Volunteering can be a wonderful experience. Just ask Chelsea McCloy, a companion volunteer for the Alzheimer Society of Windsor-Essex County. One of her favorite people in the world is Janet Noble; Chelsea has come to know Janet very well since she volunteered as her companion two years ago.
Chelsea was one of the first volunteers in the program. There are now 12 families in Windsor-Essex area waiting for companion volunteers who can commit two hours per week.
Commitment gives back big rewards
Commitment is a big deal to Chelsea. Even with an irregular work schedule at Starbucks and training for 5K races, she never misses a visit. “It makes me feel great,” says Chelsea. Her bubbly personality is an excellent fit for Janet Noble, a retired teacher with a great sense of humor.
“At first, we’d walk around the house or bake cookies. I’d bring the ingredients carefully marked on the paper bags then ask Janet to find ingredients and help her mix them,” says Chelsea. “She loved doing that as well as crafts with pieces I bought at the dollar store.”
As the year passed, Chelsea saw some deterioration in Janet’s mobility and knew just when to change it up. “We stayed on the couch and I’d read to her or sometimes we just watched Big Bang Theory, her favorite TV show. We had fun.”
They are still close, even though Janet has been moved to a long-term care home. Chelsea is determined to keep visiting her. “As long as Janet is laughing, my visit still has meaning,” she says.
Giving caregivers a needed break
Chelsea’s visits during the last two years have given Janet’s husband Tom Noble some wonderful hours of free time. “I thought the program was a fantastic idea. It gave me time to do my hobbies around the house and I knew she was safe,” says Tom. “Right from the start Chelsea was the right match. It was great seeing my wife having fun and laughing.”
How you can get involved
To find out more about programs and services in your area, contact your local Alzheimer society. Find them using your postal code.
Companion volunteers receive training and must provide a police background check and TB test results.