Seniors sharing compassion and creating connections

Even in retirement many people remain active in their communities, especially as volunteers. Our Diakon Senior Living Services campuses are home to many of these caring individuals. Two Twining Village residents offer their experiences on why they share their time and talents with others in need of compassion and connection…

I really had no background or training in volunteering when I came to Twining Village in May 2014, but I’ve been glad to be able to serve. I actually started as soon as I got here.

I visit the residents who have Alzheimer’s disease or similar memory-related illnesses and say the Rosary and the Our Father with them. But I don’t just say it and leave; I stay until I make contact. I touch their arms or look into their eyes. They may not be able to talk, but I’m sure many of them appreciate knowing they have someone there just for them.
One time, a lady in my Rosary group got stuck on the “Our Father.” She just kept saying, “Our Father …” and that was all. But as I listened, I could see and hear how beautifully fervent it was. She was trying so hard. And when we were done, I said, “Oh my, you pray so beautifully. I’m sure the Lord was so pleased.” And she died later that night.

I’m sure she saw Jesus while she was praying that day. And I will never say the Our Father again without seeing that woman.

I get so much satisfaction out of volunteering at Twining Village. Everyone’s been so good to me and I’ve met such beautiful people here. Volunteering adds to the feeling I have a reason to live.

It’s all about caring for people. I believe the spirit of Twining is love.

—Elizabeth Schreiber Schanne

I knew when I came here more than two years ago that I wanted to find some sort of “purpose.” So I discussed the subject with our chaplain, Pastor Erin Maurer, of whom I’m very fond, and we agreed that I should try volunteering in the memory care unit as part of the pastoral care program.

Twice a week, on Monday and Thursday, we have a worship service there. Erin reads some familiar Psalms for residents and tells stories or leads us in songs on her guitar or keyboard (she has a very beautiful singing voice, by the way).

We have from 15 to 20 residents at the services and although the service is in the memory care unit, there are always a few residents who remember a lot of the songs and prayers—which is wonderful.

And of course the service is interspersed with prayers, and there’s the giving of the sacrament and passing of the peace. That’s what I help with. I reach out to the residents who seem to have a need to connect with someone, or be touched or have someone worship with them. You can recognize when there’s a need.

What I find is that when you look into their eyes, there’s a sense of the unity of Christ. You really are bonded. There’s an understanding and a feeling of humility.

I also volunteer in the health care center whenever I can, visiting each person for a few minutes and having a little one-to-one conversation. It’s nice to develop a rapport with folks.

In addition, I sing with the choir Erin started. We have about 10 or 12 people. Our older voices aren’t always up to snuff, but you can get away with a lot when you’re part of a group. And we actually get compliments quite often!

It feels very nice to be able to volunteer and help others—and, as long as I’m able to do it, I’m certainly going to continue.

—Dorothy Host Wagner

blog dororthy and elizabeth

Resident volunteers, Dorothy, left and Elizabeth.







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