Community Heroes: Helping the Home-Bound

By Recker McDowell —

The city of Chandler has honored Ginger Voltmer for her volunteer work  with Neighbors Who Care.

The East Valley group helps connect home-bound, disabled, and older residents who live alone with supportive community volunteers. Those folks

Voltmer has been volunteering with the group the past four year and has been honored with one of Chandler’s Volunteer Recognition Awards. Her work includes 130 trips to the grocery store to shop for home-bound residents.

The city of Chandler’s Choosing Chandler Blog talked to Voltmer about her volunteer service and we hope to it encourages others to step forward for to help others.

Describe your work with Neighbors Who Care. What types of volunteer work do you participate in on a regular basis?

I’ve been with neighbors who care for four years. I work four-hour shifts at a time. On a typical day, I wait for phone calls and put in requests into the computer. Requests come for all different types of help — like shopping, errands, transportation, minor repairs, business help, balancing checkbooks, etc. Our biggest concern is making sure people get to their doctors’ appointments.

On top of the administrative work and scheduling, I have five people who I actually shop for and work with every week.

What drives you to volunteer? Why are you dedicated to helping people in Chandler?

I am retired, so I am fortunate enough to have the time to offer. Before I retired, I worked in retail and I was used to being around a lot of people. I feel like volunteering with Neighbors Who Care is my way to give back. My mother used a similar service in Northern California when she needed it, and I couldn’t be there to help out all the time. I couldn’t help her, but now is my time to help others.

It’s a wonderful organization and the longer I am there, the more friends I make. The people I work with are my clients, but they are also people! A lot of the people who need assistance can’t drive, can’t see, are hard of hearing, are very old, or they just need a lot of help. They are such sweet and appreciative humans. I consider them my friends now, and I enjoy getting to check in and visit and catch up.

I love being around people. It makes me feel good to be able to help them. That’s the main reason I do I do what I do. I like to think it does good and helps people who need it, but more than anything giving back makes me feel good!

How has COVID-19 impacted the work you do, as well as the organizations and individuals you work with?

Because of the situation with COVID-19, right now we are only allowing clients with medical appointments in the car with us. It’s been difficult on us and the people we serve. For example, I have to do the shopping for them with their lists, and if I need to swap an item, I can’t be there with them to make sure they are getting what they need.

Also, right now a lot of volunteers feel uncomfortable coming into the office, so there aren’t very many right now. Basically, I am by myself now in the office most days, but they gave me an extra day, so now I get to come in two days a week instead of one.

Are there any stories about the people you work with you’d be willing to share to demonstrate the importance of Neighbors Who Care?

This virus has been particularly hard on the people I work with because so many people are just lonely. They just want somebody to come sit and talk with them, and we cannot do that these days because of safety concerns. I would say that is the thing I notice most about people. They are tied up in their house even more than usual now. All the people I work with live completely alone.

The other day I shopped for a woman who is 93 years old. She lives alone and will soon be moving into an assisted living community. She was in tears and so upset at the thought of leaving her freedom. The facilities aren’t allowing visitors right now because of the virus, and she won’t be able to go anywhere except sit in her room. It’s going to be very hard on her. It breaks my heart, but I can’t do anything about it unfortunately. I can’t go keep her company.

When it is safe, I encourage people to check in with their elderly friends, family and neighbors and make the effort to check in and keep people company. So many people just need the company and it makes a big difference.

How does it feel to be recognized for the service you provide to the community?

Being nominated for this award was one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me in my entire life. Before COVID, I also used to volunteer with my HOA. They published a bit about the award in our monthly bulletin. I felt like I was a movie star because of how many people came to congratulate me. My family was so proud of me. It was so amazing, and I am still amazed by it. I am just a normal person that likes to help other people.