Isabella Hayes has always enjoyed socializing with older adults but never anticipated making such a strong connection with a stranger so quickly - until she met Diane Daria. As a Friendly Helping volunteer with FriendshipWorks, Isabella was assigned to assist with a few simple tasks around Diane’s apartment such as organizing her closet, and decluttering that hard-to-reach space on top of the refrigerator.
On one visit, the two sat down together to sort, count, and roll coins, which Diane planned to later donate to a local animal shelter. As their conversation turned to animals, including the many over the years Diane had rescued, it was clear they shared a love of pets. Isabella felt an even deeper appreciation for Diane upon learning that she adopted her beloved dog, “Peanut”, from a neighbor who could no longer care for him.
Isabella loves learning from Diane’s stories and life experiences, admiring her “go-getter” personality, and how she stays active and engaged. Though there are 55 years between the two, the age gap seems to disappear.
“We have a tendency to connect with people our own age,” says Isabella. “There is so much value in getting to know an older person. We have more in common than we think.”
Isabella was matched with FriendshipWorks through the College of Social Innovation fellowship program and the University of Vermont where she is pursuing a degree in public health. “I want to learn how a nonprofit works. FriendshipWorks is the perfect fit. I am very close to my grandparents, and seeing so many older people in the hospital where I work, I feel connected to the mission.”
With the Friendly Helping tasks completed, Diane and Isabella are still in touch – they attended a talent show together and are planning a game night soon.“I treasure this experience,” Isabella says of her connection with Diane. “It will stay with me forever.”