Marvin, or ‘Marv’ as he is called by friends, has seen and lived through a lot since his birth on Christmas Day, 1924. His time in the Navy brought life-changing experiences in the form of convoy duty on the U.S. Cincinnati Cruiser in the Atlantic and participation in the Invasion of Southern France during World War II. Living through the Great Depression also had a long-term impact on him. To this day Marv still gets choked up talking about it. “People in the food line were starving. They didn’t have enough food to eat. You can’t imagine!” He acknowledges how these memories have shaped who he is today.
Marv looks back on the more positive times in his life with fondness and an uncanny ability to remember the smallest of details. For example, despite the challenges around being drafted into the military right out of high school, he speaks with enthusiasm about attending college under the G.I. Bill and meeting his future wife during training in Wisconsin. “It so happens I was in a barracks with 7 other guys on the edge of a lake. Four of us were walking along the lake and saw these gals standing by the dock. Someone else liked Ruth too, but I was the Platoon Leader, so I said, ‘Hey – she’s mine!’” Sharing one of his favorite reflections about Ruth, Marv says, “We didn’t have any money, but we paid 15 cents each to get into the movies and smooch!” He adds, “I gave her a ring before I got out of the service. It was a delightful relationship.” Ruth passed away after they shared 59 years together, leaving Marv to face the remainder of his life without her by his side.
Personal hardships inspired in Marv a need to be involved in his community and to serve others. He takes pride in the fact that he still leads the senior’s group and is on the board of directors at his church, and also of his 30-year membership the local chapter of in Sons In Retirement (SIRS.) “I’m active, I’ve always been involved. It is important to me.” As Marv aged, he became dependent on his walker, needed help to take care of his basic needs, forfeited his license due to a medical condition, and as a result lost much of his independence. When Marv realized that the fulfillment he received from life-long community involvement and his active lifestyle were at risk, he reached out to his local senior center and was referred to Meals on Wheels Diablo Region (MOWDR).
After initially securing Marv’s daily nutrition needs through our Meals on Wheels Program, MOWDR staff assessed other ways we could help Marv feel safer in his home and regain his ability to live the lifestyle for which he had worked so hard. Our Fall Prevention Program came to Marv’s home and coached him with exercises to help improve his balance. Once his physical needs were addressed, we asked Marv if he would be interested in receiving visits from a Friendly Visitors Program volunteer. “(MOWDR) told me somebody would come and visit with you and help you do things. I thought it was great!” Enter Bob.
Bob retired in 2012, and when he realized how much time he had on his hands he started looking for something to do. “I wanted to volunteer some place I would enjoy what I was doing, so I called MOWDR. I was asked if I would be willing to try out Friendly Visitors. They gave me a little background on Marvin and we met.” Marv adds, “He came out and we kinda hit it off. I thought Bob was great! He likes to do things I like to do, he helps around the house, he backs me up ‘cause I forget some of the stuff I need to do. He’s like a son.” Bob shares that one of their connections is that both went to school in Wisconsin. He says that another commonality is food. “One of our common bonds we have – we love to eat!” Bob also understands Marv’s need to stay connected and involved, “If I was not able to drive around at all and was housebound except for relying on other people, that would be tough.” So, the friends go on outings to lunch, movies, meetings, doctor appointments, and sometimes a drive just to get out together.
Connections – to lifesaving nutrition, to staying physically active, to friendships, to independence, to critical resources, to living the kind of life the older adults in our community have earned. Connections are how we meet our goal to empower older adults to live independently and with dignity in their homes for as long as possible. And connections are why we are asking for your help.