Sometimes it’s funny how friendships develop. For Carissa and Sandra it began when they were paired up by MOW Diablo Region’s Friendly Visitor Program, but their relationship quickly turned into one of trust and deep admiration.
Carissa was looking for a meaningful volunteer opportunity. She had worked for years with the elderly and had recently lost her grandmother, so being a Friendly Visitor to a senior sounded like something that might be right for her. “Mary from the Friendly Visitor Program put in a lot of time to find the right match. When I was paired with Sandra, it felt like we were friends for ages.”
Sandra suffered from respiratory issues that physically and emotionally wore her down, and she felt defeated, but Carissa recognized the fun-loving and rowdy soul within. “I listened to Sandra talk about the injustice of how her body had clipped her wings and didn’t accommodate her life anymore,” explains Carissa. “Once we chewed through that it was like the sun started to shine again. Sandra’s attitude improved as well as her health.”
With Carissa by her side, Sandra had the motivation to take her motorized scooter out to breakfast or ice cream or a special birthday dinner at her favorite restaurant where they treated her like a queen. The two also spent time watching old movies, dreamt up trips, had lots of laughs, talked about past experiences and hopes for the future.
Carissa was Sandra’s Friendly Visitor for two and half years until she passed away. “I never felt my volunteering was an obligation,” says Carissa. “And for anyone considering being a Friendly Visitor, I want them to know the great feeling of a hand-squeeze from a friend who understands, hearing the pureness of their laughter over the phone, and reading a hand-written card saying you’re being thought of. Sandra and I gave that to each other and I will forever be grateful.”