For ECS volunteer Patricia Mingey, being able to spend time with senior citizens has a special meaning.
“To me, volunteering is a nice way of giving back, and since I’m very passionate about the elderly, it was a natural fit,” she says.
Mingey began volunteering with ECS in 2013. Since then, she says her interactions with volunteer companions have been not only a chance for her to give of herself, but also about giving back.
“I’m really passionate about helping people. Making a difference in the life of someone, however small, is very important to me,” Patricia say.
“It’s troubling. It’s sad to see this generation of people who wind up in these facilities and they don’t get too many visitors. The staff does their best, but they have other responsibilities and they aren’t always able to provide personal attention.”
Patricia says her mother was a very positive role model when she was growing up.
“There were five kids in our family and my dad died very young,” she recalls. “My mom made a lot of sacrifices in raising her kids. But she also found the time to help people. She was a very kind and generous woman.”
After her mother died, in 2005, Patricia waited a couple of years before becoming a volunteer. Her first experience was as a hospice volunteer at two different Hospice organizations.
“I was a hospice volunteer for four or five years,” Patricia says. “That was an incredible experience. It’s amazing to be so close to someone who is so close to heaven.”
Because of the nature of hospice, the relationships she developed were often short in duration. In addition, her schedule started to get more complicated. That’s when she contacted ECS about volunteer opportunities.
Feeling at Home
“Marilyn Knox is the volunteer coordinator who I worked with at ECS. She’s really great,” Patricia says. “She’s very professional and you can tell she really cares a lot about the program.”
Best of all, she’s able to fulfill that special calling she feels about making life a little better for her elderly companions.
“It’s often just little things,” she says. “I’ll spend time with them. Maybe bring them some hot chocolate, for which they’re very appreciative. Sometimes I’ll just sit and listen. They have a garden area at the facility, so sometimes we’ll sit out there, enjoy the sunshine and relax. ECS also has a program where students from local schools exchange letters with residents. It makes the residents happy that they got mail. As a volunteer, I am able to assist the resident in writing letters back to the students.”
The most important thing is to just be a friend, she says.
“That’s why I like to listen to them. I think other people’s stories are really fascinating,” she says. “I feel privileged to share in their lives and to me it feels like I have another family member.” I wish others would consider doing it.”