Caring for Friends™ volunteer visitors Dee and Frank Carr are well known within the organization as Secular Franciscans and work hard to help as many Caring for Friends clients as possible.
“We are so lucky to have such dedicated volunteers.”
–Steven Schiavone, Caring for Friends Executive Director
“We are so lucky to have such dedicated volunteers. They remind me of the prayer of St. Francis: ‘Where there is despair, [let me bring] hope, Where there is darkness, [let me bring] light, Where there is sadness, [let me bring] joy,’” said Steven Schiavone, Caring for Friends Executive Director.
One particular Caring for Friends client who has noticed the work of Dee and Frank is Beth Martin, an upbeat Philadelphia native who attended elementary through high school in the city.
Beth found her passion in work within the travel industry in 1967.
“I worked in travel so long, I booked Adam and Eve to the Garden. That’s a common joke in the industry,” she said. A great perk of the job was discounted fares for cruises, which allowed Beth to become a frequent and confident traveler.
Fellow travelers, even famous ones, would sense this and often asked her questions. While on a “Theater at Sea” cruise, Beth had lunch with Lynn Redgrave and her daughter. She also spoke with Lillian Gish (known as “The First Lady of American Cinema”), Mildred Natwick (known for Barefoot in the Park), and Tammy Grimes (Tony Award-winner for Broadway’s original The Unsinkable Molly Brown).
Another remarkable memory Beth has from while working as a travel agent was a chance meeting with a retired marine. She told him about her father, a Marine who served at Guadalcanal, who unfortunately passed away of polio when Beth was just 2 years old. A long conversation followed and ended with the man asking for her father’s military information. After several months of phone calls, the Marine presented Beth with 5 medals that her father earned during his service with the US Marine Corps.
In 1999, Beth began experiencing a pins and needles sensation in her legs, which ultimately led to a multiple sclerosis diagnosis. She received weekly injections that kept her on her feet for a few years. However, in late 2004 she fell to the floor while walking in her home. She went to the ER at Frankford Hospital and stayed for 4 weeks. Although she recovered quickly, she fell again 2 weeks later.
The therapists had her walking with a walker, but Beth started using a wheelchair and lying in bed a lot. This
caused her 1 strong leg to weaken and hastened the onset of immobility. Beth has been bedbound for the past 4 years. She used to live in the Frankford section of Philadelphia, but moved to Levittown to be close to a cousin who lived in Bristol. Devastatingly, her cousin died suddenly, leaving Beth without her main support.
Luckily, Caring for Friends visitor volunteers Dee and Frank Carr live in the area and began delivering meals and providing companionship to Beth.
“Thanks to Dee and Frank and our cook volunteers, Beth has a steady source of free meals delivered to her house every week. But it would not happen without Caring for Friends and the significant effort and personal sacrifice of our volunteer cooks and visitors,” says Steven Schiavone.
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.