When Woodinville resident, Cheryl Swartz first joined Full Life Care as a volunteer with ElderFriends, she and her son visited an older man who was estranged from family – the pair brought fresh baked cookies on their visits, made friendly calls, and stopped by just to chat. After that first visit Cheryl was inspired to do more to bring joy and companionship to isolated elders throughout Seattle and King County.
In 2009, she joined the program’s advisory council and pitched in to help with the annual fundraising event, garnering more than $120,000 in donations since she started. Cheryl became a leader of the social committee, organizing 22 social gatherings, delighting hundreds of ElderFriends participants with her gift for planning and hospitality. Cheryl takes on most of the planning responsibilities; everything from developing a theme to bringing in friends and family members to help at the events. She always strives to create a special atmosphere and is willing to take on any tasks needed to make sure each event is a success.
Her dedication to ElderFriends, inspired Cheryl’s nomination and selection to receive AARP Washington’s Andrus Award for Community Service — the Association’s most prestigious and visible state volunteer award for community service. Cheryl is one of many everyday heroes dedicated to helping others. Her remarkable service has greatly benefited isolated older adults, fostered community connections, and made a significant difference in the lives of others.
In Cheryl’s family volunteerism and giving back to the community is a deep value for her and her husband and they’ve instilled that in their children and infused it throughout their family life. “I volunteer because I love helping people, and the community,” she says “I believe I have always had volunteering in my blood, it is what drives me to be a better person. Every day I try to make a difference for someone.”
ElderFriends is a volunteer-based program that provides companionship, outreach, and advocacy services to isolated older adults throughout Seattle and King County. By facilitating regular friendly visits, they strive to meet the emotional needs of isolated older adults, helping them to live a full life, in their own homes, for as long as possible.