Facing the trials of isolation and the loss of her cherished hobby after a debilitating accident, Victoria found renewed hope and purpose in her life when a phone call from a Meals on Wheels People volunteer inspired her to pick up her crochet hook again.
Victoria has been out of her house only twice in the past 10 years. She broke her neck in a fall and sustained nerve damage that left her hands numb.
“One day, you’re walking around, and then the next you’re doing nothing but trying to sit up straight,” says Victoria, 74, who was a purchasing agent for Dow Chemical until she had to retire after the accident.
No longer able to cook, she signed up for Meals on Wheels People. But she also wasn’t able to crochet — something that she’s loved to do since she was a young girl. Each intricate loop was a testament to her patience and skill. Her creations were her pride, tokens of her love she’d give away as gifts. It wasn’t just a hobby for her; it was a part of her identity.
“It made me feel useful,” she says. “Crochet was always my go-to thing when I wanted to do something or feel like I was contributing. What’s my purpose here now?” she started to ask.
Her spirit, once so vibrant and lively, seemed to shrink day by day. Her life felt limited to a routine of meals, medication, and countless hours staring at the same four walls of her home. With the weight of her disability and isolation pulling her down, Victoria was drowning in a sea of despair.
One day when she was feeling particularly low, her phone rang. Meals on Wheels People volunteer Nancy Williams was on the other end of the line.
A New Beginning
Nancy was adjusting to life by herself after her husband died in 2019. When she saw a commercial for MOWP’s Friendly Chats program in November 2020, she signed up. The first person she connected with, an older gentleman, reminded her so much of her own father that it broke down barriers and created a moment of genuine, joyful connection.
“I don’t remember what he said, but it was like exactly something my dad, who is 91, says to me,” she recalls. “I said: ‘You know, my dad and I just had that same conversation last night. I know I’m not your daughter, but I’m going to tell you what I told my dad.’ He stated laughing: ‘That’s what my daughter told me.’ It was such as wonderful experience.”
Nancy has been making Friendly Chats calls once a week since. “I get so much out of it,” she says.
Each week, Nancy speaks with someone new. They talk about their passions, she hears their stories, she shares her own. “It feels like the slightest little things like that make somebody feel a little more connected and like somebody cares,” she says. “Even if it’s not a long conversation, I want them to know that I care.”
The Call That Changed Everything
When Victoria answered the phone, Nancy could tell right away that she wasn’t having a good day. She asked her about her interests, and Victoria, of course, talked about crocheting. Nancy knits, and soon, “We were laughing about our yarn stashes,” Nancy says.
Nancy could sense a spark in Victoria’s voice that had been missing. She suggested some different techniques and tools that might help Victoria pick up her crochet hook again.
“She really took time with me,” Victoria says. “By the time she was done, I felt like I had to go pick up the thread again.”
It was a short phone call, maybe 15 minutes, but Victoria says it changed everything. Today, she is on the eighth row in a new crochet project. “I may only do a stitch or two at a time, but I can still do it,” she says. “I was ready to give up. I thought it was over. She saved me that day. It really brought life into my life.”
Become a Friendly Chats Volunteer
Are you interested in chatting with your aging neighbors? Our Friendly Chat volunteer opportunities are Monday through Thursday, and calls can be made anytime from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. If you are interested in signing up or would like more information, register for an online orientation or email our team at [email protected].