Originally Published: August 15, 2006 4 a.m.
When witty, 74-year-old Doris Masterson began developing macular degeneration, she had to give up her driver's license.
Masterson worried about making doctor's appointments, going grocery shopping and putting pressure on friends for transportation.
"I had a neighbor that willingly offered to take me shopping every week, and that grew old Š so I called People Who Care," Masterson said.
However, Masterson didn't just get a volunteer to drive her to the grocery store she got a new friend.
"She gets my spirits up," Masterson said about Lori Collison, her volunteer of 10 months from People Who Care. "She's so positive. If I'm feeling blue, I first put on a façade for her and by the time the shopping spree is over, I feel better."
Collison, 45, said Masterson reminds her of her mother. She loves spending time with her "neighbor" the term volunteers use for those they help. Masterson even taught Collison about savvy shopping.
"It's been wonderful," Collison said. "Dede (Masterson) is a delightful person Š I always feel in better spirits when I leave here."
Both women said the pairing has enriched their lives. When they talk about each other, their affection comes across facial expressions and movements. They almost act like mother and daughter.
This is what People Who Care strives for, said Fritzi Mevis, director of the organization. People Who Care, a volunteer-based group, provides transportation for things like grocery shopping and essential appointments to people who can't drive. However, Mevis said the non-profit will also help people with other tasks such as paying bills and writing letters read and visit with people and even provide relief for full-time caregivers.
Jeanette Valdes, 82, is very grateful for her weekly helper, Rosemary Zienter, 56. Valdes referred to her volunteer as "a favorite daughter.
"I just adore Jeanette," she said. "She has such a wonderful attitude and sense of humor and I've learned so much from her."
The two formed a connected friendship, much like Masterson and Collison, throughout the past six months.
"Jeanette introduced me to chocolate covered ginger," Zienter laughed.
Valdes said Zienter helps her with grocery shopping and takes her to medical appointments. They learn from each other and make each other laugh. They even know about the other's family.
Most of all, Valdes said having a close relationship with Zienter gives her a sense of security. If her children aren't in town, she can phone Zienter in an emergency and Zienter said she'd be there, regardless of what she's doing.
Mevis praises the volunteers at People Who Care, saying when they find their match, the result is a wonderful thing.
"(Losing your driver's license) is like losing your sight," Masterson said. "It's very frightening."
This is why she's so grateful for the help Collison provides her. Masterson can be more independent in her shopping, as well as her life.
"Now I don't have to worry when my next half gallon of ice-cream will come," she laughed.
Contact the reporter at email@example.com