The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

December 7, 2012

Gathering celebrates VOICE

Staff Writer

TARBORO — “You’ve got to have God in your life, and secondly, you need to have care for other people,”

Shirley Jones told the crowd at a celebration for Volunteers Offering Independent Care for the Elderly (VOICE) at the Main Street Inn Tuesday afternoon.

At the age of 72, Jones, of Rocky Mount, has been helping people “practically all my adult life.”

“It just gives me joy,” she said. “Just the joy of knowing you can help somebody who really needs it.”

Jones has been volunteering for VOICE for 20 years. She received a plaque and a gift from the organization at the celebration.

“She is a jewel,” said Myra McCall, volunteer coordinator for VOICE, which has 21 volunteers in Edgecombe County. When McCall calls Jones to pick up a client, Jones said she’s there “nine times out of 10.”

VOICE volunteers transport seniors over 60 years of age to doctors’ appointments and errands such as the grocery store and the pharmacy.

“We try to keep these people healthy by keeping them up on medical appointments and give them the ability to remain independent,” McCall said.

“I do believe a lot of them wouldn’t be able to go to the doctor if it wasn’t for VOICE,” said Jones. “It’s just a unique program.” She said some of the clients’ situations, such as the ones on oxygen machines, bring “tears to your eyes,” but she is glad to help.

“It lights up their face when you go to take them somewhere,” Jones said. She provides transportation to four or five clients per month.

Jones worked in human services for 29 years before retiring from her job as a nutrition site manager.

“I found out transportation means a lot to the elderly, especially low income,” she said. “I saw the reason people didn’t go to the doctor was because they didn’t have transportation.”

McCall said the number of clients and volunteers for the organization is on the rise.

“They [the volunteers] are just wonderful people and they do a great service,” she said. Another long-term volunteer at Tuesday’s celebration was Ruth Cherry. She called VOICE a “three-phase program – visiting, telephoning and calling.”

“I have enjoyed every minute of it,” Cherry said.

“It makes me proud to be a resident of Edgecombe County to have such a wonderful organization here,” said Loretta Braswell, one-year volunteer with VOICE. Pinetops Mayor Vines Cobb also applauded VOICE’s efforts.

“I think it has truly served our population well. We are in good hands,” he said.

Sheila Anderson, Allstate Insurance primary agent, gave a $1,000 grant to VOICE at the celebration. VOICE is part of the Community Medicine Foundation.