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April 7, 2022

A volunteer, a final wish, and a community that rallied to lend a hand.

By Jennifer Schultz

Iola Winters has been volunteering at Missoula Aging Services as a Senior Companion and a Task Force Member since February of 2018. In her role as Senior Companion, Iola helps older adults remain in their homes by providing companionship and assistance with daily living tasks. This often includes driving older adults to appointments and helping them run errands. As a member of the Task Force, Iola helps support the overall strength of Volunteer Services by mentoring new volunteers, guiding decision making, providing essential feedback, and acting as a voice for volunteers.

Iola’s volunteer journey at MAS has been prolific. To date, she has served 17 clients, provided 7,707 hours of service, and driven 9,548 miles (the equivalent of driving from Missoula to New York City and back, twice). Iola has also recruited other Senior Companions to help serve and is a wonderful ambassador of the Senior Companions program. According to Independent Sector, the current value of each volunteer hour is $28.54 which puts her contribution to the Missoula community at $219,958. Numbers aside, Iola’s dedication to serving the community was nearly interrupted, when fate stepped in.

Iola is a Senior Companion to Betty, a woman whose daughter, Roberta, had recently passed away unexpectedly. Right before Roberta died, she told her good friend, Jenni, about an amazing woman named Iola who was very special to her mother Betty. Iola had shared she wouldn’t be able to continue visiting Roberta’s mother as her Senior Companion because she was having problems with her car and didn’t have the means to make the repairs. Roberta told Jenni, “We need to get this woman a car, we have to make this happen for her.” Tragically, that was the last time Jenni heard from Roberta. Jenni took her friend’s final words to heart and set out to fulfill Roberta’s last request of getting a car for Iola Winters.

Jenni happened to be perfectly destined to carry out Roberta’s last wish. She and her dad Mark Lyman, owner of Lyman Motors, recently took a van in on-trade that they thought would be perfect to give to 80-year-old Iola so she could continue to serve as one of the Agency’s most active Senior Companion volunteers. Thereby fulfilling Roberta’s final wish and ensuring Iola didn’t have to stop doing the volunteer work that she so loves.

Missoula Aging Services relies on volunteers like Iola every day to aid in carrying out the mission to promote the independence, dignity, and health of older adults and those who care for them, and empowering people to age with confidence and without fear. The generous spirit of the community is treasured and appreciated daily at MAS, and this story is a good opportunity to celebrate the value of giving back. Iola’s dedication means the world to the Agency, and Lyman Motors stepping up to gift this vehicle to her will have lasting and resounding effects on older adults in our community.

Iola Winters received her van from Lyman Motors on April 6th, 2022, and continues to serve as a Senior Companion in Missoula County.


Interested in finding your volunteer passion at Missoula Aging Services? We are currently in need of more Senior Companions and Foster Grandparent volunteers. Click the button to learn more!