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Volunteer Devotes Retirement to Giving Back  

Ask Fred Gay the secret to his longevity and good health, and the almost 98-year-old will tell you to stay off the couch, keep moving, and keep doing things.

“If you’re blessed with good enough health to be around, do something with it,” said Fred.

For the past 35 years, Fred has spent his time giving back to the community as a hospice volunteer at VNA Care. He began visiting patients in their homes to give a spouse or other loved one a breather from their caregiving responsibilities. He added VNA Care’s Rose Monahan Hospice Home to his volunteer work 15 years ago and has given all of his hospice volunteer time to the residence exclusively for nearly a decade.

“This place is my second home,” said Fred. “It feels like family.”

Fred’s volunteer shifts have been dubbed “Fridays with Fred” by the Rose Monahan staff. He’s there like clockwork every Friday at 9 a.m., helping wherever he’s needed. You may find him talking and playing games with patients or simply being a quiet presence by a patient’s bedside. He also helps with household chores, like folding laundry, to keep things running smoothly around the house.

When Fred tells people about the Rose Monahan Home, he says “it’s a place where people can go in their last days to get the care they need, the attention they need, and the love they need. There are great people who work here, and they were born to do this kind of work. I’m fortunate to be part of it.”

Fred’s spirit of volunteerism came from watching his father. “He was always doing something for somebody. If anyone ever needed an extra hand, he was the first one there to help.”

Like many of VNA Care’s volunteers, Fred feels he gets far more than he gives. Melinda Hayden-Queeno, hospice volunteer coordinator, said, “Fred has the true heart of a volunteer.”

Fred said, “This is something I love doing. I look forward to Fridays. It’s the best day of the week as far as I’m concerned.”

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