by Tina Podboy Laughner, Volunteer & Outreach Manager
Nicole Thorseth is our Volunteer of the Month for February. She has been a Friendly Visitor for one of our clients since March of 2018. When she first moved to Midland from Massachusetts, Nicole had some health issues and was unable to work so she decided to volunteer instead. She knew of Senior Services and decided to contact us. “It was totally worth it,” Nicole says, “It’s great to meet new people. My client is a wonderful friend. I love conversations with her. She has so much pluck!” Kathy Schmitt, the older woman’s Care Coordinator says, “(The client) and her family have expressed gratitude and joy over Nicole and the conversation she brings to her. Although unable to visit during COVID, she calls and emails on a regular basis. (The client) really loves Nicole, and it is helpful with Seasons closed to have someone else to talk to.”
Nicole has a home-based business creating clipart and other educational materials, and her husband works for Dow. She also enjoys photography and gardening. She says her volunteer experience has been wonderful so far and she would encourage anyone who likes to get to know people to volunteer, too.
Friendly Visitors/Shoppers help seniors who may be isolated, homebound or unable to drive. Depending on the client, pre-COVID a Friendly Visitor might come to their house to visit or play cards, take them to a center for lunch, go for a walk or just shop once a week. Sometimes people in need of a shopper might not drive anymore or simply cannot get around well enough to shop for themselves. Visits are tailored to the needs of the senior and the interests and availability of the volunteer. The time commitment is usually one to two hours a week and mileage is reimbursed. It is the one volunteer opportunity that someone who is still working full time can do after normal work hours or on weekends. Since March 2020, our Friendly Visitors/Shoppers have been either visiting outdoors, masked and distanced (when weather permitted) or calling/emailing clients and shopping with as little contact as possible.
If you are interested in this, or other services, contact Senior Services at (989) 633-3700. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer Friendly Visitor or Shopper or other volunteer opportunity, call 633-3741.
Thank you, Nicole, for your time as a Friendly Visitor and for your continued devotion to your client! Congratulations on being chosen as the February Volunteer of the Month!