Senior Companions are Missoula Aging Services volunteers who make regular visits to older adults in the Missoula area, help with daily living tasks, and generally promote an increased quality of life. Today we shine a spotlight on one amazing local volunteer.
April 20, 2021
By Cassidy Belus
Betty joined Missoula Aging Services as a Senior Companion volunteer four years ago, but she has a long history of altruism. As a child, Betty was taught the importance of giving back. She nurtured this idea through adulthood and developed her own philosophy regarding volunteerism.
“I kind of look at volunteering like a circle. I feel like you give, but then you also receive, and those who receive also give,” Betty said.
She later added, “I may be giving some comfort or peace of mind but in return, I am also receiving the benefit of getting to know them, of being able to find some compassion – to me volunteering is just a normal way of living your life.”
Before retiring, Betty's compassion for older adults led her to work at Missoula Manor part-time. She only planned to work there for five years, but she stayed for 15. “I noticed [some residents] would be depressed or lonely because they had family members who would never come to see them or maybe they had just lost a spouse or something,” Betty said. “You know, they seemed so alone and afraid. So, I don’t know, I guess it was just knowing that some of those feelings they had or insecurities that they had – I just wanted to fill a little bit of that.”
After retiring, Betty joined the Senior Companion program in order to continue helping older adults. Pre-pandemic, Betty would regularly visit older adults in the Missoula area. She would help with daily tasks, provide friendship and provide caregivers a chance to take a break. When COVID-19 hit it forced already isolated people to be even more disconnected. Betty understood the need to social distance but worried for the mental health of clients. She, along with other Senior Companion volunteers, found new ways to connect. Betty makes at least one weekly phone call to each client and sends cards. She asked for clients’ permission to interview them and writes each one a biography.
She listens, and most of all, she genuinely cares. “There are so many people in our world, especially today, that just need somebody once in a while to talk to or know that somebody cares – that they’re not out there alone."
For more information about volunteer opportunities with Missoula Aging Services and AmeriCorps Seniors, click here.