[Sharing a message from Christine Szymaszek, GRACE Friends & Family Program Coordinator. Friends & Family serves an aging population in north Texas. Christine works with seniors to protect and improve their financial independence, reduce their isolation, and strengthen their food and medication security. She provides case management and transportation, and helps improve home conditions, maintenance, and safety.]

Good afternoon All,

I just wanted to share with you the beautiful experiences I had this afternoon.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, we have had to cease doing face-to-face visits with our Friends & Family clients–probably the ones who need it most. Still, I do my best to keep an eye on them by driving by their homes and through their neighborhoods several times a week, at different times of the day.

Today, I went by the __________ Apartments. As I drove around, I spied one of my ladies, 90-year-old “Miss Ruth.”

The last time I saw Miss Ruth, she was at Baylor in the ER, having debilitating back pain. I must confess, she was quite amusing once the muscle relaxers kicked in.

I parked and went over–wearing a mask and stopping more than 6 feet away.  Once I pulled my mask down for a brief moment her face lit up and I received a very cheerful, “Christine! How are you?!”

As we chatted, her daughter, who was visiting (also a Friends & Family member), came out to say “hello”. We made plans to meet again—outdoors, socially distanced, masked up—so we could take care of her health insurance questions and applications.

Shortly after, another Friends & Family member stepped out to say “hi”.  As that visit ended, another began! What a joyous time it was for me!

Please know that one of the best parts of my job is the visiting face-to-face with these wonderful people. This afternoon helped to refill my spirit. I miss them greatly.

But wait, there is more. . . . As I was walking to my car, I heard a little voice call my name. This time it was “Miss Karen”.

Lady in a mask goodShe joined our Friends & Family family in 2015.  As I walked toward her she whispered, “Come here, and don’t fuss for what I am about to do.”

Next thing you know, she was handing me a $100 bill. I sputtered that I could not accept her money–but she insisted.

“Please, take this as a donation to GRACE, to thank you all for taking such good care of us seniors,” she said.

She was very adamant that I take her gift. She had been saving it from her stimulus check just for this moment. She had wanted to thank us in some way for a long time.

My heart filled with love and I was humbled.

Guys, there is not a whole lot I would not do for my seniors. Moments like that one makes me want to do even more! Thank you for the opportunity to serve them every day. I have the BEST job!!!!

With gratitude and appreciation! Christine