With retirement from Centegra Hospital-Woodstock on the horizon, Woodstock resident Kathy Hahn was on the lookout for a volunteer opportunity.
A fellow book club member suggested the Senior Care Volunteer Network, a nonprofit organization based in Crystal Lake that aims to keep senior citizens in their own homes for as long as possible.
“She spoke highly of the organization,” Hahn, 68, said of the group formerly known as Faith in Action.
So even before retiring as a medical technologist in February 2012, Hahn started to provide rides to area seniors so they could get to medical appointments, run errands or get out to socialize.
“I started doing some transports here and there, and I found I very much liked it,” Hahn said.
The group’s volunteers also provide respite care, do yardwork and offer friendly visits.
Most of the rides Hahn gives are to seniors who need to go to medical appointments or grocery shopping. Some rides are just one way, with another volunteer making the return trip later in the day.
“There is a delightful woman who is 93 who I take to Dorr Township to play pinochle twice a week,” she said.
The woman is there for three hours, so on Fridays, Hahn drops her off, goes to her own Bible study and then picks her up afterward.
Like the more than 300 other volunteers, Hahn is able to determine just how much time she spends helping out.
“What is wonderful about this volunteer opportunity is that it is completely up to the volunteer’s schedule as to what they do,” she said.
For instance, Hahn will call in to see what needs the group has for the next two weeks.
“Before I know it, I’m up to 10 [rides],” Hahn said.
Oftentimes, her schedule allows her to volunteer about five days a week, frequently starting at 6 a.m., for dialysis appointments.
“When you do something you like, it just makes you joyful,” Hahn said of her reason for volunteering.
Last year, Hahn put in 250 volunteer hours, making her one of only 30 volunteers to put in more than 100 hours, said volunteer coordinator Susan McCoy, who nominated Hahn.
What makes Hahn an Everyday Hero, McCoy said, is not only the number of rides Hahn provides, but also the personal touch she gives each senior.
For example, Hahn was taking a woman named Eileen to chiropractic visits and grocery shopping regularly.
When Eileen signed up for an exercise class, Hahn decided that instead of dropping Eileen off, she would take the class, too.
“It’s just the kind of person she is,” McCoy said.
Hahn also is a great recruiter, McCoy said. She often helps out at events such as the Hearthstone Senior Fair and the People in Need Forum at McHenry County College.
“She speaks from her perspective as a volunteer, speaking from her heart,” McCoy said. “She’s a special lady.”
Hahn points to a need for more volunteers, as well as her own experience looking for a place to help.
“I know there’s X number of people looking for volunteer opportunities,” she said, citing a particular need for those who can give rides from the Woodstock area.
The mission of the Senior Care Volunteer Network is one that resonates with Hahn. She tells of a former volunteer whose eyesight now prevents him from driving himself.
“We’re all going to get there at some point,” she said. “We just have to hope there is something in place for us.”
But for now, Hahn finds joy in what she’s doing to help others.
“I’m also meeting some incredibly nice people, she said.