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Volunteers make all the difference

Our community is blessed to have a number of volunteers dedicated to making life easier and more joyful for our residents and staff. As we celebrate Volunteer Appreciation Week April 7-13, we’re putting the spotlight on two individuals who go the extra mile for us.

Bob Salem has been a volunteer bus driver for us for almost two years. He takes residents to the grocery store a few times each month. He has driven adventure-seeking residents on a number of field trips to museums and a café outside of town. He even has an upcoming trip planned to Prairie Band Casino.

“I enjoy being able to help people and visit with the people there. I also enjoy driving, so it’s all fun for me,” said Bob.

Bob got involved as a volunteer for our community after he retired. He also spends his time delivering Meals on Wheels. He’s president of the board for the Salina Child Care Association, the treasurer of the board for the Salina Community Theatre, a part-time check signer for the First Presbyterian Church and a member of the Salina Breakfast Bandits.

“I have time to help, and I’m happy to help,” said Bob.

Another volunteer with time on her hands and music in her heart is Nancy Thompson. Nancy has been playing the piano for our community for 13 years.

“I go into memory care on Tuesdays and Fridays at 11 and we sing together for 30 minutes. When they go into the dining area to eat at 11:30, I’ll stay and play for them awhile. Sometimes the aides will come out and say, ‘they’re singing in there along with you.’”

Nancy brings song sheets from the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s so residents can sing along. Patriotic songs and old hymns are popular requests. But there’s one song that tops them all.

“’You are my Sunshine’ is probably our theme song. We always say, ‘it’s gloomy outside, but we can make it sunny in here.’ We always laugh,” said Nancy.

For Nancy, volunteering at our community is a way for her to give back to our residents but also herself.

“The most fun is when they come in draggy and tired, and we start playing and you can see it in their eyes and pretty soon they’re singing or humming along. Once in a while I’ll see dancing going on,” said Nancy. “I’m 82-years-old and found volunteering keeps me going. I probably would’ve given up on playing so much if I didn’t have someone to play for.”

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