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Cultivating Kindness Through Service: Residents Volunteer to Connect our Community

Paul and Dolores Gohdes moved to Capitol Lakes in 2012 mainly because it was a Continuing Care Retirement Community. According to Paul, “We didn’t want to move again and appreciated that Assisted Living was available to us should we need it down the road.” But after they moved they noticed that to the majority of Independent Living residents, Assisted Living was like “Siberia” and that the two sections of campus rarely socialized or connected.

That all changed when Tillie Ripley – who has since passed away – very openly, vocally, and proudly moved to Assisted Living to get the help she needed to improve her quality of life. “When Tillie moved, she set an example for those of us in Independent Living by showing us that a move to Assisted Living could be positive,” remembers Paul. “But she also got a lot of us thinking that we could do more to connect with our friends in Assisted Living and make our community more cohesive.”

Paul and Dolores along with Independent Living residents Eileen Rabson, the late Sylvia O’Neill, and others spearheaded Saturday socials as well as a transportation program to ensure Assisted Living residents could get to programs in the Grand Hall. They were easily able to recruit two volunteers each night to bring Assisted Living residents to programs and performances. Volunteers also sat with residents to socialize and to be available should any needs arise.

When Covid hit the volunteer effort obviously ceased due to lockdowns canceling programs and in-person social events. Three years later life is only slowly returning to normal. But for Paul, Dolores, and a small group of committed volunteers connecting with Assisted Living residents remains a priority.

“I hope that someone will do this for me one day,” says Paul. “In fact, some of our original volunteers now live in Assisted Living and I’m glad we can pay them back for their service by continuing to bring them to afternoon programs like Heart Strings. While we may not have the volunteer contingent we did before Covid I’m grateful we can continue our outreach efforts even in a small way.”

Thank you to Paul, Dolores, and Independent Living resident volunteers for cultivating kindness through service! #NSNCW

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