Butler Resident Volunteers for Concordia Despite Disability

Contact: Shirley Freyer
Concordia Lutheran Ministries
Tel: 1-724-352-1571 x8266

Butler Resident Volunteers for Concordia Despite Disability

Cabot, PA - One of the beautiful things about volunteering is that one doesn't need to fit into a specific mold to help another human being. Young or old; black or white; short or tall - there is very little criteria for lending a hand in some way.

As 84-year-old Butler resident Jean June has shown, not even a wheelchair and declining health needs to stop one from supporting others.

Since 2008, June has served as a volunteer with Concordia Tele-CareGivers, making daily phone calls to older, often homebound individuals to make sure they are responsive and able to answer the phone.

"I would rather be in their homes helping, but I do what I can," she said. "We have good laughs, and you never know what kind of conversation you're going to have."

On average, June makes about five phone calls per day, some lasting 60 seconds and some 15 minutes, depending on the person on the other end of the line. She recalled one woman who was particularly withdrawn - but June eventually broke through.

"I called her for weeks, and each day she would say 'I don't feel like talking today,' and I would tell her 'that's fine,'" June said. "Then one day, the woman finally broke the ice, talking about how she was a nurse during World War II. We had a real good talk."

Another person on her call list, a woman from Jefferson City, was new to the program. Upon receiving a call at 8:30 a.m. on her first day, the woman quickly called Program Coordinator Sandie Ross and demanded that no one calls her before 9 a.m., "not a minute sooner!"

The next day, June hesitantly called the woman at 9:01. Since then, the two have become great friends.

"We're trying to find a way to meet up, but for now we're happy just talking on the phone," June said.

Ironically, before volunteering with seniors, June volunteered as a babysitter in her church in Florida, where she used to live. And she's certainly had plenty of experience with children: she has three living daughters (one deceased), nine grandchildren, 13 great grandchildren and one great great granddaughter.

In addition to volunteering, she enjoys seeing family, doing puzzles and learning. And she has absolutely no plans of slowing down anytime soon.

"I don't feel my age and I'm told I don't look my age," she said with a laugh. "If I had it my way, I wouldn't be watching football on TV; I'd be out there playing."

Established in 2001, Concordia Tele-CareGivers is operated solely by volunteers who make brief calls from 8 - 10 a.m. Monday thru Friday. Sometimes, the clients end up being the volunteers as well.

To volunteer, the qualifications are to be functioning by 8 a.m., at home until 10 a.m., good on the telephone (particularly with the elderly) and able to recognize a problem and report it appropriately.

For more information or to get involved, call Program Coordinator Sandie Ross at 724.352.6260.