Diane Dumbauld and Star McKay are sisters who are involved in the Visiting Nurse Association of Greater St. Louis’ (VNA) Visit-A-Bit program, a program aimed toward providing lonely seniors with enthusiastic companions. Even prior to joining Visit-A-Bit, they were passionate about serving the senior community, and the unique opportunity to serve a senior in this intimate and fun way was exciting to them.
Diane and Star first heard about the VNA after doing research into volunteer opportunities on VolunteerMatch. They had been involved with Meals on Wheels and art classes for seniors, but once COVID-19 hit, they needed to find alternative means of serving the senior community. They reached out to VNA in January of 2021, and by February, they were paired with their senior participant. They’ve been visiting him weekly ever since.
Diane and Star try to change up their visits every week. They typically call their participant a day or two in advance of their visits to determine what they’d like to do, and many more opportunities are available to them now that they’ve all been vaccinated. They’ve met him in the activities center where he lives, gone grocery shopping and recently have made trips to a local Starbucks so they can enjoy the warmer weather over coffee. They’re hoping to make it to the Missouri Botanical Garden soon.
Although he was reserved at first, Diane and Star have loved seeing their senior open up to them and share more of his history and himself. They appreciate his wealth of knowledge and the stories he has to tell about his life.
What most attracted Diane and Star to Visit-A-Bit was how it fits into a need that they see as lacking. They lost their father last year, and they remember how many people in his memory care facility had nobody to visit them. Same with when they volunteered with Meals on Wheels; oftentimes, they were some of the only people that clients would see during the week.
The benefit of visiting their senior participant together is that if one of them can’t make it, the other can fill in so that they don’t have to miss any weeks. They also appreciate the dynamic of having two people with different personalities for their senior to interact with, always making sure there’s never a dull conversation.
Diane and Star want people considering volunteering to know that the experience is fulfilling on both sides. They appreciate seeing the joy that their visits bring their senior, and it’s just as enjoyable for the two of them as they get a chance to bond with each other.
For more information about how to volunteer, visit the Visit-A-Bit website.