By Ariana Altiery

After Maureen’s father passed away 20 years ago, she sought out a volunteer opportunity with seniors.

“I have always loved older folks,” said Maureen, who has been a Chicago Cares volunteer since 1997. “A lot of them never get visitors and I hope someone is there for me later.” Now, Maureen is a volunteer at Chicago Cares’ Lakeview Seniors Bingo project.

“Bingo is no small thing,” she said. “For many of these people, it is the only contact they’ll have.”

Maureen’s rich volunteer experience has inspired her to do even more: After a 25-year career in human resources and “a lot of soul searching,” Maureen is making a career change and pursuing a Masters in Geriatric Social Work at Loyola University.

Maureen has become a friend and advocate for the seniors she serves. She told me about a relationship she made with a woman named Gertrude. Maureen got to be friends with Gertrude and soon started visiting her outside of the volunteer project to have lunch and play gin rummy. Eventually, Maureen became her legal guardian and handled her affairs when she passed away. Gertrude is only one of the many people who Maureen has impacted and been impacted by.

Maureen is proud to be part of a corps of Chicago Cares volunteers who are working to combat the loneliness that so often plagues senior homes. “I am always so impressed by my team of volunteers, they keep showing up and they are high-caliber.”

Maureen is excited to finish her Masters and begin a career serving the population she loves so much, but not before convincing the site where she interns to become a Chicago Cares partner.

“I learned through this work that if I had it to do all over again, I would be doing this.”