Joan Waldman calls work with Mount Evans ‘a lifetime journey’
Joan Waldman doesn’t work for Mountain Evans Home Health Care & Hospice, but boy, does she ever work for Mount Evans!
“I’ve been told I work full- time hours,” says Waldman, a longtime Hiwan resident and all-the-time Mount Evans volunteer. “I don’t really think about that.”
What Waldman thinks about mostly is what Mount Evans needs done and how she can best help make it happen. On any given day one might find her stuffing envelopes, entering data, assembling event packets, registering attendees, distributing posters, making copies, stacking chairs, or folding T-shirts. No job is too small to escape Waldman’s careful attention, nor any challenge too great. Her energy seems boundless, and that brimming reservoir of purposeful vigor was serving Mount Evans on a small scale long before she devoted herself entirely to the nonprofit’s cause.
“I’ve done the Freedom Run for years,” she says. “I have almost all the T-shirts.”
Over those years and in 5-kilometer increments, Waldman learned about Mount Evans’ countless good works from the mouths of the ordinary citizens who help keep it ticking. In April, 2013, she decided to take one more giant step and attend volunteer training classes. Her first assignment upon graduating was a “companion visit” to Life Care Center of Evergreen.
“I worried all the way there,” she recalls. “What if I can’t do this? I sat in the parking lot, took a sip of water, and went in. A lady in a wheel chair stopped me in the lobby. She said ‘You’re new here! You come and see me if you need anything.’ That took away my fear, and the visit was wonderful. I drove home with the biggest smile on my face. I can do this. I can be present for these people, and give them joy and comfort.”
Waldman has since been present for many people approaching their journey’s end, and has likewise given joy and comfort to many others who’ve scarcely begun their own. Just months into her voluntary tour, she signed up to become a Camp Comfort volunteer “Buddy” and help smooth the road for a grieving child.
“At the end of that first camp, a child came up to me and said ‘Camp Comfort is the best thing that ever happened to me.’ That’s just how I felt, and how I still feel.”
Waldman plans to be a Buddy for as long as she can keep up with the kids, and plans to keep helping to organize the twice-yearly camps for a long time after she can’t. Earlier this year, she was asked to address the incoming class of first-time Buddies and help prepare them for the uniquely powerful experience they were about to share.
“I told them there’s no set of rules or procedures that will make you a good Buddy. You just have to be humble, and compassionate, and you have to be there for them.”
The thing about Waldman is that even when she’s not working for Mount Evans, she’s still working for Mount Evans. In her spare time she knits shawls and lap blankets for the residents of Life Care and Elk Run.
“It’s just my way of letting them know there’s warmth and love for them.”
Indeed, warmth and love are what drew Waldman to Mount Evans in the first place, and they’re what continue to bind her to its mission.
“Everyone at Mount Evans brings their own unique gifts and talents, which are all woven and blended together to make it the beautiful, special place that it is. I feel it’s nearly impossible for me to ever run out of energy or love of volunteering at Mount Evans, and I know there are many more opportunities for me to help that I haven’t tried yet.
“All the years I worked didn’t give me the fulfillment I’ve had in the last two years. This will be a lifetime journey for me.”
“I’m a rosy-eyed Pollyanna,” she laughs. “I don’t see barriers. I believe you can do anything.”