Serving the ‘forgotten people’
Elder care with a touch of humour earns volunteer Canada 150 medal.
Beverley Slofstra drops by the full-care wing of her retirement home so often that even the residents with dementia light up when they see her.
“They may not know their own family, but they know me. It’s a beautiful feeling. They’re often quite short on staff, so they love it when I come around the corner,” says the 78-year-old volunteer, who spends as many as five days a week visiting and feeding residents at the Parkview Meadows Christian Retirement Village in Townsend, southwest of Hamilton, Ont. “They’re the forgotten people. It’s good to just be there for them. The Lord gave me good health and a sense of humour – two things you need there.”
Slofstra stretches those comedic chops a few times a year, trotting out a stand-up routine complete with multiple costume changes as after-dinner entertainment for senior support services.
Her tireless support of the elderly caught the attention of MP Diane Finley, who awarded Slofstra a Canada 150 medal last November. In the absence of a national program, Finley and other MPs paid for medals to honour community builders in their ridings.
A lifelong volunteer – Slofstra spent years catering food for school fundraisers – it was natural to pitch in eight years ago when she moved to Parkview Meadows, where she also works in the tuck shop, updates decor and makes Christmas dinners.
“Volunteering keeps you young. There is so much you can do to make people happy.”