Volunteer Spotlight: Karen Phelps

When Karen Phelps began volunteering at St. John’s in September 2019, she did not know how much she would learn and discover about herself. “I have two older women, 87 and 75, in my life who I met randomly and they have encouraged me. They are both active seniors, and I have had some of my best conversations with them.” These inspirational relationships encouraged Karen to step outside of her comfort zone and volunteer with St. John’s.

“It has been such an amazing learning experience,” Karen says with a smile. At first she did not know how to interact with the acuity level of skilled nursing, but realized the simplest of gestures can go a long way. “Everyone is worthy of kindness and a conversation,” rightfully says Karen. She was interested in doing friendly visits at first and then also started helping transport residents to activities. “When I started I was still able to catch a few of the courtyard concert series and noticed there was a need for transporters.” However, Karen cherishes the friendly visits with residents due to the connections and interesting conversations she has.

Karen in Hastings before heading up for a friendly visit.

There are two residents that Karen sees on a weekly basis. “I feel like St. John’s is a place where I can truly be myself. I love talking to people, being silly, and enjoying connections.” One area that Karen has recently started to focus on is welcoming new residents to St. John’s. “The loss of control in a new environment must be scary at first,” notes Karen. She likes to encourage new residents by simply being a lending ear to them and offering a warm smile. “It has been very interesting for me to see and understand a resident’s perspective. Volunteering has become a way for me to stop focusing on myself and be immersed in a setting where I can not only help seniors, but engage in a rewarding experience.”

Our community is truly grateful to have volunteers like Karen, and we know our residents enjoy her company and attention. Volunteering can look different depending on the person, but it is universal that the simplest of interactions can make any resident’s day better. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Sandy Ferguson in Volunteer Services by calling 585-760-1293 or emailing her.

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