What does it mean to be a Good Neighbor? Just ask our Volunteer, Ken Owens.
“There is more to being a neighbor than just living next door to someone,” he says. “Being a neighbor is about building community and being there when others need help. And it’s about becoming friends.”
Ken’s neighborly philosophy is one he truly lives by, and he credits Neighbors Who Care for providing an opportunity to be a good neighbor to so many of our clients.
“Neighbors Who Care makes it so easy to go out and help people who may not have anyone else to do so,” he says. “And, it’s amazing how easy it is to relate to those you are serving. These are people I’ve never met before, but by the third or fourth time that I provide a service for them – like taking them to a doctor’s appointment – we become good friends.”
Ken began volunteering with Neighbors Who Care two years ago, in August of 2021. As a transplant from the Chicago area, he was winding down his professional career as an accountant, but knew he needed to add something to his schedule to stay busy. A friend introduced him to Neighbors Who Care, and from the very beginning, he found his place.
“I get more rewards from volunteering than any of our clients can even imagine,” he explains. “Just their gratefulness puts a smile on my face and warms me for the entire day!”
Ken volunteers, on average, a couple of times a week, mostly providing transportation for our clients to their medical appointments. He says that it is the time spent in the car with clients that he has the most opportunity to get to know them.
“I find that most Neighbors Who Care clients, like me, weren’t born and raised here, so we have that in common,” he says. Adding, “As an accountant, I’m naturally an introvert, and it’s not always easy for me to reach out to people. But when you’re driving someone, you’ve got a 10- to 15-minute car ride to get to ask folks about where they came from and their experiences. It makes those first conversations so easy.” Ken also says that there’s usually not enough time to hear their stories, but “there’s always the next time to pick up where we left off!”
On occasion, he also has the opportunity to provide respite care, which, Ken says, is so valuable for caregivers who just need to get out of the house for a couple of hours.
Ken says, “I know that being a caregiver can be emotional and stressful. But when I come to someone’s home for respite care, I don’t see their exhaustion. What I see are people who are so appreciative for the time they get to go out for a while. Just from their demeanor, I can tell how much it means to them to know that someone is there to keep their loved one safe while they are gone.”
For those considering the idea of being a Good Neighbor, Ken offers this: “Even though you might have a busy life, we all have a little bit of time in any given week to help someone. Whether it’s taking them to a doctor appointment, providing respite care, or whatever, you will discover how personally fulfilling it is to make a difference and to make new friends,” he says. “Honestly, it will exceed your expectations!”
To learn more about volunteering with Neighbors Who Care, visit the volunteer page or contact our office at (480) 895-7133.