2018-04-20 / Community News

Volunteers make major impact on lives

By Grant McPherson Staff Writer


Bruce Shaw volunteers between 20 and 40 hours a week at Scarborough Terrace Assisted Living and Memory Care. He was honored at the group’s spring fashion show April 12 for his commitment and time spent with residents. He enjoys cooking for residents such as Virginia Nickless, right, and said food is one of the fondest memories the residents of Scarborough Terrace have. (Grant McPherson photo) Bruce Shaw volunteers between 20 and 40 hours a week at Scarborough Terrace Assisted Living and Memory Care. He was honored at the group’s spring fashion show April 12 for his commitment and time spent with residents. He enjoys cooking for residents such as Virginia Nickless, right, and said food is one of the fondest memories the residents of Scarborough Terrace have. (Grant McPherson photo) April is National Volunteer Month and like many organizations, Scarborough Terrace benefits from a handful of dedicated individuals who donate their time to work alongside staff.

Bruce Shaw, 52, has been volunteering at the assisted living and memory care home for almost four months but has quickly made an impact. He spends between 20 and 40 hours a week volunteering and even takes over for some staff members while they are on vacation.

Shaw, now retired, said his desire to volunteer at Scarborough Terrace came from his mother who spent much of her life working for charitable organizations. Shaw also came from a large family and witnessed many of his aging relatives need care later in their lives simultaneously.


JT Oliver and Elizabeth Roe rearrange some decorations before settling into an afternoon board game. Oliver is the assistant life enrichment director and works alongside volunteer Bruce Shaw to help engage the residents of Scarborough Terrace. (Grant McPherson photo) JT Oliver and Elizabeth Roe rearrange some decorations before settling into an afternoon board game. Oliver is the assistant life enrichment director and works alongside volunteer Bruce Shaw to help engage the residents of Scarborough Terrace. (Grant McPherson photo) “The biggest reward in life is making someone here laugh,” Shaw said. “We have archeologists, teachers, pharmacists, doctors and people who have owned farms. It’s a wealth of knowledge, like a little world inside a big world.”

Shaw hosted Scarborough Terrace’s spring fashion show held April 12 and was honored at the conclusion for his dedication to residents. Angela Cartwright, life enrichment director, said volunteers like Shaw are vital when trying to provide as many different activities as possible for Scarborough Terrace’s 80 residents.


From left, Bruce Shaw, JT Oliver and Director of Life Enrichment Angela Cartwright help plan meaningful activities for Scarborough Terrace residents. Cartwright said volunteers like Bruce Shaw are integral to improving quality of life. (Grant McPherson photo) From left, Bruce Shaw, JT Oliver and Director of Life Enrichment Angela Cartwright help plan meaningful activities for Scarborough Terrace residents. Cartwright said volunteers like Bruce Shaw are integral to improving quality of life. (Grant McPherson photo) “The biggest goal is having multiple options and having Bruce here is obviously a huge help,” Cartwright said. “We’re trying to have so many different programs at the same time. I think that for residents we want give them more opportunities to meet people and having more hands makes it that much better.”

Shaw helps with cooking classes, exercise classes and a gardening club that will be starting soon. He said he volunteered for a much larger nursing home in Florida before moving to Maine and enjoyed it, but prefers being able to remember each resident at Scarborough Terrace by name. For the residents, he said food and music are two of the biggest experiences that help them hang onto positive memories. He said patience is key when spending time with residents and he enjoys providing a level of comfort. Many of the staff and residents are female as well and he said his presence as a male provides a different kind of energy with residents.

“Everyone here wants to here,” Shaw said. “When I walk through the door, I’m at my second home. We’re like a big family, I spend so much time here. I come happy and I leave happier. It’s hard to leave sometimes.”

One of Shaw’s favorite activities is meeting with new residents and helping them adjust. He said the first two weeks are difficult for new members and he goes out of his way to incorporate them into his activities, such as cooking, and introduce them to the current residents.

“Making friends is our goal,” Shaw said. “They live here independently but we stir the pot, meaning we try to sit with the right people and find the missing pieces.”

Shaw said saying goodbye to a resident is the most challenging aspect of volunteering at Scarborough Terrace and a balance has to be struck between the work and personal relationships.

“We’re always protecting against emotional loss, but it’s impossible not to get attached,” Shaw said.

Cartwright said because of the nature of Scarborough Terrace, keeping residents engaged in a community is a top priority.

“When they’re in their rooms they’re depressed, thinking about the loss of friends, family, spouses, home or license,” Cartwright said. “It’s important to give them meaningful activities. It’s not just maintaining their lifestyle but enhancing it. We want them to continue to learn new things, meet new people, go on trips and try new things.

“We appreciate having volunteers and one more starting with us in the future. They give up their free time to help us engage the lives of residents. I honestly don’t know what to say. It’s indescribable. It’s amazing.”

Staff Writer Grant McPherson can be reached at news@scarboroughleader.com.

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