“You just love them all.”
Nancy R has been a SRC employee for 14 years. She says that she knew immediately upon seeing the original adult day room in Wheat Ridge years ago that this was an amazing place. “I really believe in what we do here. We are serving a greater purpose.” Her face lights up when she talks about her job and she tells everyone about it. She keeps pictures of people who have passed away at her desk and tears come to her eyes when she tells stories about them.
Nancy was once helping a woman named Julia who had developmental disabilities. She was told that Julia never spoke. One day, after about a year working with Julia, Nancy was waiting outside the bathroom for Julia. Nancy saw herself in a mirror and said out loud, “Oh girl, just look at your hair”. Julia joined her again and as they were walking down the hall, Julia looked at Nancy and spoke, “Oh girl, just look at your hair”, stopping Nancy in her tracks. Nancy would go on to have other conversations like this with both Julia, and a multitude of participants.
It is clear that this isn’t just a job for Nancy. These deeper moments are why she is here. Nancy is now in her third position at SRC, and it’s the one she knew she wanted: the receptionist at the adult day center. She loves welcoming people and feels it is of the greatest importance to make everyone feel loved, every day, every time they walk by. She asks herself all the time, “What if we lost that person today? How have I made them happy?”
Four Decades of Connections
Forty years doesn’t happen by accident. One big reason SRC has been around this long is our people. Our staff and volunteers are central to SRC being able to fulfill its mission. SRC does not just provide services; we provide respect and compassion, things that go much deeper.
Our work is effective because it is fulfilling. “When I started doing social work, I thought that I would see these huge, monumental changes with people on a daily basis,” says Samantha, one of our Care Managers. “But since I’ve been doing the work, I realize that each person is an individual, with their own goal that they’re trying to accomplish, whether it’s a huge goal like being able to walk again or a small one like being able to come to a class. When a person can get their needs met in a very concrete, substantial way, it feels great on both our ends. I’ve been able to help someone accomplish something.”
A significant part of what our people do is build relationships. This is especially true with the staff in our adult day centers, but it applies to every role – drivers, house cleaners, personal care providers, and volunteers. Whether we see clients once a day or once a month or only once, the work is still about the relationship.
Libby, our Wheat Ridge seniors activities coordinator, describes how satisfying this can be. “We have people who come here every day, and we know their family members. We know about their pets and their likes and dislikes. We get to know them very, very well. I love my job so much because I love these people – the knowledge that they share and the love that they share. It is just fantastic to be part of that every day.”
Volunteers Widen the Circle
Volunteers help SRC reach more people, and they exemplify the same commitment and compassion as our staff members. Stacey G, one of our volunteer drivers, gives rides to older adults almost every day she has off from work. She says that she can tell that the rides give people peace of mind, when they don’t feel safe driving anymore.
While the ride is the focus of her volunteerism, a big part of what she does is listen to her passengers while she is driving. That is not only rewarding to her but also makes a huge difference in the lives of her passengers. She met one woman who said that she was depressed and that she wasn’t sure her meds were working correctly. Stacey listened and encouraged her to follow up on the appointment the woman had made with her doctor, which the woman did. A sympathetic ear can mean so much.
Margaret and Jay F, a husband and wife team, decided to volunteer to drive for SRC about a year ago. Jay says that they “have not met a grumpy person yet.” They have many examples of the amazing people they have met while volunteering at SRC, like one woman who was so grateful for the ride that allowed her to visit her husband in a nursing home. Just because someone is older, that does not mean they aren’t active and interesting. Margaret and Jay say that their main takeaway is that people can be “absolutely delightful, no matter their age or physical limitations”. The riders they meet have such great attitudes. They are often people who have had some difficulty, but have decided to have a good attitude about it. They are people who say “I have to keep going.”
Work with a Deeper Meaning
Staff and volunteers share so many stories about being part of the big moments in life and how much that means to them. Margaret and Jay knew a man who had lost the ability to drive for months after a stroke. He was his wife’s caregiver and it was so hard for him to lose not just the ability to drive himself, but to feel diminished as a caregiver. Jay gave him the ride to the doctor when the man got the approval to drive again. It was a moving experience for them both.
SRC’s people have tremendously big hearts and it shows. Our staff and volunteers have made a difference to many, many people. Sharing the meaningful moments and being able to help along the way, this is why we do what we do and what we plan to do for many years to come.