ADA — The saying “Respect your elders,” has always been considered a rule of thumb for children, but what does this saying mean to adults? Most people feel their elders are those older people they encounter in banks, grocery stores, or the occasional family reunion. Many of today’s “grown-ups” place the elderly community, especially those living in nursing homes, out of sight out of mind. A certain few do not. The volunteers at Ballards Nursing Home, Companions ‘N Care, and Jan Francis Care Center place the residents of nursing homes at the top of their priority list.

Companions ‘N Care originated January 1979 with 24 members assisting the residents of Ballards with as many activities as possible. Today the number has dwindled down to a mere 7 active members, most of whom are in their 80s and 90s. “I need new blood,” said Sandy Clem, activities director at Ballards. Jan Francis does not have an official volunteering organization, but has a had some of the same volunteers for more than 20 years. “I couldn’t ask for better volunteers,” said Linda Brock, activities director for Jan Francis.

These volunteers provide entertaining activities designed to keep the residents active and happy. A monthly party is thrown for all residents celebrating a birthday. Both nursing homes’ volunteers host bingo and give away prizes to the winners. “They [the residents] love those prizes,” said Becky Barnett, secretary of Companions ‘N Care, “Bingo is their favorite thing we do each week.”

The volunteers also provide the residents a beauty day, which includes getting their hair and nails done. “You feel like a new person,” Pauline Henderson, a Ballards resident, said. Clem has realized how important this beautification is. “The manicures and the beauty shop is their treat for the week. They need something to pamper themselves.”

The Christmas party is also a major event that the volunteers put on for the residents of Ballards and Jan Francis. Companions ‘N Care hold fundraisers all year to pay for the supplies that are needed to make the party happen. This year there will be a silent auction and an afghan raffle. Jan Francis volunteers are known to provide many of the supplies for the holiday parties. “There is a volunteer here seven days a week,” Brock said. “They are my life line.”

Clem notes that the members of Companions ‘N Care are her lifesavers as well. “Without the volunteers I could not do nearly the activities we do now,” she said. “I don’t know what I would do without them.” Clem does realize the need for more volunteers, not only because they make her job much easier but because “these people deserve some help.”

To become a Companion ‘N Care volunteer, phone Sandy Clem at (580) 436-1414, or to volunteer at Jan Francis contact Linda Brock at (580) 332-5328.

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