Yasmeen Ali: A Diamond Dance-Off for Seniors

Story by Pam Higginbotham. Photos courtesy of The Senior Source.

Through her ten years of volunteering at The Senior Source, Yasmeen Ali discovered her life has become more purposeful. Now retired, she enjoys serving others and giving of her time. “It may seem like I am giving my time and doing the work, but I am actually receiving so much,” she says. “I feel that the organization creates a united community for seniors, gives everyone a chance to develop their skills, and gives them inner satisfaction and contact with each other. I also feel I’m mentally and physically more active as well.”

Yasmeen Ali (second from left) with other volunteers from The Senior Source.

Yasmeen Ali (second from left) with other volunteers from The Senior Source.

The Senior Source promotes the emotional and financial well-being of older adults and has impacted Yasmeen’s life in a very positive way as well. “Every time you go out and help, you change the world and change lives,” Yasmeen says. “That feels great because you make a difference instead of sitting at home doing nothing and only thinking back.” Even though she is retired, she wants to remain an active part of her community and to serve others. 

Yasmeen’s journey with volunteering began as a family affair, as far back as she can remember. “From my childhood, we learned to serve inside our community, not outside the community,” she says. “When I was very young, I remember that we didn’t wear shoes in the prayer hall. So, we took out the shoes for thousands of people that are there. We made drawers for their shoes and would provide them with a token. When they returned after the prayer, they gave us back the token and we gave them their shoes.” 

Yasmeen Ali (right) with other volunteers from The Senior Source.

Yasmeen Ali (right) with other volunteers from The Senior Source.

The simple acts of service were grounding for her as a child, but Yasmeen could see the possibility of a bigger impact. “I wanted to do so much. So, we cleaned the church and from that we started serving in more ways. Then I helped my grandma and my dad and whoever needed help financially, spiritually or morally,” Yasmeen says. “Family and friends started helping and I saw they were working without receiving any money. It inspired me so much. I grew up and wanted to do more community service inside the church and inside my community. When I got the chance ten years back to be a group volunteer coordinator, I didn’t know anything about what to do outside the community because I was in a shell of serving only my community.”

Initially, when Yasmeen was approached to be the group volunteer coordinator at her church, The Ismaili Center, she was nervous and didn’t feel confident. “I said I didn’t know how to talk to people but I learned, and I’m still learning. I was encouraged by the church leaders and told I was capable. They said ‘You can do it! Go for it Yasmeen!’” She agreed to take the position and welcomed the opportunity to create a larger circle of giving that would reach many different people. This was the first step of her ten-year partnership with The Senior Source.

Yasmeen (left) with two other members of The Golden Girls.

Yasmeen (left) with two other members of The Golden Girls.

The volunteer group Yasmeen leads is known as “The Golden Girls.” Retired and between the ages of 55 to 75, they make up a diverse group that come from many different places around the world. In the beginning, it was only women who served but recently a few men have become involved as well and  there are currently 45 active members. When an opportunity is scheduled for this group, the volunteers meet at the church and The Senior Source provides group transportation to the location of service. Yasmeen, along with the other volunteers, is very appreciative of this provision. “We gather at the church, park our cars and then we ride the bus together. It’s actually really convenient for everybody.” she says.

Yasmeen has a passion for music and dance and she was inspired one day to spontaneously host a dance party in the parking lot behind the church! “Music is the food of the soul,” she says. “Music is good for your memory and for your mind, especially when you’re older. It makes a big impact because when you hear the music, you feel so good. Sometimes when you hear good music you start dancing!” True to her passion, she is currently helping The Senior Source coordinate the Diamond Dance-Off event, which celebrates the 60th birthday of the organization. It is a virtual dance competition that will showcase the talent of older adults in the Dallas and Collin County area. The excitement of the celebration has already prompted her to submit her own dance video! The competition kicked off April 1st and will continue accepting submissions until April 20th. More information can be found at theseniorsource.org

Grateful for her relationship with The Senior Source organization, Yasmeen reflected on lessons she has learned along the way. “We interact with each other, and we build bridges,” she explains. “We understand that everyone is a human being and are all in the same boat. People are paying attention and learning new things and they are growing. The more they grow, the more they help and that is awesome.” 

Yasmeen believes there is a beautiful gift of wisdom that comes with age and that it is never too late to learn and grow. “As a senior, I feel that there is so much experience and knowledge to share with people,” she says. “Growing is so important. We get more mature but always have more growing and learning to do. Though you may be 99 years old, you still need to learn more. It’s a lifelong process. I don’t want seniors to be stuck in one place. Go beyond that. Your life has a purpose. See that this age is your time. Take time out to meditate and get your inner power. There’s a purpose for you in this world. You have to work hard on that and see why you are here and where you need to go. We are all one, we are made with one soul.” The heart of volunteering and helping others is what continues to motivate Yasmeen, no matter the season of life.

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