Together, for the Journey – Community Stories

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Thank you for helping to ensure that our elder neighbors have the support they need to make it through the best and the most difficult days of their lives.

Caregiving Together

Who would you turn to when you begin to lose your most trusted confidant and best friend to illness, and find yourself facing the most challenging days of your life?  If you’re like the NEST members below, you relish your friendships with neighbors who are walking the same steps as you.

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Estell and Irv

Estell and Irv always knew they wanted to stay together in their home for as long as possible. As Irv’s health declined, they were determined to try to stay together in their home until the end. Estell’s mother passed away when she was 21, so caregiving wasn’t new to her. Still, “when it’s your spouse and you’ve been so close for 57 years…. It is very different. We didn’t know if we could make it to the end. Thankfully, through it all, NEST was there for us and we were able to be together just as we wanted.”

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Rosemary

Rosemary and David were in the midst of living their busy, independent lives, when David’s illness snuck up on them. Rosemary had the support of friends and stepchildren, but having the support of women on the same journey through NEST made all the difference. “I would have been a lot lonelier and more isolated. I would have denied how normal my feelings were.”

Ron & the Men’s Group 

From the very beginning, people wanted a NEST men’s group. Getting the guys together was as much a challenge as it was a good idea. While we had women walking, talking about books, and supporting each other as caregivers almost from day one, our first men’s group came together only after many months of trying. So when NEST Builder and volunteer Ron Hopper stood up at January’s Pancake Breakfast with the idea of forming a second men’s group, I wasn’t sure it would work.

Monday Men's Group

Monday Men’s Group

Now, nine months later, the verdict on NEST’s second men’s group is in. As Ron told me, “We really enjoy each other. There’s 15 years between the youngest and oldest members, but it’s still easy to find subjects that touch us all in some way. Each of us had some sort of leadership role in our careers and now we’re all sorting out this new phase of our journey.”

Ron

Ron

“In our 9 months together we’ve seen some losses. A few of the guys are going through major life changes, and we get to talk about those more and more. It’s encouraging to all of us. I facilitate this group because the extent that we can share our journeys with each other makes our lives more meaningful.”

Janet & Why a Ride Matters

Just weeks before her husband, Frank suddenly needed 24-hour care in an assisted living facility, Janet joined NEST. She told me, “I couldn’t drive my car anymore because of sight problems. I tried using public transportation, but found it too difficult. Discovering NEST and their volunteer drivers was a godsend to me.”

Janet and Frank celebrate Frank's 91st birthday together last year

Janet and Frank celebrate Frank’s 91st birthday together last year

In the past year, NEST services, particularly transportation, have tripled. In October 2015 we coordinated 56 rides; in October of this year we coordinated over 150 rides.

But what’s the best part about NEST’s volunteer transportaion? “Through NEST I’ve met interesting people, both my own peers and younger volunteers. I can get out and enjoy our community and world. Living on my own, especially since my husband’s passing, I have found these friends even more important than rides.”

Why choose NEST?

Marilyn Spotswood, President, NEST Board of Directors

Marilyn Spotswood, President, NEST Board of Directors

As 2016 comes to a close, I’m thinking of all the reasons I support NEST, both as President of the Board of Directors and as a financial donor.  

Why do I choose to give to NEST over other wonderful philanthropic causes in my neighborhood and community? I have two primary reasons. First, I believe in NEST’s vision: To live in a community where no one has to grow older alone. I see you bringing this vision to life when I attend a potluck or a gathering at the Center for Urban Horticulture. I see you talking, sharing stories, enjoying each other’s company. I see you connecting so that we can grow older together. You inspire me and give me so much hope.

The other reason I support NEST is more personal.  

Six years ago when my mom started to show early signs of dementia, she was living alone in the Gulf Coast of Alabama, as far from me as you can imagine. Here I was, in Seattle, working part-time and raising two young children. I could only travel to see her once every couple of months. I wasn’t concerned about her health or safety – we could manage those things from a distance. My concern was that she was losing touch with her friends and neighbors. She was becoming more and more isolated.  

Marilyn and her mom

Marilyn and her mom

All I wanted was a friendly visitor to check in on her, or someone to invite her out to a social gathering. I called local churches and other non-profit organizations, but never found support that was consistent or reliable. I was so frustrated and heartbroken. Without this vital support of community around her, we eventually had to move my mom into a long-term care facility.

I can’t tell you how thankful and relieved I would have been to have a local village – a local NEST – that I could call upon. I know my mom would have loved to connect with friendly neighbors on a regular basis. The ability to pick up the phone and have trustworthy resources at my fingertips would have brought me great peace and made her last years infinitely better.

Thank you for making NEST what it is today and for traveling with me on this journey.

Why NEST’s Small Groups Matter

NEST’s truest power lies in our small member groups. While our volunteers do amazing things every single day, our small groups allow neighbors to dive below the surface together and explore their own deeper truths.

Instead of being alone, filled with loss or regrets, I see members emerge from these small groups with a powerful sense of hope and belonging.

Members Joeve and Debbie must have understood this at some level when they stood up at January’s Pancake Breakfast to propose a new NEST Poetry Group.

“Sharing a poem opens us up to each other in a way other language doesn’t.” Marlene told me at the last Poetry Group meeting, “There’s more intimacy here. You can go deeper with the people.” As Elhri put it, “poetry is the shorthand to the soul.”

Poetry Group meets at the NEST Office

Debbie added, “This group is so rich because of the life experiences at the table. It’s the quality of what people have to say. Learning the reason why we love a certain poem helps us to see and understand each other at a deeper level.”

NEST organizes 15 small groups that serve 80 people each month. For some, a NEST group is the boost they need to get through the day, for others, it is the lifeline that needs to last the whole month.

button_donate-now-1“And it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out into the world it is best to hold hands and stick together.” ~ Robert Fulghum