Thursday, February 14th, 2008
By Betty Lawrence
Local volunteers offer themselves to others
Several area senior citizens have said no to the proverbial rocking chair in their golden years and instead are volunteering their time to help out their fellow man.
Linda Leighner, 64 of Old Trail Road, Rockford, finds time to help out with crafts at the Laurels of Shane Hill in Rockford. She is following in the footsteps of her mother, who also volunteered at the home.
"It's really an ego trip for me. It makes me feel better, helping others," Leighner says smiling. "I like to get them (residents) to think, stimulate them. I'm the bugger."
Leighner said she plans to continue volunteering at the nursing home and at the quarterly senior citizens garage sales, as long as she is able.
The Laurels honored Leighner with the Volunteer of the Year award in April 2007 and just two months later, Leighner, and her husband, Dave, found out firsthand how it is to be a nursing home resident.
"We were in a motorcycle accident, and we both broke our backs," she recalls. "So, we stayed here at the Laurels for five weeks. I couldn't wait to get home."
Steve Schaaf, administrator at The Laurels, terms his volunteers an integral and invaluable asset to the nursing home.
"We have at least 40 that help here and they're such a big asset," he says. "They're invaluable, giving attention to the residents that we sometimes don't have time for. I don't know what we would do without them."
Ann Badgett, 77, of Celina is a retired Goodyear employee who now spends her time volunteering at the Celina Area Visiting Nurse, Hospice & Community Adult Day Care Center in Celina and at her church, Immaculate Conception Catholic Church. The busy woman works one day a week at Chief Grocery store and does water aerobics at Breakaway RecPlex.
The mother of seven children, grandmother of 13 and great-grandmother to 10 also is learning computer skills, which she says will help her keep in contact with her children who are scattered throughout the U.S., as well as a son who soon leaves for Kuwait.
"I keep busy and I like to volunteer because I really like people. Everyone is always so appreciative and grateful. It just makes you feel good about yourself and I recommend it to everyone out there. It's very rewarding," she says.
Volunteer Wayne Doner, who at age 61 is on the "verge" of seniority, perhaps says it best, "Old is only the frame of a young kid's mind."
Doner and his wife, Jan, also are volunteers at the adult day care center in Celina.
The couple still work a 40-hour week, farm 280 acres and serve as deputies with the Mercer County Grange.
"Wayne's father was the first hospice patient here and after he died, that's how we came to start volunteering here. His mother also volunteered here," Jan Doner says, referring to the adult day care center. "We just really enjoy it and that's why we do it. It's rewarding."
The day care center's volunteer coordinator, Mary Beougher, says the volunteers help in the office, with fundraising and other activities.
"The behind the scenes work that they do is incredible. There's a lot of social interaction and stimulation between the volunteers and our clients. We couldn't do what we do without them. They're invaluable," Beougher says, specifically mentioning volunteer Wanda Mills who bakes every Thursday so everyone at the facility can enjoy a piece of homemade cake on Fridays.
Mary Fisher, 79, of Karafit Road near Montezuma, has been volunteering at Mercer County Community Hospital in Coldwater since 1991. When her husband Paul died in November at Briarwood Manor Nursing Home, she also began offering her assistance at the home's Bingo parties and monthly birthday parties.
She also serves on the Mercer County Council on Aging board and still enjoys monthly luncheons with her former co-workers at First Financial Bank and with high school classmates.
She chooses to remain optimistic of the future.
"The thing is, if you sit at home, you have too much time on your hands," Fisher says. "You need to get out and see how other people are in this world. You soon find out you're not as bad off as you think."
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