As a social worker, Anne has known about The Center for Volunteer Caregiving for many years and often referred people to The Center. Anne worked at Resources for Seniors, the aging agency for Wake County, as the sole geriatric case manager. At Transitions LifeCare she worked in the field as a hospice social worker and then transitioned to managing their volunteer program until her retirement. When she retired five years ago, Anne was reminded of The Center’s volunteer opportunities. She knew the importance of staying engaged and finding meaningful service in her retirement years. Anne started volunteering with CVC in the fall of 2018 and has been steadily matched with care receivers since then. “I adore working with this population and spending time with older adults.” Anne volunteers in both the In-Home Connections and Caregiver Respite programs. She also has assisted with in-home assessments for new care receivers. Anne knows that this volunteer work addresses a gap in the community by providing much needed support to older adults.
Anne remembers the very first person she volunteered with, a caregiver whose mother had severe dementia. Until Anne arrived, the caregiver was unable to leave the house. She still recalls the look of relief on the caregiver’s face when she came back from that first respite visit. Her time away was like a breath of fresh air. This experience impressed on Anne what a difference it makes for the caregivers and how easy it is for her to spend a few hours a week helping. Having a volunteer also provides socialization for the caregiver.
Anne dedicates two days a week to volunteer with The Center. Anne’s advice to other volunteers is to “decide in advance how much volunteering you are comfortable doing.” Anne recommends having a consistent schedule but also being flexible based on the caregivers’ needs.
For the past year, Anne has visited with Margie once a week for 90 minutes. Mostly they sit, watch TV and chat. Once they went out to get lunch at the Hotdog Wagon food truck. They hope to try a taco food truck soon. Margie told us, “[Anne’s] been great. She’s wonderful to me. Anne helped me through some hard times with a death in the family. She always comes in with a smile on her face and a hug. If she doesn’t come on her regular day, she’ll call and check on me. She’s been real good to me.”
One of Anne’s favorite parts of volunteering is getting to know her care receivers. She loves the variety of origins and backgrounds. One care receiver was a banker, another worked in a potato chip factory. Anne recalls one of her former care receivers, “Michelle was a fascinating person. She told me stories about being a hippie and hitchhiking across the country.” She continues to stay in touch with another former caregiver respite couple who moved to Durham. Anne notes, “It takes time to get to know each other.”
Anne also volunteers in the caregiver respite program, staying with Ada while her sister, who is her primary caregiver, gets away. Ada, who is blind, enjoys listening to court reality TV. Anne reports that hearing Ada’s reaction and comments on the court proceedings has been the most fun part of her volunteering. They have watched other programming, but Ada is not nearly as expressive. Ada’s sister, Vivian, shared, “Anne is selfless. She cares about other people and tries to accommodate us as much as she can. We check in to make sure each other is okay. They [Ada and Anne] are very comfortable with each other and Anne is a very genuine person.” Vivian appreciates all the wonderful people she has worked with at The Center.
Anne loves her retirement. While she wants to remain engaged and active, she is careful not to over schedule. She also volunteers at a downtown Raleigh soup kitchen three times a month where she helps with a variety of tasks. Anne is an avid reader and even has a library in her house. She visits with her two daughters and four grandchildren (two grandsons and two granddaughters, who are now teenagers) every three months. She just returned from her sixteenth annual beach trip with them. She has time now to focus on old hobbies and has gotten back into sewing and knitting. Anne is originally from Massachusetts and also lived in New York before moving to North Carolina 25 years ago.