Bonnie started volunteering with The Center after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic because she felt called to help out during this time. “I never knew from week to week if my job would start or stop. I needed something that had flexibility, but I wanted to do something meaningful.” Bonnie spent part of her career as a Registered Nurse and was attracted to The Center’s opportunities to continue to care for others.
Bonnie volunteered with a few organizations during the start of COVID, but The Center is the organization that really stuck with her. She was especially attracted to the flexibility that she could have as a volunteer with The Center. Bonnie is now a musician with the North Carolina Symphony. Her work has periods that are busy but also leaves her with periods where she has more free time. “In June, I am incredibly free and I sign up for lots of [rides]. Last year, work was still slow for a while so I did one ride a week.”
Bonnie has two “buddies” that she helps in The Center’s In-Home Connections program. She visits with and shops for two care receivers, Joyce and Barbara. “I have a regular routine with those guys, and if I have extra time I add some rides.” Bonnie has been visiting with both Joyce and Barbara since 2020. “The people who are my consistent buddies, that has really been cultivating long-term friendships. I have seen them both through major medical issues of their own and major family things. And they are there for me.”
Bonnie usually sees Joyce once a week. (Joyce is pictured with Bonnie above.) Though they can’t always go out as Joyce has a bad back, they try to schedule bi-weekly outings, which frequently includes lunch at a soul food fish restaurant. They will sit in Bonnie’s car, eat the fish, and watch people. They also like to drive by Joyce’s former office, and Joyce will share stories about her former job. “She is one of the best people I have ever met in my life, I think the world of her. When I am sick, when I am well, she is always there,” Joyce shared.
Bonnie learns a lot from her care receivers as well. Joyce used to work for a soul food restaurant and has shared some of the recipes with Bonnie. “I am learning how to cook on a whole new level. I feel like a real North Carolinian!”
Bonnie thinks that The Center provides the perfect volunteer opportunity for anyone who likes people. During the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bonnie realized just how important socialization is. “When people were stuck in hospitals and they couldn’t even see their families, that is when it really struck me that having people is one of our most basic needs. Having someone you can rely on and someone you can talk to – people really need that.” For Bonnie, volunteering just feels good and she wants to do it as much as she can. Bonnie plans on continuing to volunteer with The Center long-term and even considers volunteering as a part of her retirement plans. “I think this is great. I’ll keep doing this. I plan on The Center being a really big part of my life when I get into retirement.”