By Brigid Morrissey
“Some people look for their love match through online dating sites or speed dating, but ElderServe is matching aging adults with volunteers to be their friendly companions and offer support.”
Lynn Cross, who’s been volunteering in the program for over three years, commits about four hours each month engaging with Beatrice, her 93-year-old pal. “Beatrice is amazing. She’s determined, she’s funny, and she inspires me daily.” After moving to Louisville in 2012 with her husband and two young sons, Lynn’s passion since childhood for the elderly ignited her action to join ElderServe. “I used to visit the senior center in our old town, so I figured the Friendly Visitor program would be a great fit for me.”
Her experiences serving others have taught Lynn to remain humble. “I truly have a soft spot for seniors. Their stories are intriguing, their knowledge is amazing, and their experience is endless. We have so much to learn from those that have lived far longer than the rest of us.” As those who give their time supporting a cause usually find out, they tend to walk away with more than they expected. Coinciding with the inspiration and lessons learned, Lynn empathizes with her elderly companions on their journey, bearing their pain and shouldering their burdens. “The thought of spending a lifetime with someone and then losing them tears my heart to pieces. I can’t even imagine being widowed after so much time. If I can momentarily distract them from the loneliness by spending time with them, I’m game.”
|(L-R) Megan Carpenter, volunteer services manager for ElderServe, with Beatrice and Lynn Cross.
Photos by Aubrey Hillis.
The time spent participating in arts and crafts activities, walking, playing games, and reading has been proven one of the most effective methods of preventative care. Beatrice and Lynn like to pass the time playing Uno and swapping stories about their families and Beatrice’s previous job as a nanny. “I visit Beatrice every other week. She still has family in Louisville, but her age restricts her from traveling, so she gets lonely.” When Lynn visits, however, she can see the difference in the 93-year-old’s demeanor. “Sometimes we just sit in the kitchen and talk. We laugh and have fun. Just seeing her in high spirits when I’m there is very rewarding. I benefit from it as well.”