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Caregiver role spurs love of volunteering at St. Agnes – Greta Kramer has volunteered for about 17 years

Written by Chronicle Staff. Posted in Featured, Senior Living

Published on April 03, 2019 with No Comments

Greta Kramer leads the activity, You Be the Judge, while volunteering at St. Agnes Adult Day Service Center in Valparaiso. Kramer offers her time to guests every Wednesday morning and has been a volunteer for about 17 years.

Greta Kramer’s passion as a volunteer at St. Agnes Adult Day Service Center has its roots in her own role as a caregiver.

“I was a caregiver myself. I had a daughter who had Rett Syndrome, which mainly affects girls. They seem normal at birth, but then regress,” she said. “She got to the point where she was like a 2½ month old and she never progressed beyond that. Back in the ’60s, there weren’t schools, so she was mainly at home.”

The rare, severe neurological disorder prompted doctors to tell the Kramers that their daughter would not live for more than two and one-half years.

“She fooled them and lived to 23. She spent the last six years in a home where she was taken care of, as I could no longer lift her,” Kramer said. “I know what it’s like to be a caregiver and how stressful it is and how hard it can be. You must get out. So, anything I can do to help other caregivers get some time off and give their loved ones something fun to do and pleasant to do and be with other people … I am in favor of that.”

On Wednesday morning each week, Kramer helps St. Agnes’ guests by assisting with activities, helping them move between activities and playing the piano.

“I don’t know exactly how long I have been here … about 17 years. My husband, George, and I started here after we retired. We wanted something to do in our spare time as we had been travelling and we wanted to do something else,” she said. “This appealed to us. We found three days to take the training. My husband was here until he got sick and passed away. I have continued on.”

Kramer appreciates the impact she and other committed volunteers make on St. Agnes every day.

“Places like this wouldn’t exist without volunteers. They’re very committed. People stay a long time and they come in when they are supposed to,” she said. “It’s a very special place and there is not anything like it. They are so good to the guests. Guests have become very good friends and they laugh and love to sing.

“I get as much enjoyment out of it as they do.”

Located on the campus of St. Paul Catholic Parish in Valparaiso, St. Agnes Adult Day Service Center offers a nurturing and structured environment for adults who are facing Alzheimer’s or dementia or who are not able to remain at home alone. St. Agnes provides health services, activities, exercise classes, daily chores and a comforting space while allowing family members to work or run errands during day hours. For more information, visit www.stagnescentervalpo.org.

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