Celebrating Cathy

A Featured Volunteer with In-Home Senior Respite in DuPage County

Cathy has been a volunteer with Metropolitan’s In-Home Senior Respite since 2008. Cathy is one of our go-to volunteers who has helped many, many families. View our interview with this special volunteer highlighted during Volunteer Week below. Thank you Cathy!!

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How did you begin volunteering with Metropolitan?
A friend, no longer with respite service, had casually asked me if I had ever considered volunteering for In-Home Senior Respite. First she had to explain what it was, “Three hours of relief each week for the care giver of a senior…”. After giving her request some thought, I contacted her and the ball was rolling. My interview was scheduled, vetting completed, began training and then assigned to a family. In-Home Senior Respite has been one of the most rewarding experiences to me, and I am pleased to be of service.

What do you do as an In-Home Senior Respite Volunteer?
My particular job is to cover for other respite volunteers who may become ill, as you know we do not attend to our clients if we are sick with a cold, flu or other contagious illness, and clients too should cancel appointments if they have such illnesses. My coverage can also take place when a regularly assigned volunteer goes on vacation or is unable (for many reason) to make the regularly scheduled appointment. I am also assigned to a new client until a permanent volunteer is located and suitable to the family to be served.

Why do you volunteer?

  • The sharing of knowledge of days gone by
  • Giving care givers a much needed break
  • Witnessing the joy elders relate to in their daily life
  • Appreciating the foundations laid by those whom I currently serve
  • Observing the devotion and love that our care givers show our senior clients, is most rewarding.

In-Home Senior Respite is a hidden resource within our communities. Our service enables clients to keep loved ones in their home and in familiar surroundings, while they tend to the seniors every need. This leaves little time for the clients own needs, three hours is brief but can offer a much appreciated rest.

How has volunteering impacted you?
I have served fifteen families in Du Page County, in my close to five years of service. Several of these families, (I have found through our conversations) knew many of my Great Aunts and Uncles, the stories my clients share with me are most delightful. They connect me to my very own past.

Our clients backgrounds are from many different belief systems, ethnicities and careers, it is awesome to hear the adventures they have lived through and the struggles of life they look so fondly upon. One can see how our world has changed and developed by the foundations they have laid for us.

Seniors have always been inspiring to me, the vast knowledge they hold and the experiences they lived are a part of history. Having the opportunity to share in their life story is to me a great honor.

It is an honor to serve those who have come before me and I hold them as true treasures. Many of our clients and care givers have become an extension of our very own families. On occasion we lose them and it feels as if we have lost one of our own family members. What they impart is special and most memorable, and I would not want to have missed the opportunity of having met or serving them.

To learn about Metropolitan’s In-Home Senior Respite volunteer opportunities, click here.

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Voice of the People

Today’s Voice of the People section in the Chicago Tribune featured Metropolitan Family Services President and CEO Ric Estrada. To see the original feature click here.

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Voice of the People
March 8, 2013

Early learning
President Barack Obama’s plan to invest in young children is a road-tested strategy that applies resources in ways that have been proven to generate positive returns for children, families, communities and the economy. Expanding the commitment to early childhood also meets critical needs our society cannot afford to ignore. At Metropolitan Family Services, we see both benefits and needs every day in the nearly 900 children we serve with preschool, child-care, home-visiting and Early Head Start/Head Start programs. Our children are ready to learn when they head to school.

The value of early learning has been proven repeatedly by research and decades of practical experience. Nobel scholars like University of Chicago economist James Heckman have long asserted that young children are the smartest investment we can make, pointing to research conducted right here in Chicago that documented returns of $7 for every $1 spent, in the form of better school performance, higher lifetime earnings and decreased costs of behavioral challenges.

If anything is surprising about the president’s proposal it is that early-childhood programs are suddenly considered controversial or speculative.

We hope our elected leaders do not take the bait because every American community is affected. Illinois was once a national early-childhood leader, but it has moved backward since 2009, eliminating services for 22,000 children and creating stress for parents who know what their children need but can’t get.

This challenge exists in every community we serve. We see it in city neighborhoods that desperately need new facilities. We see it in working families in DuPage County who aren’t “poor enough” for Head Start and can’t find affordable child care.

The good news is leaders like Mayor Rahm Emanuel are bucking the trend by finding a way to invest in early education. Law enforcement officials like DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin are making a point to show the connection between early learning and safe communities.

The president has put a thoughtful plan on the table to leverage federal, state and local resources. If we want children to succeed and want our economy to recover, we cannot afford to let this opportunity pass us by.

Ricardo Estrada
President and CEO, Metropolitan Family Services, Chicago

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