Cheryl worked for 22 years at St. Joseph Manor as the Director of Cafeteria Services and knew the importance of tasty, nutritious meals for the elderly residents. She learned about Caring for Friends™, formerly known as Aid for Friends, from her husband after he heard Caring for Friends founder Rita Ungaro-Schiavone speak at a mass at St. Jerome’s Church in Philadelphia. As soon as Cheryl retired, she volunteered to become a visitor for Caring for Friends and was assigned to visit Margaret—the 2 women had an instant connection upon meeting.
Cheryl loved visiting Margaret each week and bringing her meals that she often made herself because Margaret loved Italian cooking.
Margaret’s husband had passed away 5 years earlier. And though she had 3 children, none of them lived nearby. Just 1 son managed to visit her once or twice a month, however his arthritis and recent shoulder surgery had made it that much more difficult to visit. Her other 2 children seldom found the time to visit her. Margaret had to give up her pet dog because she was no longer able to take care of it on her own.
In addition to being alone, Margaret had multiple illnesses including severe heart and kidney problems, for which she required dialysis 3 times each week.
One Christmas Cheryl brought her gifts from the Caring for Friends gift room: pajamas and a robe that Margaret needed. As Cheryl was leaving the gift room, she noticed a small bottle of White Diamonds perfume and thought it would be a great surprise for Margaret. Cheryl was so excited when she got to Margaret’s home with the festively wrapped gifts—so much so that Cheryl said she didn’t know who the happier person was that day.
Margaret opened each gift and when she finally opened the bottle of White Diamonds, Margaret got so excited and exclaimed, “I never had good perfume” and asked to have some put behind her ears.
Although Margaret unfortunately was placed in a rehabilitation facility for therapy resulting from a fall, Cheryl continues to visit her each week and hopes Margaret will be home for the next holiday season to celebrate with her again.
When Cheryl first volunteered for Caring for Friends, she thought it would be a compassionate thing to do, but she had no idea how happy becoming a visitor volunteer would make her.
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.