**Volunteer blog post written by a dedicated volunteer who cherishes the time she’s spent as a Volunteer Friend to a client for over a decade.
Volunteer Friends at Guild meet with Guild clients to help them feel less isolated. These meetings can take place however often and wherever the volunteer sees fit. During COVID-19, friends have met over the phone, video chat, or socially distanced outside at parks! To learn more about becoming a Guild volunteer, click here.
I have been a Volunteer Friend with Guild since September of 2008; almost twelve years. I retired from a lifetime calling as a teacher in June 2008, and I knew that one volunteer activity that I wanted to participate in was engaging with individuals who have mental health conditions.
I had read about the Guild of Catholic Women who helped individuals with mental illnesses. But by the time I had retired, Guild had been established as a non-profit and the Guild of Catholic Women had begun to phase out.
In September 2008, I befriended a Guild client that I met with until December. In January 2009, the Guild Volunteer Coordinator introduced me to another Guild client, and from that time on, my Guild Friend and I have engaged in a number of adventures, among which are:
- A visit to the University of MN Landscape Arboretum
- Visits to the James J. Hill House in St. Paul
- An evening bus ride to see the Christmas lights displays around St. Paul
- A scenic boat ride on Lake Minnetonka
- The Jesse James Days activities in Northfield, MN
- Plays at the Guthrie
- A Christmas musical at the Ordway
- A Minnesota Opera production at the Ordway
- Christmas choral concerts
- A musical at the History Theater in St. Paul about the Andrews Sisters during World War II
- Many other adventures
- And many, many breakfasts and lunches and suppers at informal restaurants after attending Sunday Mass together
All these adventures have provided interest, fun, enrichment, spiritual fulfillment, and fond memories for both my Guild Friend and me.
However, the undergirding principles which help to make these activities, over so many years, meaningful, are commitment, loving compassion, and abiding friendship. I have been committed to my Guild Friend because my life experience has taught me an understanding of her journey. I call her friend because I have listened to her as she talks about her life and daily activities, her problems and challenges, her successes, her failures, and her moments of joy. I hope she trusts me.
During the pandemic, I am not seeing my Guild Friend, but I talk to her on the phone every day. I made that commitment to talk to her on the phone every day when social distancing was put in place. It makes a difference to her. It makes a difference to me because then I’m in touch with how she is doing.
If a person has a compassionate and loving heart, a life experience which helps him or her to understand mental health issues, a desire to try to make a difference for someone, a desire to make a solid commitment to someone, and a spirit of adventure and fun, then the experience of “Volunteer Friend” will be fun, challenging, often joyous, and always spiritually fulfilling. You might want to try it.
– A Guild Volunteer Friend
To become a Volunteer Friend, email firstname.lastname@example.org to start the process.