Elderly man rediscovers his story through friendship with Charities
Henry cautiously rolled his wheelchair over to our resource station. He looked angry and suspicious – but still curious, and willing to take a chance.
“We are here to help,” we gently said. “What do you need?”
“Why bother?” he gruffly responded.
Henry’s wheelchair wasn’t his only handicap. Persistent loneliness had crippled his ability to hope for a friend. But our team persisted - and sound found ourselves engrossed in a lifetime of stories.
Henry took center stage – regaling our team with tales from long ago – things he had seen, things he had done, stories about his life as a farmer.
By the end of our conversation, Henry sat a bit straighter – and smiled a bit wider – all with a twinkle in his eye. He felt special. He felt valuable. Someone had finally taken an interest in him…finally.
Saint Francis once said, “Where there is despair, let me bring hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy.”
The Friendly Visitor Volunteer Program of Charities’ Larimer County Regional Office takes St. Francis’ prayer to heart in their service to suffering seniors. Their task? To provide friendship to lonely seniors, routinely visiting them to play games, share stories, and go on walks – anything to show they are loved.
“I have seen first-hand the isolation, loneliness, and depression with which many of our seniors struggle,” says Laurie, a social caseworker for the program.
“They are often forgotten and neglected. Many are homebound, essentially trapped within their small homes. Their physical and mental handicaps make them vulnerable – and yet no one stands up to advocate for them. They have lost loved ones – spouses and friends – and their children have moved away.”
“Sure, maybe someone comes to see them on a professional basis - or to clean or deliver groceries - but no one comes to visit them. No one seems to care about them as a person.”
“These struggles can be every bit as painful as physical illness,” she continues. “To feel special – that’s something everyone is entitled to.”
Catholic Charities recently resurrected The Friendly Visitor Program after its unfortunate closing in 2006 due to funding cuts. With the help of generous supporters, however, the program is slowly growing new roots to meet the rising demand throughout Loveland and Fort Collins.
“We’re simply bringing a little light into someone’s life,” says Laurie. “And even though [this] program isn’t quite as tangible as giving food or helping someone with an application, it is still very important.”
More volunteers are needed at the Ft. Collins office to respond to the growing wait list.