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Perspectives: Why I Volunteer at Senior Services

Carol Laginess - Volunteer Ombudsman

"You asked for why we volunteer.  Here’s my story:

I started volunteering with the Ombudsman program after visiting my Uncle Jack in Pennsylvania.  He had suffered a heart attack and was at a nursing home for rehab.

He was always a proud, self-sufficient man and he lived alone.  He was a WWII Veteran who grew up during the Great Depression and found it difficult to ask for help and had no family nearby.

I asked him what I could do right then to help him be more comfortable and he said he would like a radio and he wanted to be able to shave by himself!  These seemed like such simple requests!  When I asked him why he couldn’t have a radio he said he didn’t want to bother his roommate.  When I asked why he couldn’t shave himself he said the mirror was too high and he couldn’t stand long enough to shave.  Again – such a simple request, why hadn’t anyone figured out how to help him.  He was the quiet patient and did as much for himself as he could.  He always had a kind word for the aides and knew how hard they worked!

The solutions were simple.  Earphones and a radio allowed him to enjoy his favorite talk radio and spiritual programs.  And, by asking the maintenance department, they were able to lower the mirror in his bathroom.  If that wasn’t going to be possible, I would have found a portable table mirror so he could shave himself.

When I returned home I thought about how just a few minutes of my time spent “problem solving” had made a difference for my uncle.  I couldn’t see him and help as often as I’d like but, I thought maybe there was a way to help seniors here on his behalf. 

I met Willie Alston with the Ombudsman program, attended training and I’ve been helping seniors at Kempsville Nursing and Rehab for almost 8 years.  When residents ask, I’m happy to tell them my uncle’s story.  You see he was able to move to assisted care and then even move home for a few years.  We had many happy visits together and he enjoyed hearing about my efforts to help folks here.  He passed away in October of 2015 and I’ve continued to volunteer.  It gives me a great way to honor him and I’ve made so many friends along the way."

 

 Jennifer VanDavier - Meals on Wheels Delivery Group Leader 

"My Story:

My name is Jennifer VanDavier. I am the Community Integration Specialists at the Albero Home at St. Mary’s. We have twelve precious young adults who live at the Albero Home. We were looking for volunteer opportunities for our young adults. I had volunteered with Senior Services in the past delivering liquid nutrition, and knew they were a caring organization. We were wanting to give back to our community and hopefully over time build friendships. 

Senior Services welcomed us and connected us with a Wellness Center. Myself and one individual from the Albero House deliver Meals on Wheels to the Williams Farm Recreation Center each Monday. After delivering the meals, we stay for a few more minutes to interact with the Seniors.  Many of the Seniors now greet him by name, and he smiles. There is also a lady who takes classes at the rec center. She often waits after her class in order to see him. When she talks to him he smiles. 

This opportunity to serve others is helping him to become an active member of the community. It helps him feel good about himself, and he is making a difference in the lives of Seniors."

 

Share your story of how volunteering impacts your life by emailing Kelley Russo at krusso@ssseva.org. 

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