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Jean Loomis, 66

Jean Loomis of Rush was awarded the Leading Age Employee of Distinction honor in August for her work at St. John’s Meadows

By Ernst Lamothe Jr.

Q: What do you do at St. John’s Meadows?

A: I coordinate the volunteers at St. John’s. It is something that really gives me a lot of happiness. They are just great people and they really make me enjoy my job. When you are working with people who volunteer and give of their time for outreach, in schools, ringing the kettle bell every holiday season, you are truly dealing with special people who understand the importance of giving back.

Q: What aspects of your job do you like the most?

A: I enjoy the personal conversations that I get to have with these volunteers. They are people who support me whenever I need them and I would like to think I help them out in whatever way they may need. Some of them are fun-loving people and some of them are very serious. But regardless, you see that they really do enjoy their jobs and they feel very comfortable talking to residents. It is the same way with me. I think interacting with people makes life great. When you get a chance to hear someone’s story about their life and see that you can make a difference in some way it really makes you feel great too.

Q: How did you feel when you heard you would be receiving a prestigious award?

A: I was really surprised when they told me I won. There are so many really deserving people who do incredible work every day that I sometimes don’t know how I won. When I read the nomination letter that was given on my behalf, I couldn’t believe the wonderful words they were saying about me. I am truly humbled and want to continue doing this work. I was joking with people saying that I hope my head doesn’t get too big after winning the award. But in all honestly, all I feel is truly blessed because my job is serving others and I love doing it all the time.

Q: Why should more people volunteer?

A: I really think being involved keeps your mind active. I know people who are in their late 70’s who started volunteering and I know someone who is 101 who keeps helping out. I know the average age of my volunteers are around 85 years. When I talk to them about why they want to volunteer, they talk about how much fun they have giving back. It can really add to your value and quality of life. It gives you a reason to get out of the house or apartment. Sometimes seniors are in a lot of pain and, because of that, they choose to sit in the house and do nothing. That is also how your bones stiffen up. When you get out of the house and experience life and interact with others, it is a special feeling. Some will even bring a friend to help them volunteer and it becomes a fun activity for the both of them. It helps get them energized.

Q: What do you do with your free time?

A: I like to be outdoors and dig in the garden. I can make quite a mess, but it keeps me relaxed. I like to plant different kinds of flowers and work on my rock garden. A lot of people think that being outside and gardening can be stressful, but it does really relax me. Pulling weeds is actually therapeutic for me. I don’t know why but it is. I am someone who also enjoys camping. There is something about being out in the outdoors and sitting around a camp fire that really does something for me. People really underestimate the power of the outdoors. It can really be something that brings you closer to nature and just makes you appreciate life a little more.

Q: What do you do to stay active ?

A: I do like moving around. People always ask me when I am going to quit but I have no intention of quitting anytime soon. I am happy when I am moving around and doing something. I tell people all the time that you can’t just sit still while you get older. You have to stay active. I might not have a hitch in my giddy up like I used to but I can still move around pretty good. I really advocate for people to eat healthy.