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Thursday, September 12, 2024

Volunteer Highlight: Hartwell Place

CMSS is grateful to all volunteers who support our programming and bring joy to the older adults we serve. From our Senior Connections program to the Hartwell Place and West Suburban communities, volunteers make our work possible. This Volunteer Appreciation Week, we are excited to highlight two volunteers at Hartwell Place, our assisted living memory care community.

Emily Vokac, Visiting with Lily the Corgi

Emily: I have lived in Andersonville for the past five years.  When I moved across the street from Hartwell Place a year ago, I knew it was a sign. I had been looking for a new place to volunteer in my community and thought I would see how to get involved.  Ana and Jen welcomed me and were excited when I stopped by.  I have a Corgi named Lily, and we discussed bringing her to visit the residents.

A corgi puppy rests by people's feet.
Lily in a moment of rest during one of her Hartwell Place visits.

Spending time with a pet can be fun and therapeutic for older adults with memory loss. I can see that the sensory feedback from petting an animal is a good experience for the residents. When I visit, I talk and reminisce with residents about animals they grew up with or had as adults. Discussing our pets has been a great way to build connections. Lily and I visit almost every other Monday to spend time with the Hartwell Place community.

My favorite thing about visiting Hartwell Place is seeing the older adults smile when interacting with Lily. This volunteer opportunity has made me feel more connected to my community and neighborhood. And I love sharing Lily’s lovely, calm, and charming personality with others. It brings me a lot of joy.

Eliza Stoughton and Family, Visiting Neighbors

Eliza: I was intrigued by this charming building in the middle of an otherwise residential neighborhood. Once I learned it was an assisted living memory care community, I was eager to volunteer because of my experience with three of my own grandparents having experienced memory loss. My Mammaw is still living with memory loss and we don’t get to see one another very often. Spending time with Hartwell Place residents feels like the best way I can love my Mammaw from far away. I was also a new Mom when I started volunteering, so it was a wonderful and important opportunity to get out of the house solo. I started bringing my daughter Margaret with me once she was a little older, and now I am a new mom of two. I love bringing both of my kids to visit for the neighborhood story time once a month.

My favorite part about visiting Hartwell Place residents is hearing their stories and watching them interact and play with the kids. I have a very fond memory of Marty and Margaret playing hide-and-seek together. Margaret also loves to dance, and the residents love watching her.

Volunteering at Hartwell Place has been rewarding, especially when I hear Margaret refer to it as “the place where my new friends live.” It has been a joy getting to know the residents and the staff. We also really love it when Ana takes the residents out on walks past our apartment building, and we get to wave and say hi.

Two children sit on floor listening to story time. Adults and seniors are seated behind them.
A Storytime visit with children at Hartwell Place.

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