Martha and Phil Boadt were seeking a volunteer opportunity that would allow them a flexible schedule during the six months they live in Las Vegas, and would excuse their absence each summer when they return to their native Michigan for some lakeside living. Since 2011, the Boadts have volunteered at Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, relishing their role as “fill-in replacements” for regularly scheduled volunteers who become ill or take a vacation.
“I enjoy meeting and greeting patients and caregivers,” says Phil Boadt, a chemical engineer and retired laboratory and operations manager in the paint industry. “I see so many patients with a wonderful attitude, and find it amazing they can put on a bright face and crack jokes given the challenging diseases they live with.”
Perhaps he shouldn’t be surprised, given that his wife displays that same upbeat attitude while managing her own muscular dystrophy. Although Martha Boadt has retired from teaching, she doesn’t let leg braces slow her down. She enthusiastically volunteers and attends educational events at the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, cooks gourmet meals to entertain friends, kayaks and hosted family members — who totaled 13, including children, spouses and grandchildren — on a 2014 Alaskan cruise to celebrate the Boadts’ 50th wedding anniversary.
“When we started volunteering, we were the exception: We didn’t have any personal connection to the brain conditions treated at the center,” Mr. Boadt recalls. “More recently, a close friend was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. He has declined so quickly, and is really our impetus for continuing to volunteer.”
While thanking patients for their visit with a flower, Mr. Boadt enjoys asking about their experiences. He almost invariably hears how doctors “treated them as a human being and didn’t talk down to them,” while family caregivers “appreciate how well their loved one has been treated.”
The couple has gotten to know many patients, particularly those who come a few times a week for physical therapy. “It’s really neat to see how many have shown such dramatic improvement,” says Mr. Boadt.
“Cleveland Clinic doesn’t leave you hanging after an appointment,” Mrs. Boadt says. “They give you resources and take it to the next level, inviting patients, family and the community to classes, the library, lectures and support groups to meet other people in the same situation.” As someone managing her own neurological disease, she appreciates these amenities.
Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health offers a variety of volunteer opportunities. Please contact Karen Mariano at 702.331.7046 or firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.