Maria Olague places a firm, supportive hand on the shoulder of Warchell Green, below, after he finishes his lunch at Health for All Adult Day Health Care. Though he cannot see, he can tell that she cares for him and he prefers her company above others during lunch. He cannot speak, but when she feeds him, he smiles and turns in her direction.
Olague is a Senior Companion Volunteer for 25 hours a week at the center. She socializes with the participants and helps with activities and mealtime. "Treat them with love and respect and decency," she says about the participants, who are disabled and mostly elderly. "We treat them right and they are very appreciative."
She thinks about her own parents, who died when she was 7 years old. "I want to treat them the way I'd treat my parents if they were alive," she said.
Olague, 77, is a retired hospital cook. She would see the patients suffering in the hospital and felt the desire to help. For the past 7 years now she has been fulfilling that desire by volunteering at Health for All. "It's good for your health too," she said about volunteer work. "For your mind, body and spirit you get more gratification." She hopes she can continue volunteering here for many years to come.
Maria Andrade, the director at Health for All, said that Olague is very dedicated and hardly ever misses a day of volunteering. "You fall in love with her because of the way she treats the participants," she says.
Do you know someone who loves volunteering that should be profiled in the I Care column? Please email suggestions to Autumn Payne at firstname.lastname@example.org.