Wendy , LIFE ElderCare
When Wendy lost her job, instead of focusing on the negative she realized this was her opportunity to do what she'd always dreamed – to "pay it forward" to others by volunteering her time. Through LIFE ElderCare, she enriches her life and those of the seniors she drives around.
After losing her job at 62, Wendy has been peacefully transitioning into retirement. She is happy to be at a point in her life where she gets to do what she really wants.
"I always knew that when I retired I wanted to help older people, you know, to sort of pay it forward," she says.
Throughout the years, Wendy has volunteered at many organizations and has also contributed financially. Now, as a result of her job loss she has turned her focus to contributing her time instead.
As a very young girl, her family was on welfare and she always thought, "When I get the opportunity I'm going to pay it back." Since January she has been giving rides to seniors through LIFE ElderCare's VIP Rides program.
A typical trip for Wendy is picking up a senior at their home and taking them to a medical or dental appointment. If there is time, she also helps them do a little shopping or they stop by a local coffee shop for pastry and conversation.
"I remind them that the ride doesn't just have to be for a medical appointment," Wendy says. "I usually plan for a little extra time because I know that most of the seniors are all by themselves and they might need a little something extra."
Wendy’s most recent rider was a nun who lives in the Dominican Sisters Mother House in Fremont. "She was a delightful lady, and going to the Mission opened my eyes to a whole new place that I wasn't aware of," she says. Another rider was a woman who had been actively involved in the incorporation of the City of Fremont in the early 1950's.
"I meet a variety of people and that's what I like best about this volunteer position," says Wendy. One of her favorite riders is a 95-year-old woman who is always smartly dressed, perfectly coiffed, articulate and interesting to talk with. "Now she's a 95-year-old that I would like to be when I get to that age!"
Lori Vogel, VIP Rides Coordinator, says Wendy intuitively understands the art of assisting, and this is what makes volunteering so pleasant for her. "I can always count on her to help me with the full range of seniors that we work with."
Since it started in 2005, the VIP Rides program has provided over 14,000 (round-trip) rides to frail, homebound seniors who have no other means of transportation. Between 90-100 volunteers, using their own vehicles, are currently providing 175 rides every month.
"When I have volunteered in the past there were times when I felt burned out because the organization did not honor my time," says Wendy, "but that's not the case here, I tell Lori she can call me at the drop of a hat."
In fact, after giving a ride recently to a woman in LIFE ElderCare's Friendly Visitor's program, Wendy is thinking about volunteering a few hours a week for this program as well.
LIFE ElderCare provides the basics of life - food, friendship and enhanced mobility - to seniors, age 60 and older, living in Fremont, Newark and Union City, CA to promote healthy lifestyle choices, support daily well-being and enable independent living for as long as safely possible.
LIFE ElderCare, Inc.
3300 Capitol Ave
Fremont, CA 94538
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