If you had just met Karen Baack-Welding and Carolyn Frazee, you would never guess they have known each other for only a little over a month, as they smile, laugh, and exchange touching glances at each other.
Carolyn has been working toward her degree at Metropolitan State University of Denver, and looked into working for SRC for part of her degree. That is how she found SRC’s Volunteer program. The idea of meeting someone who needed support and getting to know them really appealed to her.
“I was starting to get lonely, and it was harder for me to get out, since I can’t drive or go too far on my own anymore,” says Karen. So, she signed up for a volunteer to visit her through SRC’s Neighbor to Neighbor program.
SRC Volunteer Services put Karen and Carolyn together and it was a perfect match. “She reminds me of myself when I was younger,” Karen remarks. Not only did they have similar personalities, both have a love for travelling. They began enjoying sharing fun memories and adventures about their travels. Not only did they share a love for travelling, but an even bigger love for photography. “She’s taught me a lot about photography, like using different papers, and taking pictures at different angles” says Carolyn, as she looks at Karen and laughs. “I’ve taught her nothing.” Karen is a long time professional photographer, and has several photographs from her life that she is getting ready to display at an art show.
Carolyn explains, “I feel I’ve benefited the most from this,” although the Neighbor to Neighbor Program is designed mostly to benefit seniors who may not have a lot of friends or family around them and would like to have a dedicated volunteer come visit them weekly. Carolyn appreciates that no matter what is happening at the time, Karen can always put a smile into her life and make her laugh.
It has helped both Carolyn and Karen. “Karen’s so feisty and fun,” explains Carolyn. “She’s so sharp.” And, because of Carolyn, Karen can continue to stay that way, and live independently. Carolyn has helped her get out more, too. They have gone out to eat together, gone grocery shopping, and have gone to different craft and office supply stores to find hard to find paper for Karen to print some of her photographs on.
As the weather gets warmer, they are hoping to go to the mountains and take more pictures. Karen used to visit the mountains a lot and camp when she was younger. “One time I was hanging off a cliff with my husband holding my feet so I could take a picture.” While Carolyn doesn’t plan on hanging off any cliffs with Karen, they hope to get out more and enjoy the mountains together.
It’s clear this friendship between a senior and a volunteer is strong and growing. Even when Carolyn isn’t spending time with Karen, you can find them talking on the phone daily, seeing how the other one is doing, sharing things that have happened, and planning more adventures for the following week. Carolyn has come over to visit Karen one day a week, but both can’t wait to spend even more time together.