Wilder volunteer Ron Dexter with Ron Dexter with Catherine Engstrom and Mona Walden-Frey of Wilder Caregiver Services.

Caregiver Services Volunteer Ron Dexter: ‘I’m Giving of My Gifts’

If a caregiver wants to talk, Ron Dexter is ready to listen. Ron is a Wilder volunteer who calls people connected with Wilder Caregiver Services to ask how they are doing. These check-in calls help Caregiver Services reach caregivers whose needs have changed, and they can often serve as a morale boost for people who are caring for family members or friends.

Every month, Ron calls from a list of 50-100 people. He notes when the people he calls would benefit from a caregiver consultant so that a professional can reach out to them. “Sometimes, it’s just enough for people to hear from Ron,” says Mona Walden-Frey, former manager of Wilder Caregiver Services. “He’s an incredibly compassionate person who really connects with people.”

Ron says that he can empathize with many of the caregivers he calls. At 78, he and his wife have provided caregiving for family members and friends. He had multiple careers, including human resources for the federal government and in information technology, before retiring in 2005. Throughout his career, he enjoyed solving problems and now uses that skill as a volunteer. “I like connecting with people when I feel I can give them something,” he says.

In addition to calling caregivers, Ron helps lead Powerful Tools for Caregiving classes with Wilder staff. He also volunteers at the Science Museum of Minnesota. For his contributions, Ron was one of four volunteers who received Wilder’s 2018 Sandy Kiernat Community Service Award. Ron says the recognition feels good, but volunteering is its own reward. “I think I’m giving of my gifts, and I need that in my own life,” he says.

In the photo: Ron Dexter (left) with former Wilder staff, Catherine Engstrom and Mona Walden-Frey of Caregiver Services.

With many volunteer activities halted, Wilder volunteer Ron Dexter continues to find comfort in calling caregivers

Update: 2/2/2021

The pandemic halted many of the prolific community volunteer's regular activities, such as in-person tutoring and volunteering at the Science Museum of Minnesota.

Fortunately, Ron is still able to safely to volunteer at the Wilder Community Center for Aging by calling caregivers who are connected with Caregiver Services. Ron says the chance to connect with others is a benefit to him, too. “I feel I get more from it than I actually give,” Ron says. “It’s mutually beneficial.”

Ron says most of the caregivers he talks to have been doing OK, although some found it challenging if the person they are caring for lives in a nursing home or assisted living facility that does not allow visitors. “The ones I talked to today I think are really hopeful that things are going to get better,” Ron said recently.

I like connecting with people when I feel I can give them something.

Ron Dexter, Wilder Volunteer, Caregiver Services