When Judy Olmstead first signed up to volunteer at Arkansas City Presbyterian Manor, she assumed she would be calling bingo or something similar. Instead, Judy was paired with a resident who has become an inspiration and joy in her life.
For almost three years, Judy has been coming once a week to serve as a personal volunteer to Grace Potter, who is blind. Judy writes letters for Grace or reads to her. Sometimes, they’ll work a crossword puzzle together or check in on the day’s activities. And they always pray together.
“Almost from the first moment I met Grace, I thought, ‘What a wonderful lady!’ She is cheerful and bright and looks upon the world as a blessing from God each day,” Judy said. “And how many people could maintain that attitude every day?”
A few months into her retirement, Judy said, her pastor announced at church that Presbyterian Manor needed volunteers. (He leads a Bible study on the campus on Wednesdays.) Judy’s mother had lived here, and she thought it would be a good fit. She expected to be helping with activities for all. Instead, social worker Lori Peters asked Judy if she would agree to work with a single resident.
Now, both women look forward to their hour together. “Grace has a great family that loves her, and she does not want for love in her family. But I think why she appreciates me so much is that it’s a scheduled visit. It’s between meals, and nothing will interfere with it,” Judy said. “It may be a highlight of her week, but it is most certainly a highlight of mine.”
Judy also serves on the advisory council for Arkansas City Presbyterian Manor, and she knows how valuable our volunteers are to every neighborhood and need. Residents and staff treat her like a member of the family, she said.
This month, we’ll honor Judy and many more of our wonderful volunteers on Thursday, April 13, with a reception at 2 p.m. in the dining room.
Judy encourages everyone to give volunteering a try, because the benefits go both ways. “I miss it when I’m out of town,” she said. “I never would have realized how rewarding this is, to meet someone with such a phenomenal attitude.”
And as it turns out, Judy has gotten to call a few bingo games after all, too.