Kim Kent has been a Heart2Heart volunteer for five years. She’s also been serving as the president of Heart2Heart’s board of directors.
We asked her to talk about the value of a volunteer. Here’s what she had to say.
I was a volunteer long before I was a board member. For me, that’s the most important thing I do: visiting my people.
You’re bringing a light to the person you’re visiting by providing hope and having warmth for them. We do have the opportunity to share Christ with folks when it’s appropriate.
Just seeing someone light up when you walk in the room is priceless.
What do you think is the difference between a volunteer and a paid employee?
Our paid staff is absolutely incredible. Their hearts for the elderly are totally pure.
The volunteer has an even more pure agenda, one just for the mission. Just to be there for those people you’re devoted to and no other reason.
Where do you volunteer?
I visit Manor Oaks (Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Fort Lauderdale) every week when I’m in town. I spend time with three to five of the residents. They’re my peeps!
Only one of the people I visit can I have a real conversation with. One is deaf. One person can’t communicate clearly due to Parkison’s disease. One is bedridden.
When you’re there with them, God provides a way for you to communicate with them. It still amazes me every time. You find ways to communicate to show them love and you care.
When you’re there with them, God provides a way for you to communicate with them. It still amazes me every time.
When I first started volunteering, the activities director gave me a list of seven people to visit. Some of the original group have died or moved, and I added another person. Now I have four who are the standard ones I visit.
When I’m out of town, I’m able to call and talk on the phone with one of them.
How is your role different as the board president?
As the board president, my role is to be the head cheerleader.
When I’m in the community, among friends or among family, I never fail to mention Heart2Heart as often as I can. I don’t typically talk about what I do as a volunteer. I concentrate on what the organization is doing in the community. And the amount of programs and services Heart2Heart provides has just grown with Juan’s leadership.
The other aspect of what I do is fundraising. That’s putting your money where your mouth is. My husband and I support the organization. We so believe in what they’re doing. My goal is to bring in others, too.
Finally, I love to support and show appreciation to our staff, so they know how much I — and the whole board — appreciate them and love them.
Because they really go above and beyond. I think they do a good job of supporting us as volunteers. That support goes both ways.
What’s the most rewarding part of being a volunteer?
As a volunteer in the trenches, it’s just so rewarding to receive that love from people and being able to talk about God.
As a member of the board, the reward is to be able to help in whatever way we can so that Heart2Heart can continue to reach more people and make a bigger impact on people’s lives for Christ.
How did you first start volunteering with Heart2Heart?
I never envisioned myself working with the elderly. I thought I’d like to work with kids, teens or other women. God had a different plan.
When my husband, Bill Kent, and I were starting our own foundation, we reached out to Virlee and Doug Stepelton (of Festus & Helen Stacy Foundation) for advice. They told us about all the organizations they support. One of those organizations was Heart2Heart.
I wanted to know what Heart2Heart was all about. I really wasn’t looking to volunteer at first.
I’m the Wellbeing Coordinator for Team Horner Group, and one of the things we do is give back. Before the pandemic, we started giving parties at different nursing homes through Heart2Heart.
We all loved it. That’s when I realized: These people are touching my heart.
I hosted a volunteer training at Team Horner, and I thought, “I can’t do this without volunteering myself.” So I signed up.
What have you learned as a volunteer with Heart2Heart?
God has given me patience I didn’t know was possible in how I deal with the elderly.
My own mother is 92. I’m probably not as patient with her!
However, I took her with me on a visit to the nursing home once. She watched me interact with the residents and said, “I can’t even believe what I’m seeing!”
That’s all God. And I’m grateful to be a part of his work.