Community Stories

A Friendship Forged in a Stressful Move

July 19, 2023

Florica Rebelo, volunteer of the month

Heart2Heart Volunteer of the Month Florica Rebelo made life less stressful for a senior who was forced to move out of her apartment.

When Marilyn’s landlord sold the apartment, she was forced to quickly put all of her belongings into a storage unit and bounce around until she could secure another apartment of her own. She needed help sorting through her storage unit and moving her things to her new place.

Florica volunteered.

“When your whole life is in a storage unit, it’s so hard. I felt how distraught she was from having to go back and forth so many times,” Florica said.

Right where she was supposed to be

On the day she was to volunteer, Florica had just finished a long, exhausting day at work, and it was pouring down rain. She thought about going home, but she didn’t want to back out of her commitment. 

As soon as she arrived at the storage unit to help, all her tiredness vanished. She knew she was where she was supposed to be: helping Marilyn. 

“I brought her some food as well because I wasn’t sure what her food situation was,” Florica said. “I’d grilled out the night before, so I just packed her something to eat.”

When she arrived, Marilyn told her: “Flo, I was just trying to figure out what to eat next because all of my pots and pans are still packed.” 

Florica was amazed. 

“See, if you are obedient to the notion that God puts on your heart and mind, the seed is planted, and God will do the rest,” she said.

Florica brought out a chair from storage for Marilyn to rest in, since it was hard for her to stand for long periods of time. 

Florica then brought boxes to her to sort through until she found what she needed, and Flo repacked some boxes so they weren’t so heavy.

“She really couldn’t lift anything at all,” Florica said, “I helped her sort through the essentials that she needed to get by, like simple bathroom supplies.” 

And Florica was patient, telling her to take as long as she needed. 

A place to find helpers

Marilyn lives in Boca Raton, and her only family member lives in Port St. Lucie. She moved to the United States from The Bahamas almost 10 years ago. She doesn’t have a local support network to help her. 

When she reached out to Heart2Heart, she was blown away by the response. 

“She told me, ‘I don’t know why I’m surprised because I know God does follow through in helping us,’” Florica recalled. 

Now that Marilyn is all moved into her new apartment, Florica plans to go back and help her unpack boxes and put things away. 

“I’ll talk on the phone with her and pray with her, and I think that helps,” Florica said. “I think we underestimate seniors’ loneliness and their need for companionship. And praying for them and helping them with a physical task is huge.”

Living out her faith

Florica first began volunteering with Heart2Heart around 2019 as part of her Bible group with Calvary Christian, making gift baskets for various holidays. 

She’s excited to volunteer with the OAA Nutrition Services Program now that Heart2Heart has been contracted to help with this service.

Since Florica still works full-time, she doesn’t get to volunteer as often as she would like. However, she has a soft spot in her heart for seniors and wants to help in any way she can. 

“It’s strengthened my faith in God because I do see that he makes his promises come true for us,” Florica said. “It fulfills me being able to give back but also the person that I’m blessing. God promises he will not leave you or forsake you, and when I volunteer, I feel I am being God’s hands and feet – living out my faith.”

Florica urges others to volunteer and to show their children the importance of the gift of time. 

Thank you, Florica, for your willingness to serve!

Join the Team!

Becoming a Heart2Heart volunteer means that you are dedicated to serving the aging community. It means you want to connect in a meaningful way to a specific individual or to several people. It means you are committed to a consistent amount of time per month – whether that’s several hours a week or just a few hours per month.

Heart2Heart volunteers must be background checked and trained. Our training can be completed from your home on your computer or device, through the online Volunteer Portal. We run fingerprints in our office in Fort Lauderdale, and you can schedule an appointment with us after you finish the training.

The first step is to create an account on our Volunteer Portal. To get started, click here!

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