Client Spotlight: Shirley

Shirley is a 96-year-old woman who spends most of her time alone with her kitty in her condo she has rented since 1972. These days, she doesn’t leave her home often or get as much social interaction as she once did. She suffers from health challenges that can accompany aging, such as nerve damage, deteriorating vision, and significant hearing loss. About two years ago, she came to Shanti after she learned about our LGBTQ Aging & Abilities Support Network. We first connected her with a staff member who provides warmth and compassion as he helps navigate her care and accompany her to appointments and errands. We also connected her to our Pets Are Wonderful Support program to provide pet food and other resources so she can keep her cat Missa happy and healthy.

To provide additional companionship that helps reduce Shirley’s isolation and loneliness, we matched her with a Shanti Peer Support Volunteer, Ashley. One or two afternoons a week, Ashley visits Shirley in her home to give much needed company and support. Though separated in age by more than half a century, the two have no shortage of fun together. Mostly, they sit and talk and spend a great deal of time laughing. Shirley tells Ashley about her day and stories of her past. Occasionally, they watch the news together, and Shirley loves it when Ashley reads to her—especially poetry by Alice Walker.

“I can’t put into words what having Ashley visit me means,” says Shirley.

Shirley is grateful for the myriad ways Shanti has supported her, reducing her isolation and providing critical resources for her and her beloved kitty companion.

Amrita with Graham and Sweet Pea (dog)

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