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Aid for Friends is now known as Caring for Friends

Bingo queen slows down after 90

Kathleen is a 92-year-old woman who grew up in South Philadelphia. A graduate of Hallahan Catholic, she was married in St. Gabriel’s Church to her husband, who was also from South Philly. Fifty-five years ago, they moved to a brand-new house in Northeast Philadelphia where she still lives today. Kathleen had 2 sons and a daughter. When she and her husband got divorced after 20 years, her children went with her husband. Although her children don’t live too far away, they don’t visit Kathleen often. She never remarried. And though she had 2 younger brothers, an older brother, and an older sister, they have all passed away.

But Kathleen isn’t without some family. She is close with her granddaughter, with whom she used to travel. However, it’s more difficult for her granddaughter to visit since moving to Bermuda.

One of Kathleen’s favorite pastimes is bingo. She used to go at least 1 day a week to a senior center to play. She also went to walk-in bingo, an establishment that does nothing but bingo, from 10 AM to 10 PM.

She wasn’t just all about fun and games. Kathleen spent 13 years working at Whitman’s Chocolates in Northeast Philadelphia.

“I handled the chocolates, but I did a much better job and was much more orderly than Lucy,” Kathleen joked, referencing the “I Love Lucy” scene at the chocolate factory with Lucy and Ethel. She also worked at the IRS office on Roosevelt Boulevard during tax season.

But everything changed 1 day 3 years ago when Kathleen was driving her car and her legs would not allow her to press the brake pedal. She has weakness in her legs and her doctors are still not sure what is causing it. Her legs experienced tremendous swelling. She ultimately decided to sell her car because she could no longer drive. She has also been diagnosed with cancerous masses, which must be checked and removed on a regular basis.

Kathleen’s main support is her niece, who is a 70-year-old home health aide for Holy Redeemer. She is Kathleen’s ride to the doctors and stops by to take Kathleen’s trash out. Her niece’s daughter also stops by to clean Kathleen’s house when her schedule allows. Both her niece and her niece’s daughter work full-time, and do what they can for Kathleen.

But thanks to Caring for Friends™, Kathleen has another friend.

Mary Williams has been her Caring for Friends visitor since the spring of 2016. Mary helps Kathleen make her doctor appointments and ensures she has everything she needs, including a much-needed pair of shoes Mary brought her from the Caring for Friends gift room.

Although Kathleen’s substantial decrease in independence was difficult for her, she’s happy to have her niece, grandniece, Caring for Friends visitor Mary, and Caring for Friends volunteer cooks to lean on for help and support.

Caring for Friends volunteer visitor Mary Williams and client Kathleen McDonough from South Philadelphia
Caring for Friends volunteer visitor Mary Williams and client Kathleen McDonough

Caring for Friends, formerly Aid for Friends, is a Philadelphia-area nonprofit with a network of volunteers who deliver meals and offer friendship to seniors and other isolated individuals across the greater Philadelphia region.

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