JFS Perspectives

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Rochelle Rittmaster: More Than Just a Friendly Visitor

Rochelle Rittmaster: More Than Just a Friendly Visitor

Rochelle Rittmaster, a semi-retired engineer and geologist from Kansas City, has recently dedicated herself to serving others through several volunteer roles. When she was laid off from work in late 2017, she had some free time and decided to explore volunteer opportunities with the Boulder JFS Friendly Visitor program.

She was first matched with a man with Alzheimer’s, whom she visited for eight months. “As the disease progressed and he started to deteriorate, I felt my visits weren’t benefiting him,” Rochelle says. “It got to where he no longer recognized me or could interact.” She talked with Ingrid Swords, Boulder JFS volunteer coordinator, to find another older adult to visit. That’s when Rochelle met Marcia, a retired nurse who suffers from a brain injury she got 18 years ago. It was a great match.

Rochelle and MarciaThey hit it off from the start and now spend two or three hours together every couple of weeks. “We frequently go to a neat coffee shop in Lafayette where there’s a nice outdoor space with lots of sun and we spend a lot of time talking,” says Rochelle. The relationship has become much more than a volunteer experience; they’ve become friends.

Rochelle explains, “Marcia is very bright and knowledgeable about so many topics, including health, mental health, and life experience. We have so much to share about each other’s lives. We have similar political values and spend some time talking politics.”

Learn more about Marcia’s story and the help Rochelle has given her in this video

Last month, JFS needed someone to take two women in their 90s from Balfour Senior Living to the Klezmania Christmas Eve celebration at the Boulder JCC. Rochelle was interested in attending the event and offered to drive them. “We had such a great time and even got to sit with the Klezmer band!” says Rochelle enthusiastically. “Everyone had fun and we got to know each other a bit. We sat together all night and I really bonded with those ladies. They even invited me to high tea and a concert at Balfour and we’re becoming friends.”

Rochelle can’t say enough about her positive experiences as a Boulder JFS volunteer. She says, “It’s a pleasure to do. I get something out of volunteering and I hope the people I work with do, too.” Last summer, Rochelle attended a volunteer lunch ‘n’ learn Boulder JFS hosted about working with people with Alzheimer’s and/or memory loss. She really enjoyed that, and it helped her understand some of what she had experienced with her first Friendly Visitor client.

Thank you, Rochelle, for your commitment and dedication to helping older adults in our community!

To learn more about volunteer opportunities, please contact Ingrid Swords at 720.749.3403 or view them online.