Kathy has a lifetime passion for helping the aging population.
“I just love doing it. I just love blessing the elderly,” she said.
Caring for those who need extra assistance used to be her job. For many years, Kathy worked at local nursing home facilities and as a home health aide.
She eventually had to retire. The emotional toll was too heavy.
“It got to the point where I was getting depressed because I couldn’t handle the patients crying because their families weren’t visiting,” Kathy said.
Now, as a Heart2Heart volunteer, Kathy and her husband Phil provide that family-like connection directly to seniors battling loneliness.
“It’s been very good for me and good for them,” she said.
In September, Kathy began visiting Janet, an 85-year-old woman living by herself. Janet has an older sister who lives in New York, but no other family since her mother and her husband passed away.
Kathy and Phil take Janet to Publix once a week and help her fill a prescription once a month. They take her out to meals and help her run errands. Sometimes, they speak on the phone if Janet is feeling sad or unwell. Primarily, the Ortegas provide companionship and a listening ear.
“She’s been absolutely wonderful. She’s a pleasure to be with,” Kathy said. “God put us together.”
Janet had been receiving visits from another friend, but he wasn’t able to visit as much recently. That’s when Kathy and Phil stepped in, ready to help Janet feel connected and loved.
“You want to do as much as you can for this person,” Kathy said. “It’s not easy to be in that place.”
Aside from visiting Janet, Kathy also checks in with her own aging neighbors. She makes sure they have the resources they need and companionship, sometimes just for the length of a board game.
Recently, Heart2Heart connected Kathy and Phil to a senior who wanted to attend their church but couldn’t drive there himself. The Ortegas now plan to pick him up and bring him to church, every Sunday.
It’s easier than you might think to be there for someone who is homebound, Kathy explains.
“Just let them know that you love them,” Kathy said. “It’s just so rewarding.”