Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Changing of the Guard

Milt Felsenfeld dedicated over a decade of his life to volunteer work at the Council on Aging.  When asked Milt described his role as an Ombudsman as “an advocate for the elderly”.  As an Ombudsman, he advocated for some of the most vulnerable people in our community – seniors residing in long term care homes.  In Milt’s words: “I never left a client without making them smile. That’s what I did best – I made people smile. I cried when they smiled.  That’s what being an Ombi was.”

Stan and Milt-2

Today, Milt finds himself on hospice and a resident of a long term care home – a fate that none of us really plan on, but some of us will one day face.  In Milt’s thinking though, he is now “in God’s waiting room” and he’s happy about that!  Milt still extends his compassion and caring – and love – not only to his fellow residents and the staff, but also to the lucky volunteer who is now Milt’s Ombudsman, Stan Woll.  Milt has been a true mentor to Stan and the two have developed a great friendship.  Stan shared this when asked what Milt taught him about being an Ombi:  “Milt remembers his work so fondly. I’ve learned how much joy there is in being an Ombudsman.”

Last week, I visited with these two wonderful men and Milt’s wife of 69 years, Bea. I wanted to spend some time in the presence of people who really seem to have gotten it right.  The day I visited was actually moving day for Milt and Bea. The Felsenfelds were moving to a much smaller long term care home that would be better suited for their current needs.  This meant though that Milt would be leaving Stan’s assigned home and be under the watchful eye of a new Ombudsman.

We chatted for awhile.  We smiled.  We laughed – a lot.  And then Milt asked me to go get his well worn black Ombudsman hat from the other room.  Amidst stacks of boxes and bags ready for the impending move, I found the hat still resting on a shelf in a place of honor. Milt proudly put the hat on and grinned broadly.  And then he removed it, and placed his hat on Stan’s head.  Milt said that in the new place he wouldn’t need his Ombudsman hat anymore.  Stan hesitated, but he understood.  We all understood.  The Ombudsman torch had now been passed.

Thank you, Stan and Milt for being the perfect reminder of what life is all about – compassion, caring, and love for everyone – especially for those who need us most.

Tricia Homrighausen
Development and Community Manager