Longtime Volunteers Reflect on Their Experiences

Elaine Whitford Give_Receive_Care

Today, The Center for Volunteer Caregiving celebrates its 30th anniversary. We asked a few of our longest tenured volunteers to reflect on the support and services they’ve provided to older adults and adults with disabilities living independently in Wake County and the impact it has had on their life. (The number in parentheses is the number of years they’ve volunteered with The Center.)

Jackie Gadison (20 years) began volunteering with The Center because she understood the importance of supporting older adults trying to age in place in their home. She continues to volunteer because she sees that the need for The Center’s services are increasing and she enjoys interacting with and supporting older adults. Her most memorable volunteer experience was with a care receiver who was legally blind.  Jackie coordinated with her to plan and create a memory book to give to her daughter.  Jackie remembered, “We spent months talking about when she was young, her work years and her marriage. The memorable moment was presenting the finished book to her daughter.”

Kelly Markson (22 years) started volunteering with The Center so long ago it wasn’t even called The Center for Volunteer Caregiving! She heard about The Center’s volunteer opportunities from the priest at her church. Through the years, she has worn different hats as a volunteer, including transportation, grocery shopping, in-home assessments and light housekeeping. Reflecting on her experience, Kelly said, “The Center for Volunteer Caregiving is such a wonderful organization. I am so happy to be part of this amazing group. I feel like I get more out of it than my care receivers. Volunteering is such a win-win for both the volunteer and the care receiver. Thank you for providing life enriching opportunities for all of us.”

John Sebastian (23 years) learned about The Center’s volunteer opportunities from a person at his church. He said, “I had the time and an affinity for seniors, so it was a perfect fit.  Over the years I’ve met a lot of very nice people, and even became good friends with some.  In my experience serving benefits the volunteer as much, or more than, the care receiver. And that’s why I continue to volunteer when I can.” His most fond memory is from Sunday afternoon when The Center hosted a movie at the Cary Theater for volunteers and their care receivers. “My guest and I had a wonderful time and got to meet several other care-receivers and their volunteers as well as staff.”

Natalie Macemore (15 years) was a social worker and referred clients to The Center. When she left that job, she became a volunteer. She recalls that The Center has “expanded its services over the years but has remained true to its original mission.” (And she likes the online volunteer management system put in place in 2016.) Natalie has had to take breaks from volunteering over the years but she keeps coming back because “[t]here is such a need for your services in the community and I want to help when possible. I appreciate the opportunity to help seniors remain at home independently by providing simple services like shopping and transportation.” Natalie says she has had many memorable moments as a volunteer. She recalls with fondness a couple who she transported for a few years. She said, “The husband was such a funny guy. He would break into song in the middle of the store sometimes. They were really special people and I’m so happy I got to spend time with them.”

Ann Schafstedde (18 years) learned about The Center’s volunteer opportunities in a church bulletin after her husband died. She continues to volunteer because “it’s giving back.” Her most memorable volunteer experience has been with the care recipient she has served for the past 12 years. She says they enjoy each other’s humor.

Barbara Pearson (14 years) volunteered with The Center as a way to give back after she saw firsthand how important her mother’s caregiver was to her before she died. Through the years, Barbara has gotten to know many families as a caregiver respite volunteer. She says, “In many ways, they have changed my life in ways that I will never forget. It is always a privilege to learn about the rich lives of these people, many from ‘the greatest generation’.” One of Barbara’s most memorable moments was when she assisted a care receiver with Alzheimer’s to play the piano, “which everyone assumed she had forgotten, but which she was able to clearly recall for a brief time.”

Many thanks to all of our volunteers. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve volunteered for 23 years or 2 months. The support and service you provide has a tremendous impact on the lives of older adults in our community. The Center’s 30 years of service wouldn’t have happened without you!