Part of Sharing the Love theme with the month of February is acknowledging and thanking those that have taken their time and energy and volunteered with us at disAbility Connections (dC). John Conley is one of those volunteers and the other day I had the pleasure of talking with him and hearing his voice (It's nice to hear a voice you haven't heard in a while, reach out and call a friend!) along with how he has been doing since COVID hit and about his time volunteering with dC.
Following retirement he realized as many other retirees find, he had some time and he wanted to give back. So he began volunteering at the hospital and through that, he found to really like giving back to the community. John also enjoyed going to Jackson Crossing and taking walks with fellow community members. During one of his walks at Jackson Crossing, he mentioned that he was looking for other places to volunteer. Unbeknown to him, Jerry Jenkins (a board member at dC) heard the comment and suggested he check out disAbility Connections as a potential fit. It’s now 10 years later that he has been a dedicated volunteer with dC, coming in 1-2 days (pre-COVID) a week assisting at the front desk and wherever else he can help.
When I asked why he felt the urge to begin volunteering, he referred back to something that his father had mentioned and demonstrated “You have to give back before you take.” Aside from referring back to what had stuck with him from his father, he mentioned that he has really enjoyed the environment and the people he has been able to know over the years working for dC and helping the people coming through the doors for assistance. Some of his greatest pleasure has been taking people back into the Loan Closet room of durable medical equipment and helping people get what they will need to make their life easier and safer at home. Even mentioning how once people are back there, he can point other equipment that may be helpful but the person hadn’t thought of yet. They may have come in looking for a walker, but he can also point out the helpful options such as a shower bench or a commode. “It’s heartwarming to help people in need.”
COVID has taken away his ability to volunteer which is unfortunate not only for him but selfishly for us as well as we don’t get to see and talk with him on a weekly basis anymore. There is a benefactor in this scenario though. Nina, his rescue dog has been able to relish in some extra lavish attention and time spent with him. As any pet lover will attest, seeing their faces and eyes light up when you enter the room or looking back at you with unconditional love is a feeling that warms the heart and soul.
John, on behalf of dC, THANK YOU for your extended support and service. We truly appreciate all that you have done with us. Without you (and all the others) that have given us your precious time and energy over the years, we wouldn’t be the organization we are today. Now give Nina an extra treat, ear scratches, and some belly rubs from the staff at dC. We look forward to seeing you back at the office once we can all be together again.