Most people have a long “when I retire” wish list. It was a short list for Dianne and Brad Murray: spending time with family and volunteering.
When people think of Interfaith, they don’t often realize we have senior volunteers who provide Interfaith services such as transportation, help with grocery shopping, or even a few household chores for our older adult clients.
“Older Americans Month shows us that the word ‘senior’ doesn’t mean you’re too old to support yourself anymore,” said Felice Green, Public Relations and Marketing Director for Interfaith. “Being retired is simply the start of a new chapter. Dianne and Brad are outstanding examples of seniors who age out loud.”
Always active volunteers, Brad, 76, and Dianne, 71, have continued their commitment to helping others into retirement. Brad became a tutor for Milwaukee Public Schools and served with the Guest House, a Milwaukee homeless shelter. Together they are regulars with the St. Robert’s Parish food program, preparing and serving meals for an inner-city church. As they investigated other volunteer opportunities, the Murrays noticed that one segment of the population seemed to be forgotten: our community’s seniors.
“That’s a shame, because there is so much need,” Brad said. “Many seniors are alone. They are widows or widowers. They no longer drive, and have no family available to take them to medical appointments or grocery shopping.”
Then the Murrays discovered Interfaith and its focus on helping older adults. They’ve been enthusiastic boosters and drivers for about three years.
“For us, it means more than just driving,” Dianne explains. “We’ve gotten to be friends with many of our regular riders. It’s like having an extended family. We hear stories about their past lives, jobs, children, grandchildren, service to our country. It’s an amazing experience.”
Dianne believes that these medical and grocery store trips also bring older adults out of isolation and into the real world. And just as important, doctors’ visits, proper medication and nutritious food are all essential to mental and physical wellbeing.
“Stories like Dianne and Brad’s are an inspiration to all of us at Interfaith. They show us that retirement can mean you’re more active in your community than ever before,” Green said.
The Murrays like the flexibility Interfaith offers. Volunteers can specify the times they are available, whether it’s every other day, once a month, or even the time of day. Interfaith staff do the work of matching a volunteer with an older adult in need.
Dianne and Brad always allow a little extra time on their drives. Maybe there’s a need to pick up a prescription. Or after grocery shopping, they carry in and put away heavier items. Sometimes they read the small print on medication bottles, loosen a hard-to-open jar or change a light bulb.
“Our clients really appreciate everything we do and can’t thank us enough,” Brad said. “Sometimes we even get hugs. And I’m thinking we’ll all probably need these services someday.”