Community Stories

Senior Finds Joy and Purpose through Volunteering

December 27, 2023

Eileen finds joy and purpose

After retiring in 2020, life felt like an extended vacation for Eileen Kent, 76, of Cooper City. But after about two years, it wasn’t much fun anymore.

“I guess I was feeling sorry for myself,” Eileen said. “When you spend a lot of time alone, it’s ‘Oh, this ailment and that ailment.’ Too much about me.”

Eileen decided that needed to change. 

Connection through tech help

One of her biggest stressors was figuring out how to navigate her smartphone. A friend told her about Heart2Heart. The staff connected her to a young college-aged volunteer named Jazzy Amerson.

Eileen and Jazzy meet up at Starbucks, and Jazzy helps Eileen learn how to program and use her phone so it won’t be such a source of stress. 

Slowly but surely, Eileen is learning. Although Eileen’s son and grandchildren said they would help do everything she needs to do on her phone, Eileen wanted learn to do it herself.

“If someone does everything for you, you don’t learn,” Eileen said. “I want to learn technology so I can feel not so intimidated.”

Now, she’s inspired to teach other seniors to use their electronic devices.

“I want to show them that if I can do it, you can do it, too,” she said.

Feeling useful

These days, Eileen is feeling better because she has learned to stay active. She decided to pick up gardening and is busy planning her new garden. 

But she also was so inspired by Jazzy and Heart2Heart that she decided to become a volunteer herself.

Her first volunteer job was with a sweet man named Ronald who is in his 90s. He was lonely and wanted someone to have a cup of coffee with him and chat. 

The first time Eileen met him was the week of Thanksgiving, when his daughter was also in town. They talked and had a lovely time. 

About a week later, she called to check on him, and he asked if she’d like to come over for coffee or lunch. Eileen brought some leftover turkey soup and dessert. Ronald provided the coffee, and they had a wonderful time talking.

Eileen said volunteering has changed her perspective. 

“All of a sudden, I’m feeling useful. I think that’s what’s been lacking in my life,” Eileen said. “I just felt, what am I here for? What am I supposed to be doing every day? I’ve never been into multitasking and doing too many things before, but now I think that it’s important to stay busy.”

Eileen used to work as a mental health technician, helping people who had drug and alcohol problems. Even though it was a stressful job, she came home each day feeling useful and that she had made a difference to someone. 

Eileen lives with her son, Joshua, and his three children, Shalev, 16; Zoe, 15; and Sergev, 13. When she entered retirement, she thought she would feel useful and fulfilled by cooking meals for her family and helping around the house. 

When that turned out not to be enough for her, she began to slip into depression. 

Conquering her fears

Eileen is scheduled to visit another senior at a care center named Nina. The center has Heart2Heart iPads for the residents to use, and Eileen is conquering her technological fears by helping Nina make a video call to a loved one using the iPad.

“I’ve never used a tablet, but they’ll show me what to do and then I just go into the client’s room and put the phone number into it,” Eileen said. “I’ve used a cellphone before, so I can do it, and I’ll help Nina talk to her family members.”
To make a difference – or if you need a change, like Eileen – volunteer with Heart2Heart today!

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!

Read more …

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While volunteer Steve Retford is helping her get services she needs, he gets a front row seat to glamorous stories from Broadway, filled with famous theater producers, celebrities (she dated Dean Martin briefly), and traveling through a life of show biz.

We extended his front row seat so you can listen to Lillian’s stories too.

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Heart2Heart Welcomes New Staff — in a New Space!

In case you haven’t met them in person yet, we introduced the new additions to our team:

– Rosevel “Rosie” Castro, outreach coordinator
– Peighton Stone, dietician and intern with us from Nova Southeastern University for eight weeks

Some of our team got new roles, too. Check out all the details about that — and our new office!