Nov 21

Companionship & Community – Better Together

When you enter the home where 93-year old Tecla has lived since 1973, her welcome is warm, friendly and lively. As you chat and learn about her early widowhood, her determination to raise her two children independently, and her long work life cleaning homes, her resilience is inspiring. Tecla is animated on many topics, but when she touches on how important remaining in her home is to her she gets emotional about the role that Springwell services and its volunteers, Peter and Myrna, play in helping her. Tecla retired in 2010 at age 85 when illness compromised her lungs. Her physician introduced her to Springwell and Tecla emphasizes that Springwell’s home care services, home-delivered meals, Medical Escort volunteers, and Friendly Visitor program allow her to live comfortably in her home.

A visit with Tecla, Peter, and Myrna reveals how important these three have become to each other. Peter, a Medical Escort volunteer since he retired 7 years ago, has escorted Tecla 41 times in the 3 years that he has been driving for her. Tecla views Peter as a “guardian angel.” She beams as she says that he is “patient, kind, has wonderful manners and is a prince of a man who makes me feel safe” when he takes her to medical appointments. Peter has done volunteer board work but finds this direct service delivery more rewarding. Peter adds that he and Tecla “hit it off. Tecla is a survivor, really smart and an inspirational role model.” Peter always looks forward to talking with Tecla on the drive to and from appointments.

Myrna’s role as a Friendly Visitor began about 16 years ago. She visited with one lovely woman for 13 years. As luck would have it, Myrna was requesting another senior to visit at the same time that Tecla was seeking a Friendly Visitor after her long-time companion retired out of the area. Myrna has been visiting Tecla since May and says, “We are still getting to know each other. Tecla is warm and open, and we can talk about almost anything. I think I probably benefit more from the visits than she does.” Tecla loves people and now that Myrna and Peter are both part of her life, Tecla feels she has “two guardian angels.”

Tecla knows that some seniors may be nervous about having caregivers and volunteers come to their home, but she recommends trying some of the Springwell programs because she has found them so valuable.