Nursing home volunteers give, but also receive
Angela Lubo wanted her kids to be comfortable around all types of people, so they took a trip to the St. Croix County Nursing Home earlier this year.
They've been going back to volunteer twice a month ever since.
"A lot of people don't know how to deal with old people or handicapped people. I want my kids to know and be comfortable," she explained.
Next week, April 19-24, is National Volunteer Appreciation Week. Many volunteers, like Angela and her two kids, say that they give their time for the good feeling they get from helping others.
Angela said she grew up around mentally challenged and elderly people. Her mom worked at Bethesda Lutheran Home in St. Paul, Minn. Angela and a friend used to visit the residents to paint their nails and style their hair.
She sometimes tagged along when her mom did home care for mentally challenged people, Angela said. An aunt and uncle of hers are also mentally challenged, she said.
Now, her kids Alexis, 11, and Tyler, 13, are having similar experiences while making new friends at the St. Croix Health Center Nursing Home.
One day shortly after Christmas, Angela and Alexis decided to take a trip to the home.
"The stories she (Angela) tells me made me want to go," Alexis explained.
When the pair got home, they told Tyler all about their time there. He decided he wanted to go too.
Now Tyler makes the bi-monthly trip as well. He's even got a buddy there, Angela said.
"He (the resident) remembers Tyler's name," Angela said. He doesn't remember her or Alexis' names though.
Typically, the trio plays Crazy Eights with a regular group of four to five residents.
Alexis said she had never played the card game before she started volunteering, giving the residents a one-up on her.
"They all knew how," she said.
Angela said she's trying to think of other activities to do with the residents while they are there.
No matter what the activity, the residents like having the family around.
"They really look forward to it," Angela said. "They count on us to be there."
Sometimes residents are waiting for them by the elevator when they get there at 6:30 p.m., she said.
It's not always easy to find time to go to the nursing home, Angela said. She runs a day care from her home. Alexis plays basketball, and is in the book club, the gifted and talented program and a leadership program at New Richmond Middle School. Tyler plays football, basketball, baseball and runs track.
"Some days it's just chaotic," Angela said. "But I make myself go and when I get home I'm so glad that I went. I don't want to disappoint them."
"It's really fun," Alexis said for her reasons to volunteer.
The kids have been asked if they want to spend extra hours there this summer.
Alexis said she wants to go to the nursing home more in the summer. Tyler is planning to as well, Angela said.
Residents need help when they're outside gardening or sitting on the patio during the warmer months.
"During the summer the kids don't have something to do every day," Angela said. "They'd rather help other people rather than me," she joked.
The nursing home could always use more volunteers, said Cindy Prokash, activity director at the St. Croix County Nursing Home. Currently, about 22-25 people volunteer on a weekly basis.
"The volunteers we have are really fantastic," Prokash said.
A few activities they could use volunteers for are at Tuesday morning church services, weekend Hallway Bingo, weekend coffee hour and snacks and summer patio time.
People interested in volunteering at the nursing home have to submit paperwork and pass a background check, Prokash said. To set up an interview to start the paperwork or to find out about more volunteering opportunities at the nursing home, call Prokash at 246-8277.
Alexis has an answer ready for anyone who asks her if they should start volunteering.
"I would say 'yeah.' It's really fun," she said.