I truly believe that our own success must contribute to the success of someone else. I contribute to seniors. Every senior has a story to tell, if you'll just ask. And as they're telling that story, you see that glimmer in their eye that they're so pleased that you would listen, and the fun they're having telling that story. But what they really don't know or realize is what it has done for you.
When I was a young girl, I used to spent my summers with my precious grandparents in West Virginia. So enjoyed the time with them, and they taught me so many things of value. They taught me about ethics, and they also taught me to do things with aplomb and a smile. And that has carried with me throughout my life. The love for seniors and the joy that they truly can bring.
I actually went through high school working with senior groups and went away to college at a young age, to actually be an Episcopal missionary. I did not end up doing that. But I do work with seniors today. I ran as-- executive director-- I ran this facility-- that actually was a clinic-- of 493 volunteers. At that time, I was not working with the seniors.
So Canterbury House in Charleston, South Carolina had asked if I would come and help create some programs, work with them, and run their facility. What Canterbury House didn't seem to have when I arrived was some way to take care of the seniors. So they could stay in their home longer.
So we developed some programs that were called Project Housecalls. It involved physical, occupational, speech therapy, nurses on campus during the day. What we did was to truly keep the residents in their own home longer. They were able to live at Canterbury's, they wanted to die at Canterbury, they did not want to go to an assisted living or nursing home.
I am now a voice for them. They need to have those advocates that will be a voice to speak up for them because they cannot themselves. To give you a perspective of some of the seniors that I am saying are disadvantaged or under-served, I'll give you an example.
Just one example of a senior that did not have furniture for her apartment. So someone gave her a sofa, but it didn't have cushions. She had a mattress that had been on the floor, so she decided she didn't need the mattress. Cut it up in the sizes of her cushions. Cut the mattress with scissors to make cushions which she covered with towels to make her sofa complete. Resourcefulness, courage, we can't even compare to the things that they struggle with every day.
If you asked me, what am I proud of about the programs? I would say that the programs have truly been able to help thousands of people. Thousands of seniors have a better quality to their life. And that is something that not one person can do, but a community truly working together can make this happen.
So in saying that, I pass on a challenge to anyone that is hearing or listening to this. I challenge you to go to a housing community. Go into a senior community somewhere, or a nursing home, or assisted living. Or somewhere in your community and volunteer. Become part of your community. You will not believe what it truly will do to enrich your life and help your community.