Carol Hindbaugh can be found every Monday and Friday in the kitchen at Ministry With Community, prepping and serving lunch to members and enjoying every minute of it.
She retired three years ago after a 37-year career as a behavioral health nurse at Borgess Medical Center, and quickly discovered how much she missed connecting with her patients. In joining Ministry as a volunteer, Carol found that she could develop relationships with members there, some of whom she had met through her previous work.
Ministry, funded in part by United Way under its Basic Needs strategy, provides food, daytime shelter and other supportive services to individuals and families struggling with homelessness, poverty, mental illness and other challenges.
“They give me more than I give them,” she said. “I love the one-to-one contact with the members. So I come early, I make salads, we make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and set the table. But the nice thing is serving the members.”
In addition to kitchen duty, Carol has also teamed up with a former colleague and instructor at Kalamazoo Valley Community College to bring in nursing students.
Each semester, several groups come in for a series of three visits. They serve breakfast to members, take blood pressure readings and talk about any illnesses members might be dealing with. They also provide stress relief tools and spa sessions, offering nail care, Epson salt soaks and foot rubs.
“You cannot believe how wonderful that is, how the members appreciate that,” Carol said.
She added that the students often come into the experience tentatively and a little scared, but after three weeks they’re much more comfortable talking and interacting with members.
“That’s the impact I would like to make,” Carol said. “We’re all human, we all have issues, we all have stories, and we don’t have to be afraid of each other.”
She plans to continue her volunteer work as long as possible.
“Ministry does so many things that people don’t even realize,” she said. “Before I started working here, I really didn’t know. I knew this existed, but I didn’t know to what extent. It was unbelievable.”
Follow your own passion and volunteer! United Way can help you connect.