Two Pennsylvania Friends Reconnect Through Day Sharing
KenCrest’s Day Sharing program reunited two long lost friends, Dave and Laura, after two years apart due to COVID-19.
By Sydney Kerelo
As the camera’s clicked on and computer screens loaded, Laura beamed with the brightest smile as her friend Dave came into view.
“How many games of Bingo did you win this week?’ asks Dave to Laura. “Just one,” she squeals, laughing happily at him.
This video chat is one of the many virtual and in-person meetings Dave and Laura have done since reuniting through KenCrest’s Day Sharing program in April.
The pair met more than two years ago at KenCrest’s Robinson Street Community Participation day program (CPS) in Pottstown, PA before COVID hit and the program shut down.
“I started volunteering in about 1990 at RiverCrest,” says Dave. “I would go in and take people on field trips like bowling or McDonald’s, and one time I took them to a Phillies game. After RiverCrest closed, we moved away to Massachusetts for five years and then Washington for nine years. When we moved back, I called KenCerst looking for a way to volunteer, and they told me about their day program.”
He was initially supposed to help people struggling with their assigned work. But quickly, his role changed. Numerous people weren’t interested in the assignments and wanted a story read to them instead. Dave became that guy, quickly being dubbed as “the story man” within Robinson’s quarters.
“It evolved into me becoming the story man. I would pick a bunch of books, and six or eight people would listen to me read stories, including Laura. They became my friends, and then they’d steal my snacks,” he says, laughing fondly at the memory.
Laura was one of the only ones who didn’t steal Dave’s snacks, and he admired her greatly for it.
When COVID-19 hit, KenCrest’s day program shut its doors, forcing the two to separate. But Dave’s love of volunteering and the memories he created at Robinson Street brought him back to KenCrest.
“I’m retired now,” says Dave from his Pennsylvania home. “I worked for a big bad insurance company and spent a lot of time in offices, planes, and as an executive. Now, I’m just grandpa, and it’s the best job ever.”
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Part of his retirement is helping others through volunteering, something he’s loved since he was a kid. In college, he received an award for being the most outstanding volunteer, and since then, he’s continued that shining achievement.
Dave reached out to KenCrest and connected with Olivia Riordan, the Day Sharing Engagement Coordinator. She quickly joined him with Laura—who receives Community Based Services from KenCrest and is in our virtual CPS classes.
Their first meeting was virtually, but that didn’t stop them from enjoying each other’s company. Each session has a different plan; the pair will play hangman one week, and the next, they’ll be battling it out in Jeopardy.
“The best part of this virtual thing is that I look forward to seeing Laura’s smile,” says Dave. “I love it when she gets the word in hangman figured out, she gets all excited, and it’s great to see her be successful.”
Since then, Riordan has created a rotating schedule for Dave and Laura. One week they do virtual meetings, the next, in-person.
A few weeks ago, Dave and Laura went bowling at the Coventry Mall. “Laura’s last ball was a strike,” recalls Dave with a smile. “I think I was more excited than she was. We had so much fun, but we couldn’t quite get everything lined up, but that last ball, everything finally came together.”
For their next in-person outing, they want to get ice cream together before the end of summer.