"I have always been a caregiver. And every senior citizen, rather than being bored, should volunteer. Even if you aren't as mobile as you used to, or if you can't see as well.....there is always someone that needs you. Whether it means visiting the shut-ins at the nursing home, or reading to the little children at the local library."
These are the words of retiree, Dorothy Svenvold, of Pillager. If anyone needs a role model, Dorothy is the one.
In 1958, Dorothy married Aaron Simons, a paraplegic. They were married for 30 years and during that time they adopted two children. Dorothy devotedly tended to Aaron's needs. They also acquired a small group of friends who were also wheelchair bound.
During the many visits they shared with their friends, there would be many discussions on various health needs that Dorothy felt compelled to learn about. She wanted to know exactly what Aaron needed physically due to his disability but also why it was needed.
'I really appreciate Harmony House and Horizon Health for giving me this wonderful opportunity.'
In 1978, at age 49, Dorothy fulfilled her dream and attended Anoka Ramsey Technical School to earn her Licensed Practical Nurse license. Dorothy retired from nursing in 1992 after working as a geriatrics nurse in St. Paul and an LPN at Woodland Good Samaritan Nursing Home.
She kept busy with volunteering.
Whether as a member of the Pillager Senior Citizen Board, the Region 5 Area Agency on Aging's Council on Aging Advisory Committee, First Baptist Church, or as the "community nurse/volunteer" for the elderly citizens of Pillager, Dorothy never had a dull moment.
In 1989, Dorothy married Ernest Svenvold. They have kept very busy with volunteering activities, and enjoying each other's company.
For the last four years Dorothy has taken care of an elderly woman, Hilda Gerrels in Pillager. Both ladies have known each other for more than 40 years. When Hilda's husband passed away 10 years ago, Dorothy began watching over Hilda's health and safety. Dorothy began looking for assisted living facilities in the Brainerd area in the past year when Hilda's health began to deteriorate.
Dorothy visits Hilda often and even gets to help tuck her in at night on occasion.
You see, when Dorothy first visited Harmony House she commented that she would appreciate the opportunity, if it ever came, to work in such a wonderful facility. Dorothy, at age 72, now works every Tuesday and every other weekend. She also fills in for vacations.
"I really appreciate Harmony House and Horizon Health for giving me this wonderful opportunity," Dorothy said.
Barb Card, director of the Region 5 Area Agency on Aging, said: "We are so proud of our Council on Aging member, Dorothy Svenvold. She is truly an inspiration to all and especially to other senior citizens. We should all have her enthusiasm and vibrant personality. She is such a caring individual who truly just wants to help others. Retiring just isn't a word in Dorothy's vocabulary."
Article written by: Sharon Notch, Region 5 Area Agency on Aging
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