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The Suburbanite
  • Volunteer receives more than she gives

  • There are moments in life when a chance meeting with a giving person leaves an undeniable impression. Wanda Covert from Massillon is one of those caring and giving people others remember long after talking with her. Covert is a volunteer at the J.R. Coleman Adult Day Care Center in the Trinity United Church of Christ in Canton.

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  • There are moments in life when a chance meeting with a giving person leaves an undeniable impression. Wanda Covert from Massillon is one of those caring and giving people others remember long after talking with her. Covert is a volunteer at the J.R. Coleman Adult Day Care Center in the Trinity United Church of Christ in Canton.
    “I started volunteering here around Mother’s Day in 2011,” Covert said. “My daughter wanted me to stay active after my husband passed away. She mentioned that the J.R. Coleman needed volunteers for a fashion show event they were holding.”
    And, as they say, the rest is history. Covert began volunteering at the center three days a week, starting midmorning and helping through late afternoon. She greets clients as they come in the door, plays games with them, helps them with crafts, prepares the afternoon snack, attends Bible study and does “anything that the staff asks me to help with.”
    “I really get so much out of helping out and being here. I need to stay active, physically and mentally. I believe the Lord wants me to serve a purpose, so I feel I’ve gotten the most blessings from being here,” Covert said.
    Covert will be 80 in March. She has lived with her son since her husband passed away on Christmas Eve morning four years ago. Her husband had had several strokes, so Wanda helped care for him for a few years before he passed.
    “My husband was diagnosed with lung cancer in December 2008 and died 10 days later,” Covert said. “We had been together 56 years and I still miss him today.”
    Karen Shackelford, Covert’s daughter, said volunteering has changed her mother’s life.
    “(After my dad died), she spent the next couple of years sitting at home and didn’t get out or do much,” Shackelford said. “I got involved with starting a group called C.A.S.T. (Caring and Serving Together) where we serve the community in many different ways. I mentioned to my mother that we needed volunteers, and she wanted to get involved.”
    Lesley Venturella, the volunteer coordinator for C.A.S.T. who also volunteers at J.R. Coleman, said there are six “loving and caring volunteers” that help at the center. Venturella said there are 50 clients at the center with 25 to 30 coming in each day.
    “Wanda is a total inspiration to everyone who knows her and has ever met her,” Venturella said. “She’s as sincere and beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside. She is so much a part of the center that when she’s not here, she is really missed. She’s become a friend to everyone here.”
    Before retiring at age 62, Covert worked as a secretary and sold fine jewelry. She is determined to keep volunteering as long as her health holds up. If family genetics have anything to do with it, that could be for another couple of decades.
    Page 2 of 2 - Covert’s mother lived to be 99 years old. One of her aunts lived to be 102 and another lived to be 95. She has two adult children, two grandchildren and one great-grandchild that help keep her feeling young.
    Keeping her skills updated also contributes to feeling young and active. Covert recently completed a CPR certification test.
    “The center wants to have volunteers that are certified in CPR. I never thought I would pass the test, but I did, and I feel like it was a great accomplishment,” Covert said.
    She said the staff and the clients at the center are fantastic, and they feel the same about her.
    “We call Wanda our grandmother,” said Silka Holland and Michelle Prowell, activities assistants at J.R. Coleman.
    “Wanda and Lesley are both blessings for us,” Holland said. “When we call Wanda to come and help us, she comes right in and takes over.”
    Covert said while the staff does a great job with the clients, they have their daily duties to complete and don’t get to spend as much time talking with the clients. Covert feels that is where she is doing the greatest good, talking and being with the clients.
    “Being able to help and volunteer has been very fulfilling for me,” Covert said. “And I think it’s been a help to many of the clients.”