After retiring from teaching 5th and 6th graders at Mar Vista in Aptos, Yvonne King knew she wanted to give back to the community she loves. A friend invited her to try volunteering at Grey Bears, packing the thousands of brown bags of fresh produce delivered each week to county seniors.
Then one day in 1999, a substitute driver was needed to drive a brown bag delivery route and Yvonne stepped up to help. She quickly discovered the joy of getting to know the many seniors who receive Grey Bears brown bags. The connections deepened when she took on a Live Oak route the last 15 years, where with help of her copilots, delivers bags of healthy groceries to 33 homebound recipients each week.
Though the seniors on her route have changed over the years, the level of caring and commitment she gives to each delivery has not. Yvonne enjoys visiting with everyone on her route, including, Marge, a retired nurse who has outlived the rest of her family.
“I’ve been carrying a birthday card around for a month for Marge whose turning 96,” Yvonne laughs, “I didn’t want to forget to give it to her.”
Though Marge’s hearing and vision have declined, Yvonne says she is as sharp and witty as ever. “She leaves the door open every Friday morning, sitting right in front of it to welcome us in. She calls us ‘icing on the cake’ because we know how much Marge loves chocolate, so we’ll slip some into her bag.”
Building trust between driver and participant may take time. One person would only open the door a crack when Yvonne first started delivering to her. It took nearly a year for her to open up, and now the two share a warm relationship. Now she comes out as soon as Yvonne arrives to choose the loaf of bread she’d like. Another felt safe enough to call Grey Bears for help when her sweater was stuck in her wheel chair. Without hesitation Yvonne went to help because that is just the person she is. “It’s not a big deal for us to go back to her house, but it was a huge deal for her as she could have been stuck for hours.”
Yvonne gives so much more than volunteer time; she gives from her heart because she truly cares about serving others. “It works both ways,” she reflects. “We get to know so many interesting people who have lived fascinating lives. The food we bring is essential; the joy we share is the icing on the cake.”
Yvonne is being recognized with a “Be the Difference Award” from the Volunteer Center on October 10, 2019 at the Coconut Grove in Santa Cruz.