A spotlight on one of Senior Day Services’ dedicated Senior Companions
Peggy Trently is a self-proclaimed “people person.” Her passion for reaching out to others in her community, especially the elderly, has led her to become one of Senior Day Services' Senior Companion volunteers. Whether she’s playing cards, fixing meals, or just listening to a client’s stories, Peggy says the connections she makes is what she cherishes most about the program.
Through Senior Companion program, Peggy and her fellow volunteers aged 55 and older visit older adults throughout Lackawanna County, providing companionship and assistance with everyday tasks, free of charge.* Below, Peggy shares how her sister inspired her to start volunteering, her favorite memory with a musically inclined client, and how she’s keeping her relationships with clients strong while facing the COVID-19 outbreak.When and why did you begin to volunteer with the companion program?
When and why did you begin volunteering with the program?
My sister called me one day and said she read something about Senior Day Services in the paper. She told me, “I think this would be good for you. God gave you this gift of helping the elderly, and I think you could do it here.” So, I called Senior Day Services and got the application. I still remember the first day of training—it was a cold, cold day in March. That was five years ago, and I’ve been here ever since!
What is your favorite part about being a senior companion?
Just going into the homes, talking with people, and listening to them. We laugh a lot and play lots of cards. There’s a husband and wife that I take care of, and I always make sure to interact with them both. If the husband and I are playing cards, I try to get the wife involved, too. I play cards with some of my other clients as well, and one woman really like to sit and talk. I currently have four clients, though at one time I had seven. I just love it.
What challenges have you encountered as a senior companion?
Just going to the home, talking with people, and listening to them. We laugh a lot and play lots of cards. There’s a husband and wife that I take care of, and I always make sure to interact with them both. If the husband and I are playing cards, I try to get the wife involved, too. I play cards with some of my other clients as well, and one woman really like to sit and talk. I currently have four clients, though at one time I had seven. I just love it.
Share a memorable moment from your time as a senior companion.
One of my clients, John, was a quiet man. He liked to stay indoors. One warm afternoon, I asked him, “John, would you like to come out and sit on the porch?” He agreed, so we went out and sat, and began to talk. I asked him if he had a favorite singer, and he said he loved Al Jolson. I told him that Al was before my time, but I got out my phone and I downloaded one of his songs. And when I began to play it, he actually started tapping his feet on the ground. It was so nice to see.
How has your past (personally and professionally) influenced the work you do as a senior companion?
My mother had lung cancer, and I lived with her and took care of her before her passing. Before this, I also worked with a nursing home for 12 or 13 years. Working with the elderly inspired me to get involved with Senior Day Services, along with the call from my sister. I’m also naturally a people person, and this program is great for that.
Where in Northeastern PA did you grow up?
I was born and raised in Scranton. I lived in Jermyn for a time, but I sold my house and now live in Park Gardens. I stayed in the area because people are so friendly here. I’m a people person and love the community.
Tell us about your family.
I come from a close-knit Irish Catholic family. My parents had eleven children, and I have four brothers and four sisters who live around the Scranton area.
Share a fun fact about yourself.
I have a good sense of humor!
Have you stayed connected with clients during the COVID-19 outbreak?
Yes, we call them twice a week and we often talk for an hour or more. I know they want me to come back—they miss me, and I miss them too! I hope to get back to them soon.
How would you encourage someone to volunteer with Senior Day Services?
If someone is interested in volunteering with the Senior Companion program, I’d tell them to call in and get the application to learn more. They give you weeks of training, so you’re prepared to work with the clients. This the best program I’ve ever been in; I worked all my life before retiring in 2002, and the Senior Companion program is much better than work!
*The Senior Companion program is free to residents of Lackawanna County