People are inspired by all sorts of reasons to volunteer with The Center for Volunteer Caregiving. Scott witnessed first-hand his parents and in-laws struggle to remain in their homes as they aged, and their experience inspired Scott to become a volunteer with The Center when he retired in late 2020. “As [my parents and in-laws] aged, they needed assistance with tasks that you and I take for granted, like grocery shopping, picking up prescriptions, and going to the doctor,” Scott said. “I saw a great need for helping people who have gaps in their support system.” Scott said The Center’s volunteer opportunities were a perfect fit for him because it allows him to provide the extra support that older people need to help them live in their homes longer.
Scott also chose to volunteer with The Center because he wanted to work for an organization where he could provide rides for people to run essential errands and get to doctor’s appointments. “We take for granted our driver’s license and our ability to get to and from places,” Scott said. Scott provides rides to several care receivers each week. He normally selects rides based on geographic location, while also looking out for some of his “regulars” to drive.
In addition to driving, Scott volunteers with care receivers in The Center’s Friendly Visit with a Helping Hand Program. In this program, Scott now visits a care receiver named Larry in his home once a week. He helps Larry with small tasks around the house.
Scott is a planner and will plan out his schedule a month in advance. However, he notes that it is important for volunteers to be flexible. Scott understands that The Center’s care receivers might not be scheduling rides right away. “It may be more of a last-minute ride, and you are the only option that they have,” Scott said. “Plans may change. They might get ill or appointments might change.”
Scott also finds that some of the care receivers feel anxious when there is a stranger coming to pick them up for a ride. He says it is important to make the care receivers feel comfortable. Helen, one of The Center’s care receivers, agrees. Helen recently had her first ride with The Center when Scott drove her to her doctor’s appointment. “He made me feel very safe and secure,” Helen said. “It was raining outside, and I was very nervous. But Scott made me feel so comfortable. I never would have made it to my appointment without his help.”
As a volunteer, it is important to “be quick to listen [to the care receivers] and not so quick to talk,” Scott said. Scott says that when a care receiver interacts with him or other volunteers, it is their time to socialize. He knows that he might even be the only person that they get to talk to over several days.
Scott knows that our care receivers are going through a tough time, whether it be the loss of a loved one or the physical changes brought on by aging, yet he is impressed by their ability to remain joyful and happy in the face of these challenges. “I’m always surprised by the tenacity [of the care receivers] and their willingness to be cheerful even in the face of the trials and tribulations that they are under,” Scott said. “This is inspiring and certainly something to imitate as we go down that road.”