Community Stories

A chance encounter becomes an opportunity to serve

July 13, 2022

A chance encounter becomes an opportunity to serve

Heart2Heart volunteer Lori Schlueb was at a diner near her house when she first saw Mary Lou. 

The older woman looked very thin and walked slowly with her walker. Lori’s own father struggled with dementia and Parkinson’s disease before he passed away. Lori recognized the look of confusion when the woman realized she couldn’t pay for the meal she had ordered. 

Her heart went out to her. Lori was still in a Heart2Heart T-shirt, having just finished dropping off Food for Hope meals to other local seniors. She offered to help Mary Lou carry her food the short distance back to her condo. 

At the condo, Lori met Mary Lou’s husband. He was battling health issues and explained that their car had been in an accident recently. They couldn’t get to the grocery store across the street from their home because Mary Lou was worried about getting hit. 

“I could see they were struggling,” Lori said. 

She asked if they would be interested in receiving five meals a week through the Food for Hope program. When they said they would, she called Volunteer Coordinator Antonella Salerno, who was able to add the couple into the program.

Lori has delivered two batches of meals since first meeting the couple. She said she loves the formality in how they speak, a testament to having grown up in a bygone era. 

“They’re just the cutest people,” Lori said. “So polite and so kind.”

At her last visit, Lori brought along her 14-year-old daughter, who also has a passion for serving older adults. Mary Lou brought out her photo album to show the teenager pictures of when she was younger. Mary Lou used to work as a model, Lori said. 

“You see the beauty in her and in who she is as a person,” she said. 

The meal deliveries allow Lori to be a consistent, helpful presence for the couple. She has cleaned out spoiled food from their refrigerator on each visit. She found the landline phones, replaced the batteries and put them back on their chargers so their family could reach them. She helped them change out pictures and decorations on the wall. 

“I know that me being there consistently every week is making them happy,” she said. “I know they have a lot to say but no one to hear what they want to talk about.”

Antonella said the couple was enthusiastic about their new friendship with Lori. 

“They told me, ‘It’s just like an angel came in our path, and we’re so thankful to have met her,’” Antonella explained. “She was just in the right place at the right time to meet this really sweet couple.”

Lori trained to become a Heart2Heart volunteer more than seven years ago and had to take a break to reprioritize her family. However, she still received emails from Heart2Heart and knew she wanted to get involved again. The opportunity to deliver meals through the Food for Hope program seemed like the perfect fit. 

“I just felt like: ‘I’m ready. I need to do this,’” she said. “God whispers things in your heart, and you know when it’s time and you can commit fully.”

To impact the lives of seniors in your community, become a Food for Hope volunteer!

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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