The CareGivers Volunteer Spotlight: Amy-Lynn Sullivan
Without incredible volunteers like Amy-Lynn Sullivan, a program like The CareGivers would not be possible. Without the selfless dedication of their time and gas mileage, many homebound and disabled seniors across Greater Manchester and Greater Nashua might not receive the groceries or rides to medical appointments they rely on, even more so in these uncertain times.
When the pandemic began last year, Amy-Lynn heard how many local seniors couldn’t make it to their medical appointments because they didn’t have a ride or were suffering from isolation due to lockdown. She knew she had to help. In just one year, she’s become a committed volunteer who’s made an incredible impact on the seniors she’s served.
She spoke with us about her experience as a volunteer and why supporting a program like CareGivers is essential to seniors:
What are some ways you assist with the CareGivers?
When I started at The CareGivers last May, I made reassurance calls, to check in on seniors feeling isolated and then moved on to providing rides for clients to medical appointments, the grocery store, or anywhere else they might need to go. Twice a month, I also pick up food packaged by the Caring Cupboard mobile food pantry program and drop them off to clients.
Most of our seniors are physically disabled, living in low-income housing, and receiving some other type of assistance. I’ve always believed that if you can help somebody, you should. Volunteering with The CareGivers is a way for me to help people who may not be so quick to ask for it. These seniors are holding onto that last shred of independence, and it’s not easy for them.
What do you personally gain from volunteering?
It’s hard to put into words the exact feeling, but there’s nothing better than knowing you’ve helped somebody. Whether you’re the first person to speak with them that day – or be there to give or receive a smile – I think the best word to describe that feeling is fulfillment.
In your mind, why is this work so important, especially after what we’ve experienced this past year?
During this pandemic, isolation is a massive concern for seniors. Clients are nervous to leave their homes and might not feel comfortable (or be able to afford) getting on a bus or calling a cab. They end up reaching out to The CareGivers as a last resort to get somewhere like the doctor’s office. What would happen if a senior couldn’t get to their medical appointment? We all know what waitlists are like right now. If they don’t make it to their appointment, are they going to be able to make it to another one? The CareGivers shows up for those clients and provides a real sense of security for them.
Can you talk about any special connections you have formed?
I had a client whom I assisted with rides to her dialysis appointments. When she exited the dialysis center after her appointment, she would smile as she saw my car waiting for her. It was nice to know that she felt safe and was happy to see me. When you become a regular driver for these types of clients, you get to know them well. During the rides, she would talk about her family and what’s going on in her life – we formed a strong connection.
Why would you encourage others to get involved?
Beyond the special bonds I’ve formed with clients, the best thing about The CareGivers is that you can volunteer around your schedule. With Caring Rides, a schedule of ride requests gets sent out via email, and you look and see if you can provide any of them. You volunteer at the rate at which you can accommodate into your own life. No matter your schedule, there are many flexible options.
Why are donations so important for The CareGivers?
Without The CareGivers, many NH seniors would be making tough decisions like choosing between paying for heat or paying for groceries. Or they may have to go into assisted living, while losing what they value most – their independence. CareGivers relies on donations and volunteers to keep running. It’s the people who are willing to donate their time and resources that help seniors maintain that sense of self, wellness and independence. That is incredibly valuable.