“It really and truly was the best week.”
Adrianne Doyle (left) had always had a special relationship with her Uncle Bert. To her, he was the best kind of teacher — intelligent, articulate, but with a fun side too. “He was one of the smartest people I had ever known,” says Adrianne.
After he passed away, Adrianne knew she had to do something to honor him. Volunteering in Iona’s Wellness & Arts Center, where he was a participant for about two and a half years, seemed like the perfect way.
“When Uncle Bert got sick, he was a different person — which was hard for us,” says Adrianne. “But, once he started going to Iona, it stimulated him so much that we were able to have a little bit of him for a lot longer than we expected. The interactions with the staff and with his peers, the art, the music, the dog visits — all of that kept him going.”
So as a way to show her gratitude, Adrianne traveled from North Carolina to share her time with participants and staff members for a full week. The experience, says Adrianne, was inspiring. From oneon-one talks to vibrant dance parties, Adrianne jumped head first into our robust daily programming. “By the end of my first day, I was sweaty and exhausted,” she says. “But, I loved it.”
Interestingly, as a certified nursing assistant by profession, Adrianne knows many of the challenges facing older adults and their family caregivers firsthand. But it wasn’t until visiting our Center that she realized how valuable adult day services could be — for both participants and their family members.
“Iona just takes the caregiving weight off,” she says. “It provides all of the structure and stimulation that family members don’t think about doing or maybe can’t do because they’re tired or sad. I’ve never seen a place like Iona. I don’t know why there aren’t a million of them.”
Since saying goodbye and heading back to North Carolina, Iona’s Wellness & Arts Center has nonetheless remained in Adrianne’s mind. In fact, because of her volunteer experience, Adrianne has started nursing school! And, of course, though she’s now back home, Adrianne knows it is not goodbye forever: “When I left, I promised there will not be another time I come to DC and don’t say hi. I will certainly, certainly volunteer again.”