For being 93 Bea is very active. Until COVID-19 shut everything down she was teaching a course in memoir writing for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Yavapai College. But like many aging adults, her vision is failing and she has given up driving.
Bea was born in Buffalo NY, married in 1948 and lived most of her adult life in the Midwest where she raised five children. One of her sons moved to Sedona when he was in his 20s. Once her husband retired the couple travelled around the country with a camping trailer. Their travels brought them to Sedona to visit their son and they fell in love with the area.
After her husband passed away, Bea began spending winters in Sedona and summers in Ohio with one of her daughters. When the pandemic struck, Bea was in Sedona and decided to stay. She had already purchased a house for winters to save on the cost of renting.
Bea wrote a book about how life was in her younger days for the benefit of her children and grandchildren. She put the book on Amazon so that it would be easy for her to buy to give to family members. To her surprise others began buying it. That experience morphed into her class on writing family history. She currently has two books that she is working on.
When Bea stopped driving, she wondered how she would get around in rural Arizona. One of her neighbors told her about VVCC. She also uses the public transit service. Bea praises both services but can’t say enough positive about VVCC service. One trip in particular made an impression. A VVCC driver took her to Prescott for dermatology. She was expecting the process to take two hours – it took four! She was very impressed that her driver was willing to wait for her. “He was wonderful!” she exclaimed.
Bea is not using VVCC transportation so much now because she has a personal caregiver that visits three times a week and will take her to appointments and shopping. But she still believes VVCC to be an outstanding service. “When you can’t drive, you can’t just decide to run out to the store or something. Everything needs to be planned ahead.”
Neighbor, Bea 93
Tony Isolda, learned about VVCC respite care when his wife was very ill. She got so much out of the visits that when she passed away, he decided he would like to give the gift of respite to others. In 2016 he volunteered with VVCC as a respite care giver.
When he goes to meet with a neighbor, he often brings some kind of treat. He said, “They’re lonely and want to talk.” One person he cares for, Donald, is 95. When Tony visits Donald they play games, read and have an enjoyable time. It gives Tony a good feeling about how his visits lift other’s spirits. From experience Tony says, “Those visits are better than a million bucks to a neighbor.”
To volunteer call (928) 204-1238 or email the Verde Valley Caregivers at email@example.com. Tony is willing to talk to anyone who is interested in volunteering to answer questions about what it is like.
Tony Isolda with painting by his wife in the background.
A year after arriving in Sedona, Willow took a job managing a senior housing complex that, 16 years later, is still her home. She first learned of Verde Valley Caregivers from volunteers who lived in her complex. She was so impressed that she promoted VVCC services in the newsletter she wrote for the residents.
Last year she became very ill and could no longer drive. Not wanting to impose too much on her friends who were willing to drive her, she became a Neighbor, herself. During her illness she needed transportation to Cottonwood two or three times a week and a couple of times to Phoenix. The transportation was “wonderful”. They arrived on time in a nice car, “not full of junk” and they are very interesting people.
The mobility vehicle awarded to VVCC in 2017 makes it so much easier for individuals like Willow who get around most comfortably in a wheelchair or scooter. When the van arrives, she can drive out to meet them and drive right into the vehicle. In addition to transportation, Willow is considering having VVCC help with grocery shopping.
When asked about the difference VVCC makes in her daily life, she explained she is able to receive long-term care in her home. “Caregivers makes that possible.”
More than just a transportation service, VVCC reaches out with phone calls, volunteer visits and opportunities to enrich neighbors' lives. Using one of the tickets donated to VVCC by Chamber Music Sedona, Willow went to the Shepherd on the Rock Concert. This was not something she would ordinarily do, but it was a “wonderful experience”.
Although it is difficult to get around, Willow is interested in using the experience she has had with raising dogs (she even judged dog shows) to help others learn how to properly care for their four-footed friends. OLLI brought a class to the community room of Willow’s residence so that she could present to them. She is eager to keep active and contribute to the community.