Every resident has a unique story to tell. Each facility is full of people with diverse backgrounds and different life experiences. Volunteering in a facility and getting to know these outstanding individuals on a personal level can be one of life’s most rewarding experiences.
Mr. Darrell is a remarkable resident with is 78 years old and had a successful career as a welder. Throughout his career, he built a 75-foot barge that still floats on the Mississippi River; a de-watering gate for Georgia Pacific which works as a floodgate; and a 12-foot gazebo made out of metal, complete with decorative rails and panels.
After several years of retirement, Mr. Darrell began having minor health issues. When his wife passed away, he visited his son and stayed for three months. When his health began to decline further, he came to Hammond Nursing Home. When he first arrived, he said it was a tough transition, but soon he started making friends and taking part in the activities.
Mr. Darrell decided to maintain the residents’ garden where he grows many different vegetables each season. He tills the soil, plants the seeds, and picks the harvest. He then determined he would help keep the grounds of the facility maintained. He waters the plants and blows off the sidewalks to keep them clear for other residents. There was a maintenance issue one weekend, and Mr. Darrell helped monitor the issue until it was resolved.
He realized he still has so much more to offer and asked his son to bring his tools to the facility. He built a work bench out of scrap pallets and turned an old medicine cart into his tool storage. Mr. Darrell even made a makeshift wagon out of scrap metal. He was given an electric scooter by another resident’s family because it was not working properly. To the family’s amazement, he fixed it! Mr. Darrell decided to build a small trailer to be pulled by a repurposed medical cart. He repurposed an old bed frame, side bed rails, and wheelchair wheels and entered the trailer in the 2017 Craft Fair at the LNHA Convention where he won first prize. Darrell has now made four more trailers for other residents and staff members. Mr. Darrell has been named “Mr. Fix-Anything” by facility staff and residents. When interviewed he said, “If I only had my welding machine, the sky would be the limit.”
Aside from the birth of his children and marrying his beloved wife, he stated that this is the happiest he has been in his life. Mr. Darrell said, “If I stop doing something, I am afraid it will be the end.”
What a wonderful inspiration Mr. Darrell is to the other residents, facility staff and his family.