Her Gift for Volunteering

For Karen Lanners, volunteering at Central Baptist Village evolved organically during visits with her mother, Helen, who is a resident at CBV—and she plans to continue in her role as “unofficial volunteer” for a very long time!

Karen started volunteering at CBV soon after her mother moved in. Helen loves bingo, so Karen stepped up to help run the game. Her approach to volunteering is, “If you need me to do something, I will do it.” This includes helping residents get on and off the bus or pushing residents in their wheelchairs so they can get out and about the CBV campus.

“I feel lucky that I have the time to do it,” says Karen, who visits her mother three to four times a week. After retiring two years ago, Karen stays busy in her role as president of her condominium board and church council president, among other things. Although she doesn’t have set volunteer hours, Karen always looks forward to being at CBV and makes time to be there often. “I can’t imagine not spending time here. Not once have I felt an obligation to be here.”

In her dual role as a resident’s adult child and volunteer, Karen exemplifies what it means to bring joy to others. With her infectious spirit and positive energy, Karen explains that it is not in her nature to “just stand there” while visiting her mother, adding that she was raised to help others. Whether giving residents rides in their wheelchairs or attending bus trips, Karen is an engaged and enthusiastic companion who spreads joy to the CBV community: a friend to all. “I’m not just visiting my mom; I’m visiting all of them,” she says, especially those residents who may not have any visitors. “It feels good to brighten someone’s day.”

Building relationships happens naturally when you’re volunteering, and this is true for Karen. “I’ve come to love the residents,” she says, noting that she makes a point to remember each resident’s name. In turn, Karen is grateful to have true friendships with residents. She loves that when she walks down the hallway, everyone says hello, making her feel like she truly belongs at CBV. Karen also has established friendships with CBV staff, mentioning Lola, Renee, and Alketa.

Karen shares that her mother was initially hesitant about assisted living. Helen had been living independently in Florida, biking or walking three miles a day. When Helen’s health took a downturn, she moved to Illinois to live with Karen. Soon, it became evident that Helen would benefit from more social interaction, which is when Karen found CBV. “Central Baptist Village looks and feels more like a hotel than an assisted living facility,” points out Karen. “When mom saw the apartments and the facility, she was so happy—the views sold her!”

Now her mother is thriving! “This is such a cheerful place,” explains Karen, who gives rave reviews to anyone contemplating a move to CBV. The staff are “wonderful,” and Helen loves being around people who have the time to engage with her. CBV is Helen’s home, where she feels safe and secure and happy. As Karen emphasizes, “My mom is living, not just surviving.”

Helen greatly benefits from social interaction and the caring staff. She has made many friends and loves all of the activities CBV offers. All of these wonderful moments—making new friends, discovering new passions—are coming at a time in life when it’s not necessarily expected, which speaks to the blessings that CBV provides. “My mom has lived her whole life with rose-colored glasses on and CBV allows her to keep doing that.”

Karen often asks her mom and other residents, “What would you like to see go on here?” She encourages her mother and others to try as many new things as possible—even if they don’t think they’ll like it—to keep on learning new things to stay physically active and mentally stimulated. In fact, Karen’s siblings tell her that when they try to call their mom, she never answers her phone because she’s so busy!

Volunteering is a true calling for Karen. Her former pastor once spoke, “God gave us all gifts,” and these words resonated deeply. “I love interacting with people,” Karen says. “Volunteering is my gift.”

Learn more about Assisted Living at CBV.