Emerald Meadows Book Club highlight of volunteer’s week

Emerald Meadows Book Club volunteer stands with young child

Michelle Oesch, an Emerald Meadows Book Club volunteer, is pictured here with one of her grandchildren.

Long before the Emerald Meadows Book Club, Michelle Oesch’s grandson had a kidney transplant in Chicago, and she and her family stayed at the Ronald McDonald House. She found out that it was staffed largely by volunteers, and that the company had to turn volunteers away.

“That always stuck with me,” she said. “The importance of volunteering, and the dedication people have to something that matters to them.”

Michelle’s volunteering is also a picture of dedication. She came to Emerald Meadows 14 years ago to ask about a receptionist job. The job had already been filled.

“The administrator asked if I was interested in volunteering, and I said I’d love to.”

At that point, Michelle already had a long history with senior communities. Her mom had worked in a skilled nursing community for 20 years, and Michelle’s first job was also in senior living. She was thrilled when the opportunity became available to volunteer for the Emerald Meadows Book Club.

“Working with seniors and reading books? That’s my favorite combination!” she says.

“It’s just what I need.”–Emerald Meadows Book Club volunteer Michelle Oesch

In Book Club, residents choose a book, usually inspirational fiction with a touch of humor. Michelle will then read to the residents for about an hour each Monday. It’s given her a different perspective on the way she views that often-dreaded day of the week.

“I was finding that my Mondays used to be sad,” she says. “Now it’s my favorite day of the week. I love it.”

Michelle has always loved reading, and has read to her children and grandchildren, just like her mother used to read to her. Volunteering to read to another generation has been special for her.

“It’s been a blessing to me to put smiles on their faces,” she says. “I know it’s a bright spot in their day, but it’s also a bright spot for me. It’s just what I need.”

Michelle also likes to get to know the residents who aren’t in the Emerald Meadows Book Club. “I stop in the dining room and talk to the residents,” she says. “I love learning their life stories.”

Michelle finds special pleasure in working with people with memory issues. “They may not remember recent events, but they can remember their past, their stories about World War II or a favorite song from their childhood,” she says. “There are so many things that are neat about when people grew up, so I’m happy to listen to their stories. We have fun and laugh a little. I’m there for the people, whatever they need me for.”

Michelle is busy, even outside of the time she gives to Emerald Meadows. She’s the wife of a dairy and crop farmer, active in church and in spending time with her 14 grandchildren, and her mom is temporarily staying with her as she recovers from surgery. And she encourages all people, no matter how busy they may be, to give time to volunteering.

“I think volunteering gets you out of yourself, and your focus is on making others happy,” she says. “I know for me, it’s just what I need.”

To volunteer at Emerald Meadows, or any of our Providence Communities, click here, or go to www.VolunteerAtProvidence.com.