Wilder Volunteer Loves Giving Caregivers a Break
Longtime Wilder volunteer Johanna (Jo) Stammeier-Toole has given over 1,000 hours of her time to the Wilder Community Center for Aging. Jo first started volunteering in the Adult Day Health program. When the program closed in summer 2020, she then volunteered to work with a new caregiver respite program, Wilder Connect.
Like many Wilder volunteers, Jo lived in the community, regularly driving past the organization. Starting in summer 2014, she volunteered up to three times a week. Due to health issues she reduced her volunteering, but still commits to four hours a week.
The Wilder Community Center for Aging appealed to Jo due to her personal experience caring for a loved one. “I am a daughter of a mother who had dementia,” she says. “My mother used to tell me I radiated a ‘comforting calmness’ when around her. Because of that knowledge, I love knowing I can help by giving caregivers a break and easing the suffering of people with dementia.”
Wilder employee Christa Schwarting, who has worked closely with Jo, believes her biggest impact has come from her dedication and generosity. “In addition to volunteering her time, Jo also donates items to the program. She has contributed bingo prizes, and even donated pepper when she noticed we were out,” Christa says. There is one special memory of Jo’s kindness that stands out for Christa. “We were making homemade ice cream and one of the clients was lactose intolerant. Jo ran to the local co-op and bought almond milk so that person could still participate.”
Jo is quite modest regarding her effect as a volunteer. “I hope my greatest impact as a volunteer is supporting the staff and hopefully making their jobs a bit easier,” she says.