2014 Grace Award Presented to Constance Stevens

constance wandaConstance Stevens has been a CWC In-Home Respite and Friendly Visiting volunteer since April of 2010. She has always gone over and above the call of duty and has been a great supporter of CWC recruiting others to become volunteers. She volunteered nearly 500 hours of her time to her CWC friend last year alone. Constance’s first client was Marcus Daly. Wanda Daly, Marcus’s wife, said that what Constance did for him was incredible. Since Marcus has passed away, Constance continues by visiting Wanda. Constance takes her to the Davis Music Theatre and other places as Wanda doesn’t drive. They share movies and books. Even when Constance wasn’t able to visit due to illness, she called twice a week to check on Wanda and talk. “She’s like a daughter to me, I love her dearly.”

Our thanks to Constance for sharing their story.

How Perfectly Serendipitous! Rewards of Volunteering
by Constance Stevens, CWC Volunteer

Community service has always been a part of my life. When I was 13 years old, I volunteered at a summer camp for the Berkeley Recreation Program. Even in my work as a career counselor, I emphasize the importance of volunteer work for my clients who are on a job search or exploring career options. I explain how being a volunteer makes you feel good, creates local references, develops a network, gets you out of the house, learn new skills and increases your career serendipity.

For myself, four years ago, I wanted to give back to the community of Davis, where I have lived for 29 years and started my business 25 years ago. I had volunteered for the Chamber of Commerce for many years, but this time I wanted my next volunteer experience to be more personal and directly helpful.

I never dreamed I would be accepting the Grace award four years later. When I started with CWC I was assigned to Marcus and Wanda Daley. Marcus (92 years) had Alzheimer’s disease and still lived at home with his wife, Wanda. I was going to stay at home with Marcus, while Wanda got a break and left the house.

Before I got started, Diane Bamforth, the case assessment nurse from CWC, was so helpful in giving me moral support and numerous resources on activities I could do with Marcus. I had been a nursery school teacher, over 35 years ago, and I realized that many of my tricks of the trade could be recycled with Marcus. One of the books Diane gave me, talked about how people with dementia often can remember music from their youth, when they were in their 20’s. I love music, so I went on a musical journey back to the twenties and thirties (before I was born).

I was ready to spend an afternoon with Marcus. On my first day, Wanda thought it would be a good idea for the three of us to spend some time together. That was a great idea, since Marcus really wasn’t communicating very well at that point. Wanda and I got along immediately, talking about our mutual backgrounds in teaching and South American art. Her house was full of treasures from years of traveling. But, there was one painting of a young lady in a yellow sweater that Marcus pointed out to me and it turned out he had painted it a long time ago.

I got over my nervousness quickly and Wanda left for a dentist appointment. I used YouTube to find songs sung by the original artists on the internet and was amazed to hear Marcus sing the lyrics (“Tennessee Waltz” sung by Patti Page and “Yankee Doodle Dandy” sung by James Cagney). On another visit, I printed (in a large print) the lyrics from a song he didn’t know, but I thought he would like it. The song was “I Believe in You” by Don Williams. Then I found out that he could read, because he sang right along. It brought tears to my eyes and to Wanda too, when she came home and there was a sing-along.

However, those days were numbered and it was time for Marcus to go to a memory care facility in Dixon. I had become so friendly with Wanda and cared so much for Marcus, that I continued my volunteer work but in a new way. I would drive Wanda to Dixon to see her husband every week. Well, I got to know all the residents and employees of the Cherry Street Memory Care Residence. I learned a lot about dementia, because each resident had their own story and I visited with them for two years. By that time, I had made a cd with music from the 20’s – 50’s, with a lot of Broadway hits. I brought a cd player to Cherry Street. We all enjoyed the music and Wanda and Marcus danced. Those are great memories.

When Marcus passed away, Wanda and I continued our weekly visits and have become great friends. Like most ladies, we like to shop and go to lunch. I think we’ve been to every lunch spot and every store in Davis and Woodland. We plan to go to Macy’s in Sacramento one day.

We both love to read and we are constantly sharing our current book reviews. I got her hooked on Netflix and we also talk about movies. We never run out of things to talk about, from world news to who’s cute and who’s not. We don’t always agree. Jared Leto won the best supporting actor at the Academy Awards and Wanda thought he was not very attractive with his long hair and I thought he was dreamy. We both admit that her husband, Marcus was one handsome man. I have been in the helping fields all my life. I’ve worked with babies, young children, teens and now in my work as a career counselor, I work with people from high school to retirement. However, I had never worked with the elderly and I don’t have any grandparents or parents for that matter. So, CWC is so perfect for me. I got a grandma and ma all wrapped up in one Wonderful Wanda. I’m glad I got to meet and spend time with Marcus and I’ll always be thankful for having Wanda in my life. I thank Citizens Who Care for making this all happen and Diane Bamforth, for always being there for me.

CWC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. We do not use cookies.
This website was originally created by James Hutchison