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February 07, 2023 Leanne Hoppe 2 min read

"It's Good to Give Back" A Volunteer Story

Sarah Semler, Director of Volunteer Services, recently sat down to talk with Lisa, one of our Good Neighbor Volunteers here at the Central Vermont Council on Aging. She has been visiting an older gentleman for the past seven months. Sarah asked her why she volunteers and if she could give a picture of what she does each week.

Lisa, from the outset of our conversation said, “It’s very simple. I lost two very important people in my life, my Mom and my Dad. I was able to help care for them in the end. I realized that life is short, and it’s good to give back. When this volunteer opportunity came my way, I was ready to explore what it means to participate in helping someone I had never met. I needed a boost.”

“It is one of the greatest things we can do when we have the time.”

She went on to say that when she spends time with Charlie, everything slows down. Her world intersects with his. And she mentions that older people have a lot to teach us. She said conversations can be covering ground they have already covered but it never gets old.

She likes to keep a routine, which really helps Charlie and the family as they organize each week. And, it provides a valuable check-in with the other support people.

Part of the visit is getting him to move from his favorite chair to the kitchen area where he can have a snack and where they play checkers.

“We play checkers now almost every visit. At one point Charlie said to me, ‘You’re getting good!’ I had played checkers a long time ago with my second-grade students, so I was a little rusty at first. Charlie used to play with his grandfather. It’s a great way for both of us to use our brain. We chit-chat before and after but when we’re playing checkers, it’s a quiet time. Maybe some music in the background but we don’t need to converse.”

“We always hug goodbye.”

I asked Lisa if she had any advice for someone thinking of volunteering and she said, “Be gentle with people and meet them where they’re at."