Ruby is sitting in her recliner with her feet up when she talks to us. As a retired EMT and a mother to grown children, she’s certainly earned the leisure time. Although she enjoys her small comforts, Ruby’s not exactly the sedentary type. She’s active in her church community, and in addition to regularly attending FSL’s Wickenburg Center as a client, she also volunteers there most days.
“I sit at the front desk four days a week,” Ruby says. “I usually take lunch money, and then I’ve taught crochet and anything else that was needed. Then when the pandemic struck, they called me and asked if I’d like to come in and help a couple of days a week, and then pretty soon I was doing it four days a week. I also helped with bingo by selling the cards and doing the payouts. I’ve always been a helper.”
“Helper” is maybe a bit of an understatement for Ruby. She goes above and beyond the call of duty in making sure that other clients are taken care of. In fact, after nearly 16 years of attending FSL—nearly as long as she’s lived in Wickenburg itself—she’s become such a mainstay in the FSL community, that other clients often bring their problems to her before anyone else.
Ruby recalls that a few years ago, there was a woman who didn’t have money for food. She was living on rice and beans, but she felt bad asking for help. She reached out to Ruby, and Ruby was able to connect her with assistance that same day. “It was handled quickly, but it was handled very discreetly,” Ruby remembers, “so she went home with food.”
For Ruby, it’s things like this—the commitment to meeting people where they are, regardless of their circumstances or their needs—that make FSL special.
“You know when you get up, you can go there and you can be in a safe place. You can get a safe meal and it’s $3.50,” she says. “We all have bumps in the road, but you still get to eat. I stress this to anybody who asks me because they don’t always understand that they can get lunch cards and that other resources are available to them. Most of us are living on social security checks, so we have people who sometimes need help once in a while.”
Finding Community and Purpose at FSL
Aside from the physical resources available, what Ruby values the most about FSL’s Wickenburg Center is the community there. As a widow whose family lives far away, Ruby understands better than most how loneliness can creep up on you.
“A lot of us are alone. I’m alone, my family is 2,000 miles away and the senior center is my family,” she says. “It’s been seven years since I lost my second husband, and it’s still a sad event. [At the Center] you can talk to other people in similar situations but you can also do things and you can laugh. You know that you can go and you’ll find someone to listen to, somebody that needs you to listen to them. Like today when we played bingo. It makes you feel good when you leave. You know, I didn’t win bingo but we had fun.”
You can hear Ruby’s gratitude for the FSL community in her voice, and she’s transformed that gratitude into action by giving back. “For me, working up at the desk, I can help people. I have people come in who are in a situation where they don’t know what to do first. I’m able to give them a form to fill out and go get the person they need to talk to. It’s just a real win-win—you can be helpful but you have people who care about you.”
When we thanked her for all she does, Ruby replied matter-of-factly: “Well, I can sit home and be sad or I get out and do something where I’m talking to other people and being helpful, and that’s important to me.”
Established in 1974, the Foundation for Senior Living is dedicated to providing integrated, customized care for those who need it in the Phoenix area. We offer a wide range of home- and community-based services, including:
- Affordable housing options
- Nutritious meal programs
- Health and wellness programs
- Senior centers
- Recreation programs
- Support for caregivers
All of these are designed to enable Arizonans of all ages to live happier, healthier, more independent lives. If you or someone you know is struggling to have their needs met, don’t hesitate to contact us to find out how we can help you. And if you’re able, consider donating or volunteering your time to our mission. We can’t wait to work with you!