Disco dancer and empty nester find friendship amid pandemic

Back in the day, I was a card-carrying disco dancer– I even
had my own locker at the club and a VIP pass to get in!

I danced with the likes of Madonna, Salt-N-Pepa, and the YMCA crew at Dance-A-Thons to raise money for charity. I’ve traveled across the U.S. and Mexico, attended political protests, and as a member of the media covered riots in Los Angeles, even once escaping some harrowing circumstances by running through backyards and climbing over fences.

I was in New York when the twin towers went down and escaped the choking white ash by walking five hours to get home.

Back then I was able, active, and independent.

Then several years ago that all changed. One afternoon, I felt a horrible, stabbing pain while working at the local library. I had torn two tendons in my foot.

My feet that had carried me so far in life quickly confined me to a wheelchair.

I’d been so independent, but now knew I needed help. So I called Community Partners in Caring. That’s how I met Melanie.

In January 2020, I was about to become an empty nester. My youngest, my only son, would soon leave for boot camp to become a Marine.

As I thought about the months ahead, I felt pulled to use my newfound time to do more – to give back.

I saw a Facebook post from Community Partners in Caring seeking volunteers to drive seniors the places they needed to go.

I immediately knew exactly where and how I needed to spend my coming time and energy!

I had long spent time behind the wheel shuttling my three kids and their friends to sports and school events over the years. Shifting to driving my older neighbors now to their appointments and needs instead was exciting to think about. And so I grabbed my keys and jumped into action.

Then just two months later, a pandemic struck. 

I, like so many others, was cut off from my aging parents (they live in Arizona), and that really concerned me.

In January 2020, I was about to become an empty nester. My youngest, my only son, would soon leave for boot camp to become a Marine.

As I thought about the months ahead, I felt pulled to use my newfound time to do more – to give back.

I saw a Facebook post from Community Partners in Caring seeking volunteers to drive seniors the places they needed to go.

I immediately knew exactly where and how I needed to spend my coming time and energy!

I had long spent time behind the wheel shuttling my three kids and their friends to sports and school events over the years. Shifting to driving my older neighbors now to their appointments and needs instead was exciting to think about. And so I grabbed my keys and jumped into action.

Then just two months later, a pandemic struck. 

I, like so many others, was cut off from my aging parents (they live in Arizona), and that really concerned me.

 

But COVID made me realize that while I could not be with my parents in Arizona, I could be a positive force for others’ parents who lived near me in Orcutt – those with relatives far away like I was from my own parents.

So I doubled-down to do even more for seniors in need across our county. In the last year and a half, I’ve helped dozens of seniors with their groceries and other delivery needs.

In all that time, there’s one face that stands out for me. Even though she’s masked each time I see her, I can tell in her eyes that Margaret is always smiling when she sees me arriving with her groceries.

Margaret is sweet, considerate, and at times, a bit spunky. She nearly always has a book in her hand, and always has amazing stories about sailing catamarans, meeting musicians like Santana in New York theaters, or dancing with stars on Hollywood’s Sunset Strip. 

Her foot injury is a setback for such an otherwise incredibly energetic lady. I know just how grateful Margaret is for the lifeline that Community Partners in Caring has provided to her during the pandemic. Having volunteers like me safely deliver her groceries has given her rare and valuable peace of mind.

And for me, I feel that the connections I’ve made volunteering for seniors like Margaret have been a natural remedy for these times.

Nearly weekly, Melanie stops by, picks up my list, and shops for and delivers my groceries – right to my door! At times, she also makes sure I get to my doctor’s appointments.

Throughout the pandemic, having Melanie as a volunteer has been a real lifeline.

I’ve now had foot surgery and graduated to walking with a walker. I hope soon to move to a cane. But my dream is to fully walk again (and maybe even dance!).

And when I can, I intend to grab my car keys and become a Community Partners in Caring volunteer like Melanie to help others in need.