The impact of a friendly visit is invaluable. Our volunteers build meaningful connections with the community.
Virginia Parraga’s eyes light up when she talks about her relationship with volunteer Lori Steuart.
“There is nothing that’s off the table in terms of conversation topics,” says Virginia.
“Lori is so open-minded, and we talk about love, relationships, memories and the future. I would consider her one of my friends.”
Virginia has lived in long-term care home Kensington Gardens for 18 months. Before moving to Kensington, she was having a tough time taking care of herself on her own. She struggled with her medication, suffered from fainting spells and couldn’t walk to the store or go out to dinner. “After moving into Kensington I felt like I stabilized, and I was able to get back to the things I enjoy, like my writing,” says Virginia. (Virginia even writes a monthly column for the Kensington Gardens newsletter.)
Lori has been volunteering with Kensington for three years. Her main role is friendly visiting with residents, but she also helps out with special events. Lori was paired with Virginia when she moved in, and the connection was instant: “Virginia is a firecracker. She feels deeply, and she has strong opinions that she isn't afraid to share openly,” says Lori. “She is also an advocate for other residents on her floor. Working with her is truly amazing.”
Spending quality time together
What kind of work do they do together? As a volunteer, Lori says she takes cues from her residents to find out how they need to be supported. Right away, Lori could tell that Virginia needed an easier way to explore her passion for writing, and that updated technology could help. She helped Virginia pick out a computer and a new cell phone to stay connected.
“I helped Virginia get set up with a Netflix account and told her she had to watch the show Grace and Frankie ,” says Lori. “Virginia is essentially the combination of those two characters, and I knew she would love it. I think she’s watched it a few times over.”
For Virginia, the connection she feels with Lori is one of admiration. “She is a doll. She is open minded, very involved and we have fun together,” she says.
For Lori, her friendship with Virginia is another reason why she loves volunteering and giving back to her community: “Spending time together has had a big impact on both of us. I look forward to visiting with Virginia because I know we are going to have a good time."