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Statewide Award Honors Fieldstone Volunteer accent

August 23, 2023 | By
Richard, Chelsey grandpaWhat a special day at Fieldstone of DeWitt, WesleyLife's Community for Healthy Living in DeWitt, Iowa! Richard Walker, a DeWitt resident and a committed volunteer for Fieldstone, learned he has been named Volunteer of the Year by LeadingAge Iowa, a statewide membership organization of non-profit providers of aging services. LeadingAge awards are indicative of exemplary work -- and worthy of a great deal of pride!
Chelsey Killean, Executive Director of Fieldstone, nominated Richard -- her grandfather! -- for the award. The nomination reads:
“Richard has been volunteering at Fieldstone of DeWitt since it opened its doors in summer 2022. Fieldstone is the replacement community for Westwing Place, a staple in the DeWitt community for over 50 years. On June 28, 2022, all 68 Westwing residents moved out of Westwing Place and into Fieldstone to experience a brand-new community built just for them.
"Richard was the primary contact for his aging uncle in the 1990s while his uncle lived at Westwing. Richard's mother-in-law also resided in the community in the early 2000s. For years, Richard had hosted 'Sonshine' church services on Sundays at Westwing, but he moved away from that role as he began caring for his wife, Marlene.
"Marlene had moved into Westwing in 2016 after a brief illness, residing there for more than four years until her untimely death from COVID-19. COVID also prevented Richard from visiting for quite a while, and residents missed him. He came back as COVID restrictions were lifted, again taking advantage of the opportunity to serve.   
"Richard's first commitment was hosting weekly Bible study in the community room at Fieldstone. One of the most highly attended structured activities at Fieldstone, Bible study allows residents to connect on a spiritual level a bit more formally while also entertaining fellowship before and after the study. Residents were elated to see a familiar face gracing the spaces at Fieldstone again!
"Richard also individually visits nearly all residents at Fieldstone, sometimes up to over an hour at a time. New residents find comfort in sharing their life stories with him, including their thoughts of their new transition to living in the Fieldstone community. Richard provides a non-judgmental listening ear. He can truly empathize with all residents and has built ever-lasting relationships with residents, their spouses, and their children.
"Richard now volunteers nearly 15-20 hours a week at Fieldstone, even during thunderstorms and snowstorms, prioritizing the value of wellness at Fieldstone. He focuses on two of WesleyLife's Core4 health and well-being tenets: Have the Right Outlook, and Be Connected. He is on a first-name basis with all team members and residents and is a core component of the volunteer program at the community."
Richard and ChelseyDuring the celebration today, the Fieldstone community -- including granddaughter Chelsey, at right -- honored Richard with words of praise, a morning filled with fellowship, and a delicious cake! Chelsey reports that Richard was indeed surprised; "You trickster! You tricked me!" he responded with a chuckle. Then, as the news of the award had time to sink in, Richard was reflective.

"It's overwhelming; it makes me emotional, really, to know that I've touched so many people's lives," he said.

Chelsey says she feels "a little spoiled" to be able to see her grandfather at her workplace every day, and she is grateful for his love and companionship as well as his impact on the residents she serves.
"The most special thing is that people individually come to me and tell me how special he is to them, and how much they appreciate his visits and friendship," she says.
LeadingAge Iowa will honor Richard and other award recipients during a gathering next month in Cedar Rapids. 

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