One woman’s journey from caregiver to client

How do you motivate people? What is it that causes a person to take action, to take that first step? Specifically, in the case of volunteering for Community Caregivers, what will cause you to pick up the phone and call us?

I asked Mary Morrison, Caregivers’ transportation coordinator, to give me the names of eight to 10  women and men of  various ages  who have volunteered for CC. What motivated them might motivate you.

These are the questions I asked:

— 1. Age;

— 2. Date you started volunteering;

— 3.What services did you provide;

— 4. What was the impetus for you to call CC to look into volunteering; and

— 5. What would you say to someone who has expressed interest in CC to take the first step?

If the volunteer’s name is included, they have given permission. This is the first of a series to hear what some of our volunteers said.

When Judy Lenihan of Delmar was getting ready to retire, she “…was exploring a lot of options in planning retirement — docent at the Albany Institute of History and Art, ushering at one of our local theaters and I had been researching senior services in Bethlehem.”

One other activity, pre-retirement, occurred. She went to a job fair to see, as Judy put it, “what was available part time.”

At the job fair, Judy met Caregivers’ executive director at the time who explained, “Since our society is so mobile today, many families don’t have relatives to count on when they need help, and that is where CC can help.”

At this time, although she was still working, Judy learned about an opening for a transportation coordinator that allowed her to make calls evenings and weekend. (This job no longer exists for volunteers.)

 “It was a good fit for a while,” she said. After retirement, though, Judy wanted to do transportation for clients because it suited her “desire for flexibility.”

During this time period, I had met Judy and asked her to join the Volunteer Support Committee. Judy says that she has encouraged two of her friends to volunteer. She says, “Your personal invitation to join the VSC is what encouraged me to join the committee.”

What would Judy say to someone who has expressed interest in volunteering but hasn’t done anything yet?

“You can volunteer — as often as you want; there’s a no-guilt policy; rides for clients are important (not just seniors); there is joy in knowing that you are really helping clients access what they need due to a variety of circumstances; I enjoy meeting different, interesting people.”

Lastly, Judy says she’d ask a person who was contemplating volunteering what his or her biggest concern was. What is holding them back?

After a few years, Judy started in 2006, she became a client and received transportation services to chemo appointments. She said, “I would want to share what that meant to me.”

Take the step. Call 456-2898 to find out the date for the next orientation and what all the opportunities are.