02/18/07 — Senior caregivers honored at luncheon

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Senior caregivers honored at luncheon

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on February 18, 2007 2:03 AM

Eugene Eloshway was never one to accept help until he discovered he could no longer take care of his wife, Minnie, the way he wanted.

Then he met Senior Companion Lula May McLean, who came to his home from the First Presbyterian Church volunteer station for the WAGES Senior Companions Program.

"This is a wonderful thing. I appreciate the funds that come down for this," he told the crowd gathered to recognize Ms. McLean and the others who volunteer their time and love to clients in Wayne County who most need them. The volunteers and their greatest fans had lunch together recently at the O'Berry Center gym.

He said he and his wife enjoy having Ms. McLean in their lives.

"It is so nice to have someone come into your home and help your relative. She's a wonderful lady, a Christian."

Ms. McLean and the Eloshways have devotions every morning.

"She's here to do more than just help my wife and be a companion for her. I thank her," he said.

Senior Companion Katherine Reid asked herself what was she doing after the first couple of days she volunteered at O'Berry. She had two clients, one verbal and the other not.

"But he knows I'm there," she said about the second client, who shares silent signals to let her know he wishes her a "good morning." When she misses a day and then returns, she said, his eyes say, "Where have you been? I'm so glad you're back."

The apprehension she had felt at first went away soon after she got started at O'Berry, and today, she said, it's like a second home.

"They treat me like family. I'm somebody in the building," she said.

Christine Milller's clients at the Kitty Askin's Hospice Center don't stay long. She learned the hard way to give her heart without becoming attached. She grew very close with one of her first clients.

"We was getting weak. I held her in my arms and told her I was there for her. I came in the next week, and she passed away."

She says her clients at Kitty Aklins are a blessing to her.

"They share with you things they never tell their family. You can smile and tell them you love them. When their family's gone, say, 'Hug me. I care. You have somebody here. You can depend on me.'"

She became a volunteer after her sister died at the hospice center. To watch how her sister was cared for convinced her to help others, she said.

"They were so loving to her," she said of the staff and volunteers at Kitty.

A client served by the WAGES Senior Companions Program, Margaret Sutton, has been wheel-chair bound for seven years. Her husband took care of her until he died in August 2005.

"I live out in the country. I can't walk, can't drive. But the Lord sent Julia (Jackson) to me. I didn't know there was a program like this."

Jackson came to her through the Department of Social Services volunteer station. They met through the hair stylist Ms. Sutton has been going to every Friday for more than 40 years. Ms. Jackson was taking care of the husband of one of the other customers who came into the shop.

She still is his Senior Companion, too.

"It's such a wonderful program," Ms. Sutton said. "I would love to walk again or get in the car and scoot around. But with the help I'm getting, I wish while I could walk I had been a Senior Companion. Julia has shown me so much love."