“We’re both free spirits,” says Jodee Thelen, a long-time ElderFriends volunteer. “We communicate with nature and music and we both love riding bikes.”
Jodee’s kindred spirit is Constance Griffin, “Sparrow” to her friends. The last surviving sibling of a large family, she now lives alone. Sparrow had her first ElderFriend in 2006, when she was seeking new friends and an expanded support system. Connecting with ElderFriends’ friendly visitors helps her ward off loneliness. She says, “Life is so much better since I’ve known ElderFriends.” She’s also enjoyed holiday visits as part of ElderFriends’ holiday meal deliveries.
Last Thanksgiving, Jodee Thelen delivered a meal to Sparrow, and they discovered that they shared a spirit of adventure, and love of nature and music. Shortly after the meal, they formalized their ElderFriends relationship and have continued to build their friendship throughout the year. “We hit it off from the start,” says Sparrow. “And our friendship gives me hope because I have something to look forward to. I know she’s there; I have someone who thinks about me.”
Their outings are eclectic, comprising a vast array of activities. In recent months, they attended the ElderFriends BBQ at Magnuson Park, and they also enjoyed the Seattle Symphony Day of Music, where they heard “a fabulous Native American flute player. I just closed my eyes and I was in the forest,” Sparrow recalls.
“We both love the outdoors,” Jodee says, “And Sparrow was even part of a small group that pedaled bikes to Alaska over six weeks. She was in her fifties then; that really inspires me.”
Jodee is currently inspired to help Sparrow acquire a new, lightweight bicycle so that she can get around her neighborhood more easily and independently. Or sometimes, with a friend at her side.
Reprinted from Full Life Times Winter 2013-2014, with permission from Sparrow, Jodie and FullLifeCare.