I think we need to do everything we can to make life comfortable for our seniors. Hospice care is a great way to do just that.
Bernadine was born and raised in Chicago and has lived there all her life. She is every bit a Chicagoan and enthusiastically supports her city. Bernadine worked for the phone company for 33 years before retiring and taking on another full-time job volunteering. She has three children and four grandchildren. Her sister Annette will join her on the cruise. Bernadine also attended Soma Massage School before retiring and is working to become a massage therapist for seniors.
Although Bernadine has been volunteering all her life, working with Chicago Cares has become her passion since retiring about five years ago. She does everything. Bernadine runs four separate projects each month – Fresh Market, Lake Park Seniors' Diner, Lincoln Perry Seniors' Diner, and Rise and Shine. At the Fresh Market, Bernadine helps seniors in the community shop for fresh fruits and vegetables and canned goods, and it's all free. For the other three events, Bernadine plans a meal for the seniors once a month. She designs the menu, buys the foods, and manages the volunteers for two seniors' buildings and one women's shelter. All this takes a lot of time and effort, but it's only part of what she does.
As a rule, Bernadine also participates in several other activities with Chicago Cares each month. She is active with the Youth in Services programs, which connects seniors with the youth of the city. Bernadine and the kids sometimes hold "casino night" and prepare the seniors' facility like a casino. They play bingo and board games and give the seniors a special treat. The goal is to bring the seniors out of isolation and help develop a relationship between them and the local youth. "When my children were growing up, we didn't have any seniors in our life," says Bernadine. "I would bring my kids with me, and this was joyful for the seniors and a great experience for my kids."
Bernadine is also a hospice volunteer. She sits with her patient as the end approaches, makes her patient as comfortable as possible, and comforts the family. Says Bernadine: "This is a great solace for the family, and it makes the final days comfortable and pleasant for the patient."