What I Learned From Taking Care of My Mom Until the Day She Died

“I’m sh**t*ng in my diaper!” my mom yelled out to me. She was going through a period of uncontrollable bowels due to her many medications. Mommy needed my help and I did what I had to do.

Eventually, the disease got to her major joints and resulted in a lot of replacements. Hip, knee, foot, hand… Name it, she got it. Mobility became very difficult. Mom was in and out of the hospital and in nursing homes recovering so often that her illness became a normal part of my life. Her missing my major life events like senior prom, college graduation, and my engagement party (JK. That didn’t happen. Still single, guys.) was no big deal. It was life.

In high school, I often woke up in the middle of the night to help her use the bathroom. Then began my routine of me showering her every so often. And when I came home from college, it wasn’t to go out and catch-up with high school friends at the latest rager. It was to relieve my brother and father from their mommy duties.

It can be trapping, having to take care of a sick parent. Especially one that basically needs around the clock care. You feel like you can’t leave the house…ever. I didn’t have weekends for a very long time. I never went to a single brunch because I had to stay home while my brother and dad went to work. I began to resent my mom’s sickness but never her. She didn’t choose to become that ill. But home was never an oasis of peace. It was a place of constant worry and work. My mother never seemed to be getting better. It was either the same or worse.

Ultimately, I learned the true meaning of love and patience from my mother’s situation. When she could no longer walk and had limited movement with her arms, she moved at a slug’s pace. Helping her to use the bedpan or get comfortable in bed required gingerly actions. And after having to clean her up multiple times from accidents, like sh*tt*n$ in her diaper, you appreciate life a little more and learn to love a little more.

Written by: Dara Adeeyo

Dara Adeeyo is a freelance writer and has been published on Thought Catalog and Cosmopolitan Magazine. Check out her website here to read more about her and her work!

Where Are We Headed Next?

This has been the big question. My answer has been: “Where are we not headed?” Everything is coming at us full force and we are loving every second of it! Whether we are being retweeted byJodi Picoult, featured in an amazing seven minute mini-documentary, or talking to other schools about bringing them a Lori’s Hands chapter, Lori’s Hands has been doing big things.

However, a sneak peak into the next few weeks is looking even better than what’s already going on: On March 21st, Liz and I head off to Arizona to attend the Clinton Global Initiative UniversityConference. The conference is held at Arizona State, beginning Friday and ending Sunday. We will be participating in all things awesome, such as listening to amazing guest speakers, soon to be announced. Last year, the conference featured President Obama, Stephen Colbert, and Jada Pinkett Smith, just to name a few. Liz and I plan on telling Bill and Chelsea Clinton all about Lori’s Hands (and maybe snapping a few selfies while we are at it). Aside from networking with some of the most amazing students in the world and getting advice from some of the most fantastic people, our weekend ends with a service project! We will spend Sunday working beside the Clintons and fellow CGIU participants… should be awesome.

While Liz and I are in Arizona, everyone else will be participating in Mom Prom! Mom Prom takes place on March 21st and it is an event hosted by The Real Charitable Housewives of Delaware and East Pennsylvania. It is a night of dancing, dressing up, raffles, drinks, food and fun. The money from this year’s Mom Prom is benefiting our own Lori’s Hands and the amazing, local B+ Foundation! We are so excited and so thankful the RCHD has decided to include us.

As for the month of April, our founder, Sarah, will be heading to Chicago! She was invited to attend the Community Campus Partnerships for Health Conference where she will be making sure everyone is aware of Lori’s Hands!

If you haven’t already seen our latest video, please make sure to check it out here. Share it with the whole world! We can’t wait to update you all about how the aforementioned events turn out. Make sure to keep up with our Facebook and Twitter for live updates!

nce again, this is just the beginning. We hope you take a ride on this amazing journey with us. Get involved! 

Written by: Alexa Rivadeneira

A Quick Post for the Holidays

As I hugged Edna in the foyer of her home, I peered over her shoulder and noticed the Lori’s Hands ornament hanging behind her. Their home was in full effect, wonderfully decorated for the holiday season. When I commented on how nice the decorations looked, Edna, in truest fashion, credited all the work to Lori’s Hands. The past Monday was our annual Holiday Decorating Day, when a handful of volunteers visit each of our clients who need help putting up decorations for the month of December. While I am sure Edna helped with decorating, I traded my usual response of, “Oh, it was nothing,” with “You are so welcome.” 

Unfortunately, I hadn’t been able to visit Edna and Warren during their routine Friday timeslot in about a month and a half between the hectic-ness of school, work and scheduling for another client. However, visiting them one last time before Delaware’s unnecessarily extensive winter break was well above “Study for Nutrition Final” on my To-Do list. I gave them a call to ask them if I, along with 3 other members, could come for a visit that following morning. Not to grocery shop, but simply to enjoy each other’s company. As you probably guessed, Edna was completely elated, and when I walked in their home the next day I was as equally happy seeing Edna don her red holiday sweater and noticing Warren looking better than I had seen him ever before.

This spontaneous visit turned out to be my favorite yet, and let me tell you exactly why. I learned something brilliant just in time for the holiday season. The simplest gifts are the greatest gifts. While I did know this already, I experienced it truly first hand during my visit to this lovable couple. The pure joy on both Edna’s and Warren’s faces when I remembered Warren’s birthday in just a few days? Something I’ll never forget. The most genuine excitement in Edna’s voice when I told her I’d love to stop by the following morning? A voice that will remain in me forever. And lastly, the homemade cookies partnered with an LED flashlight with 3 batteries taped to the package? Maybe the most thoughtful gift I will receive this holiday season. 

Remember that the little things are the big things. Happy Holidays from all of us here at Lori’s Hands.

Written By: Sydney Scheiner

Sydney (R) with Edna (L)

Sydney (R) with Edna (L)

Meet Lisa Centrone: Our 2013-2014 Co-President

If you had asked me four Augusts ago what I would be doing in August 2013, the summer before my senior year of college, writing this blog post and planning Lori’s Hands events for the fall semester would not have even crossed my mind.  However, reminiscing on the past three years of my college career, I could not imagine doing anything else.

When I went to Activities Night on the green with my new friends from my Harrington E floor, I must admit that I was overwhelmed with the tremendous amount of groups and clubs that the University of Delaware had to offer.  Where was I going to fit in?  An eager nursing major, I was looking for anything that was relevant to the medical field to “boost my résumé”.  In my pursuit through the massive crowds and tables, I stumbled upon Sarah and friends from Lori’s Hands.  I was told that this group was founded by a group of people, several nursing students, who enjoyed helping and working with others.  I had volunteered throughout high school, never with the elderly, but thought I should give it a shot!

Little did I know, it was one of the best decisions I made my freshman year of college.  My first volunteer experience was with Kelsey, helping clean a wheelchair bound woman’s house, and I was hooked ever since.  Although it was out of my comfort zone going to a stranger’s house with a girl that I have never met, it just felt right and I knew that there was something special about this group.  I saw how happy it made this client, and I knew it was definitely something worth pursuing.

I continued to volunteer when I could, and eventually became a scheduler for a client.  It was nice to be able to develop a relationship with one person and watch how they opened up more and more as visits progressed.  When the opportunity came to become the President of External Affairs for the group, I was extremely excited to take it! Still a freshman, the thought of running an organization the following semester was scary.  However, having my Co-President, Alexa, to run the group with has been a huge blessing.  Together, we have been able to help the organization grow on campus and make it sustainable. My hope for Lori’s Hands is that it can continue to thrive on campus, and become not just a “résumé booster,” but as much of a saving grace for future students as it has been for me.

The Lori's Hands Co-Presidents Lisa (L) and Alexa (R)

The Lori's Hands Co-Presidents Lisa (L) and Alexa (R)

George and June

The decorations had been piling up in our apartment for over a week, and it was finally time to load them into my car and head over to George and June’s.  It was chilly but not quite cold: the perfect weather for my brand new green Lori’s Hands hoodie.  I had helped decorate at another client’s home that morning and would see a few more later in the day, but it was George and June’s I was most excited to see lit up for Christmas.

I had started scheduling for the couple that August.  June suffered from lupus and was confined to a wheelchair while George walked only with the assistance of a walker.  June loved to sit out on the front porch on sunny days, but just getting her out there was a painstaking process that required George letting go of his walker for anxious moments at a time.  The couple’s children lived on the other side of the country, and they had never even met some of the grandchildren whose pictures hung on their refrigerator.

Every Friday morning I would go with another volunteer to pick up groceries, pull weeds, and mop.  With each new volunteer, I would always explain a little bit about George and June: their needs, their medical conditions, and most of all their quirks.  If June was sitting on the front porch in nothing but a t-shirt and Depends, it wasn’t because she forgot pants–it was because she didn’t care. But if George called you something other than your name, it wasn’t because he didn’t care–it was because he couldn’t hear (it took months of weekly visits before he realized my name wasn’t Louise). If either one of the two referred to something we needed (a garden trowel or a stepladder) being in the “building,” that meant the shed out back.  To this day I don’t know if that was a case of regionalism or of two people living alone for so long that they’d made up their own vocabulary.

I had just finished going over all of this when we pulled up to their house that December afternoon and began unloading wreaths, poinsettias, and strings of lights.  It was too cold outside for June, particularly in her standard porch attire, so the two were inside watching TV Land.

Soon after we arrived, we got to work.  We placed the festive flowers around the house, hung the wreath from the front door, and wrapped string after string of colored lights, June’s favorite, around everything we could.  After finagling a complex rig of lights, extension cords, and timers, all that was left was to plug it all in and light up the house.  One of the new volunteers did the honors, plugging the end of the last extension cord into the outlet on the side of the house–and nothing happened.

Every year, volunteers decorate ornaments, stockings, and other holiday decorations for our clients.June had been watching out the window, and I could feel her disappointment from outside the house.  I was sure we’d figure out a way to make the lights work, but June was already convinced otherwise.  In her best impression of Eeyore, she said over and over, “You can keep trying, but it’s just not going to work.”  Her determined pessimism fueled our mission to make their house the brightest on the block.

We switched out the extension cords, swapped out strings of lights, and tried a different outlet.  We tested individual bulbs in search of a faulty culprit.  Nothing worked.  Growing desperate, I conferenced with George in the corner of the living room.  What hadn’t we thought to try?  As a last resort, George suggested I reset the power.  I found the breaker box, flipped the reset switch, crossed my fingers and closed my eyes.  When I opened them, every string of lights had lit up.

Inside the house, I could hear June saying, “I’m so happy!”  I went back inside to see that she had lit up too, from her knobby knees to the ends of her perfectly coiffed hair.  It was the first Christmas their house had been decorated in years, and as it happened, it would be June’s last.

I’m not even embarrassed to admit that I spent that evening watching It’s a Wonderful Life and weeping.  It was on that wonderful day that I knew my time with Lori’s Hands would not end with my graduation.  I love this organization and everything it can do for clients as well as volunteers.  My dream is to see Lori’s Hands grow and spread, becoming an essential, ingrained, and beloved part of the campus communities it reaches.  I admit that there have been times when I’ve felt like June–convinced that no matter how hard we try, it’s just not going to work.  But usually, all it takes is a little rearranging, the flip of a switch, and crossed fingers to make everything work just the way it should.

In memory of “June,” 1936 – 2011

Written by: Liz Bonomo

Tuesdays with Alice

I scheduled for Alice Heinz. I also ordered t-shirts, deposited member dues and donation checks, planted flowers, gave rides to volunteers, and once stayed up until the wee hours with two of my best friends (and co-founders) painstakingly co-writing and laboriously re-hashing, word by word, the Lori’s Hands story that would appear on the back of the first ever Lori’s Hands mug. But mostly, I scheduled for Alice.

Nearly every Tuesday for two years, I would drive half an hour away and leave campus behind to dive into the satisfying, tangible joy of uncluttering whichever room the Heinz family needed uncluttered. That is not to trivialize the Heinz family’s worries down to mere clutter — Alice has limited mobility as a result of an accident and chronic diabetes; Kathy, Alice’s daughter who lives with her, suffers from MS; and Sue, another of Alice’s daughters, shoulders the burden of being the primary caregiver for both Kathy and Alice. There are a million things Lori’s Hands volunteers could have done from week to week, but clearing out rooms was important to the family: clearing space kept the home both accessible enough for Alice’s walker and Kathy’s wheelchair and livable enough to prevent Alice from moving into a nursing home and out of her own home. So unclutter we did. It was daunting at times — the piles of mail towering feet above desks, the buckets of embroidery floss left tangled for years, the shoeboxes full of questionably old craft glue and other mysterious amorphous solids — but if you know me, you know that sorting, untangling, and demystifying such a mess falls neatly in my wheelhouse. Brandishing a trash bag and label maker, I dove in each week with gusto.

But we all know this isn’t about how rewarding it is to win weekly victories over entropy. Visiting Alice was great because of Alice and the Heinz family. As I sorted through her craft room, Alice filled up the minutes with stories about the heirloom lace patterns and the delicate art of doll-hat-making. I saw her old sketches and her quick watercolors and envied her apt hand and eye for beauty. While cleaning the office, I pulled out long-buried travel guides for Italian cities and heard all about Sue’s adventures there from a trip she took when she was not much older than I am. Kathy grilled me on my romantic prospects while she trounced me in Scrabble. Bit by bit, the Heinz women and I let ourselves into each other’s lives. The impressions they have left on mine are indelible and lovely.

i also want to talk about the times when it didn’t look lovely. When Kathy snapped at Sue because she needed help using the restroom and Sue snapped back because she was simultaneously trying to fix her mother’s lunch and orient new volunteers and it was all too much. When Alice’s voice trembled with hurt and betrayal and loss upon suspecting that Sue had thrown out some craft supplies without Alice’s permission. When Kathy shouted at my silhouette in the doorway, “I’m not retarded!” as I walked into their home the first day I met their family. When Sue asked me about a leftover bar stamp on the back of my hand and I couldn’t think of a lie or gracefully deliver the (tame) truth, so instead I fumbled an answer and simmered in my nerves and possibly her judgement for the rest of the visit. If the lovely scenes made us people to each other, it was these scenes that made us real people.

But what I remember even better than the big stuff is all the medium stuff, the texture of it. How Alice liked pear juice best of all the juices that came with Meals on Wheels lunches. How Kathy kept a stockpile of raspberry-flavored Dasani water on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator because it was easiest to access there. How Sue’s hands were always beautifully french-manicured, and how I liked hoping that those minutes of soaking fingers in soapy water were hers alone. How I made myself a better listener than I really am for them. How at first, and even a bit at the end, I answered their questions with squeaky-clean Miss America answers to make them think better of me. How they were all on their best hostess behavior too when Lori’s Hands volunteers would come over.  How I learned about all of their many family members not by meeting them but rather by hearing about them from three distinct views and braiding those views together. How Kathy and Alice watched Days of Our Lives together every afternoon. How the tupperware drawers were always a little too full.

I volunteered with Lori’s Hands at a time in my life when 95% of the people I saw every day were under the age of 23 and the question most persistently and selfishly throbbing in the back of my mind was “What do you want to do with your life?”. I’m not sure I could have said with confidence what that question meant or if I had seen enough to know what a life was. My attempts to answer the question ranged from the practical (a business-oriented major with a color-by-number career path) to the profound (courses in world religions and Eastern philosophy), but in retrospect it is my visits with the Heinz family that have offered the most value.  These visits have shaped my life in ways that are lovely, real, and subtle, and they proved to me at least one great way that life can be: intersections of some strangers, over time, through endearment or habituation or accident, letting their humanity peek through.

*Names have been changed

Written by: Jennifer McCord

Jennifer (furthest R) and fellow Lori's Hands volunteers in 2011

Jennifer (furthest R) and fellow Lori's Hands volunteers in 2011

Why Our Clients Need Their Lori's Hands Family

I’m on hold, again. After a few minutes, the receptionist cuts through the elevator music and says, “Janet is still on the other line. Would you like her voicemail?”
“I’ve actually left her three voicemails this week and haven’t heard back yet so I’d like to hold for her.”

Eventually, a flustered-sounding Janet picks up the phone, apologizes for the delay in getting back to me and asks, “You’re a friend of Miss Helen* in room 226?”
I explain that, yes, I’m a friend of Helen’s and that I have a few concerns. I tell her that I started volunteering with Helen through Lori’s Hands three years ago and have stayed in touch with her since graduating. I tell her that I’ve been stopping in occasionally over the last month since Helen fell, broke her arm, and ended up in a rehab facility. On my most recent visit, I found her to be unhappy, uncomfortable, and confused about her care plan.”

“Oh… well now… I was told that Miss Helen would be moving into our Assisted Living Facility when she was discharged.”

“That’s one of my concerns. Helen has been very adamant that she’d like to go home, but she’s been told that’s not an option.”

“Well it’s always a consideration and I certainly want to make every effort if that’s what the patient wants, but I have a note here from the admissions folks stating that Helen’s sister-in-law set her up to go right into Assisted Living.”

“That’s one of the problems,” I explain. “Helen’s sister-in-law means well but she lives halfway across the country and isn’t very involved in Helen’s care. Besides, Helen is competent to make her own decisions. Any conversation that important should have been with Helen herself.”

“Oh, well you know that Helen is coming down with some dementia, right? I think that’s why folks are talking to her Power of Attorney instead of her.”
“I was just in to see her yesterday and she was perfectly fine. She is extremely hard of hearing and that can sometimes be misconstrued as confusion, but Helen is very bright and competent. She has no memory issues.”

“Oh but I’m reading in her chart here that on June 22nd, there was an episode with a nurse…” I hear Janet flipping through pages and then she says, “Helen stated ‘I don’t even know why I’m here! And I don’t know why I keep getting shifted around!’”
“I was there visiting when that conversation took place: Helen was upset because she’d been moved rooms on the floor four times that day and didn’t feel like she was getting any explanations. She had requested pain medication twice before I arrived and didn’t get it until I went up to the desk and asked for it. She couldn’t get an answer on how long she’d be staying in rehab, or what needed to be accomplished before discharge, until I went and got a nurse to come in and talk to her. So yes she was confused – but I would have been too.”

“Oh wow that is a totally different story than what’s written here. Now it also says that she changed her code status three times in one conversation. Do you know anything about that?”

“I sure do,” I say, “and Helen could tell you about it too, if you asked her. Someone came in and asked her to sign a piece of paper. The person said ‘This will determine your code status,’ and Helen couldn’t hear what she said and just nodded. One of our Lori’s Hands volunteers who knows Helen well was in the room visiting her at the time and moved in front of Helen because she hears better when someone is in front of her, and explained what the person had said. Helen said ‘oh yes I want that’ and the person checked the DNR box. Our volunteer said he didn’t think the conversation had been thorough enough and asked the person to explain what DNR meant. The person then went into more detail, which our volunteer also had to repeat in a loud voice so Helen could hear, and Helen then said, ‘Oh I thought you meant do I want CPR – I do! I want everything! I don’t want to be a DNR!’ so the person changed the form back again. Helen never changed her mind, she just couldn’t hear the person because she was standing to the side and talking in a quiet voice.”

“I’ll make a note of that in her chart. I’m really glad you called. It sounds like we do need to meet to clear some things up. It’s really important that someone who knows the client can be there to have conversations like this with me, because sometimes our staff doesn’t have time to get to know every patient really well and really figure out what’s going on. And, to be honest, our Admissions department just want to get everyone to buy into the facility, so they were probably thrilled to talk to the sister-in-law instead of Helen, who wants to go back to her own apartment. Let’s schedule a time for me to talk to Helen, and hopefully you can be there to make sure she’s getting it all.”

Every week for the last 3 years, Helen, a homebound older adult with cardiac issues, has given her grocery list over the phone to a Lori’s Hands volunteer. Later in the week, the volunteer comes by and drops off the groceries, and visits with Helen for about an hour. The tangible benefits of our volunteer services are clear in this relationship: Helen, who would otherwise have no consistent means for getting groceries, depends on Lori’s Hands to fill this void. I believe that Helen’s friendships with our volunteers, though, are as important benefits of the organization as the practical concerns that we assist with.

Our friendships were put to a dramatic test in the weeks after she fell, but we eventually resolved the issues with the nursing home and made sure that Helen’s needs were taken care of. She’s now working the facility to make plans to go home and they have a much better understanding of how to best work with and serve her, especially by accommodating her hearing loss.

Because of Lori’s Hands, our clients don’t slip through the cracks in the healthcare system, just as they wouldn’t if they had a big, caring family. And we, as volunteers, learn skills along the way that we’ll use the rest of our lives.
We don’t have to be experts in aging or medicine to fill the voids we fill. We just have to be there, listen, pay attention, and care. And those are things that Lori’s Hands volunteers are great at!

*Name has been changed

Written by: Sarah LaFave

Sarah is the Founder of Lori's Hands

Sarah is the Founder of Lori's Hands

Meet Alexa Rivadeneira: Our 2013-2014 ​Co-President

The most common question that I am asked from my fellow peers, friends, professors and family members is simple but one that I cannot put into such few words. They ask me with a blank stare, “So what is Lori’s Hands? What do you do?” I usually respond with, “Oh you know, we hang out with some old people,” and then break out into a laugh before I proceed. It is then that I give everyone the run down that Lori’s Hands is a service organization that serves chronically ill elders in the community. And then I give them detail after detail until I think I have given them a sufficient glimpse into what it is we do. I know my words will never be enough and it is something that you have to experience yourself.

Why old people? I think it is a common misconception that all of us Lori’s Hands members have adored the elderly since birth. I think other people that listen to what the organization does, think we have taken on a strong passion for nursing homes, illnesses and plain and simple, old people. However, that is very wrong for the most of us. Although I absolutely adore and take care of all of my grandparents and have always respected the elderly, I had never previously volunteered for any organizations pertaining to that subject area. But when I got an e-mail giving out the meeting time, as a freshman I was open to trying out everything. I went to the first meeting and really liked the people but I still wasn’t completely hooked. I thought, “How am I going to clean someone else’s house when I can barely manage to keep my dorm room neat and organized?”

But being a lost freshman, it seemed worth a shot. It’s funny because I don’t even remember signing up for Lori’s Hands at the Activities Fair or remember how I managed to make it to that first meeting in Gore. I’m not sure by what act of fate I wound up there, eager to try something new, but I know for sure that an act of fate it was.

I’ll always remember my first visit. Sarah had sent an e-mail out asking if anyone was comfortable with working Blackberrys. Being a big fan of all types of electronics, I thought it would be a good way to start my Lori’s Hands experience. The client that needed help was Sandy. Sandy had several strokes so she is confined to a wheel chair and has trouble formulating her thoughts. She needed help setting up her new Blackberry and after my first visit with her she named me the technology guru. Every problem with technology she had, she thought I would be the answer to. There were plenty of times where I couldn’t even fix what she was talking about but she still managed to think that I was some type of angel that straightened it all out for her. Sandy became a family figure to me throughout my extremely long freshman year. When I was homesick, going to her house was a reminder that there was life outside of the campus and I’d be reunited with my family soon. I’ll always remember in the spring, we set up her house with decorations for her daughter’s baby shower. While volunteering, I became very light headed and had to sit down outside. Sandy made sure to check on me every few minutes and ended up calling me hours after I had left her house to see how I was feeling. It was then that I felt how strong the Lori’s Hands community really was. Sandy and I formed a friendship much larger than just a volunteer to client relationship. I became someone who she could confide in and someone she knew would get the job done whenever needed. And for me, Sandy became a woman who I knew cared for me in Newark, Delaware- a faraway place from my home.

After my life-changing year volunteering for Lori’s Hands, I applied for President of Internal Affairs. I have been in that position since my sophomore year (now entering my senior year) and it has been one that has changed me for the better. I started scheduling for Edna and Warren, a couple visited weekly. Warren has two types of cancer amongst many other things and he is completely homebound. Because of that, Edna is as well. We do their grocery shopping for them and then always sit and chat. They have also become like a second family to me. There are many days where sitting on their couch and talking to them have made my day that much better. They are so appreciative of what we do for them and they always make sure to let all of the volunteers know.

I can go on and on with stories about our clients and how not only do our volunteers make a difference in their lives, but how they make a difference in ours as well. But it is still something that I believe you can hear about and read about but you don’t fully feel the effects until you are out there volunteering. The love and passion that the volunteers gain come from within. When we say we volunteer for chronically ill elders, we understand that it doesn’t sound too enticing. However, I know that I can speak for everyone that it is one of the most rewarding experiences. Like I said, it wasn’t like all of the volunteers had this passion for old people from the start, but once you volunteer it’s something that happens.

I am so fortunate to have gotten involved in Lori’s Hands and to have formed all of the friendships with the volunteers, clients and founders who are doing everything to keep Lori’s Hands flourishing within the UD community. We have now received non-profit status, successfully completed the first semester of HLTH 267 (the Lori’s Hands service learning class), won a local and national award and have been getting great publicity, attracting more and more members. It saddens me that come the fall, my time being President and being able to volunteer frequently with all of our clients will be coming to a close, but I believe this is just the beginning for Lori’s Hands. I know for certain when my time ends at UD, my time will not end with Lori’s Hands. I plan to be just as actively involved working towards the future of this amazing organization.

Written by: Alexa Rivadeneira

Alexa (L) with Lisa and their LH clients

Alexa (L) with Lisa and their LH clients

Welcome to Lori's Hands!

It was a mere two weeks into my freshman year of college. I was still feeling unbalanced and not quite a part of anything yet, but I was determined to find something to dedicate my time to. A lady at an Activities Fair suggested I check out a service group on campus called Lori’s Hands. She said the club was founded by a former UD student, which impressed me greatly because starting a service organization is on my personal bucket list. I emailed the president (my now good friend, Lisa) and asked how I could get started. What she told me was very simple: “We aid people who have been diagnosed with chronic illnesses. We do yard work, grocery shopping, hands on things they are now unable to do because of their illness. We like people to volunteer at least three times a semester.” I thought, “Perfect, not too time consuming but still productive.”

I just recently completed my freshman year of college and can tell you my education and life has been so positively changed because of this amazing service organization a lady told me about called Lori’s Hands. I expected to spend a few hours a semester volunteering my time with elders and in return gain minimal self-pride in knowing that at least I had done something other than school work or hang out with my friends that year. But instead, Lori’s Hands gave me more than I ever thought possible, and I am only one-fourth of the way done with my college career. Just in the last few months, I made incredible friends (of all ages), gained leadership experience (as the club’s Fundraising Chair), shared laughs at clients’ homes (Edna and Warren are a hilarious couple), and even landed an awesome internship with our organization (we’re now officially a non-profit!). The people I’ve been privileged to meet have shared life stories with us and I’ve reciprocated with sharing mine. The interactions that take place between our volunteers and clients are genuine and light-hearted, and benefit everyone involved.

Lori’s Hands attracts many nursing majors due to the fact that we work with medically ill elders, but people with a variety of educational backgrounds make up our organization. I’m a Communications major/Advertising minor and visiting and interacting with our clients has improved my interpersonal skills I will use in a future career as well as in life in general. Anybody can and will benefit from being a Lori’s Hands volunteer. If you’re a UD student, come check out for yourself what this remarkable organization can offer to you and what you can offer to us. We’re always welcoming new members (and now students!) who are energetic and willing to make a difference in the lives of chronically ill elders. Soon I hope to be encouraging students at other colleges and universities to become part of the Lori’s Hands family. Big things are in store for the future of this organization, and I encourage everyone to come along for the journey. If you are interested in seeing more what Lori’s Hands is about, don’t hesitate to visit our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter (@LorisHands).

“We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.” – Dr. Loretta Scott

Sydney (second from L) and fellow officers accept their Jefferson Youth Challenge Award for Public Service

Sydney (second from L) and fellow officers accept their Jefferson Youth Challenge Award for Public Service