Jan 10

Thriving through social connection

Social isolation can challenge senior citizens who find it more difficult to get out of the house than when they were younger. A friendly visitor can make a valuable difference in their quality of life. Ruth, an energetic 90 year old artist, relocated to Waltham two years ago to be near medical care and her granddaughter. She enjoys painting, writing and the company of her beloved black cat but she misses her friends from Brookfield.

When Ruth first moved to Waltham, health issues led her to some services from Springwell. Currently, she is deeply grateful for weekly visits with Dawn, a volunteer in the Friendly Visitor program. Ruth exclaims, “Dawn is so nice. I don’t know what I would do without her!” Dawn is fascinated by the many stories of Ruth’s vibrant life and likes learning about her ongoing projects, such as the greeting cards Ruth recently made from prints of her paintings.

As an adult, Dawn didn’t get to spend much time with her grandmothers and finds the relationship with Ruth particularly gratifying. Ruth will never run out of fascinating topics to share with Dawn not only because of her rich past but her creative spirit still has her painting, drawing or writing most days. In one visit, you get a glimpse of Ruth’s creativity as her walls showcase her paintings and drawings. Her table is stacked with copies of a travel memoir she wrote and bound while beautiful baskets she made are nested carefully on the floor. Book binding and basket making are just two of many skills she learned working at Sturbridge Village. Ruth is also known for her acting and as a puppeteer. She has made over a hundred puppets and is happy to give a demonstration of them in action.

Some weeks Dawn is the only person that Ruth spends time with and they both find the visits very rewarding.  Dawn recently expanded her volunteer role to also become a Shopping Assistant for Ruth. Dawn says that every week is different and it is clear they both look forward to their time together.