Longtime Grand Forks residents Adele and Denny Laudal fill their lives with interesting activities and the people who mean the most to them. Adele, a former school psychologist with Grand Forks Public Schools, indulges her interests in music and art.
“I play the flute in the Second Wind Band, which practices twice a week and holds several concerts, mostly in nursing homes and assisted living facilities,” Adele says. “I’ve also taken oil painting classes, which has been a lot of fun. Finally, I volunteer with the American Red Cross and have done a variety of church activities.”
Denny worked at the Energy & Environmental Research Center in Grand Forks for 37 years. These days, he helps out at the Empire Arts Center and studies the rich history of America’s pastime.
“One of my major hobbies is baseball research, particularly baseball prior to 1900,” Denny says. “I regularly attend meetings of the Society for American Baseball Research at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York.”
One of the Laudals’ favorite mutual pastimes is spending time with their six grandchildren, who range in age from 6 months to 18 years old. Another is they both volunteer at Altru.
Finding the Perfect Volunteer Fit at Altru
Adele and Denny took mostly different paths in their Altru volunteer journey. Adele led the way. Shortly after retiring in 2007, she began volunteering at the Altru Alliance Gift Shop.
“I got interested in volunteering because some friends volunteered in the gift shop, and it sounded like fun,” Adele says. “I find it to be quite different from and less stressful than my job in education. I hadn’t worked in retail in the past. I enjoy selling things and setting up displays.”
During her weekly half-day shifts, Adele often works the cash register. Sometimes, she arranges displays, prices items or replaces ones that have been sold. Her volunteer duties are quite different from her husband’s.
Denny retired seven years after Adele. He decided to join her in volunteering in the gift shop, but it wasn’t the place for him.
“After about a year, I decided that my personality was more attuned to being an ambassador,” Denny says. “That way, I’d have more interaction with people, which I enjoy.”
These days, Denny serves two half-day shifts as an ambassador at the Altru Professional Center. He greets patients and family members and helps them get where they need to go. That may involve providing directions or arranging for a wheelchair and escorting a patient to his or her appointment. Even after volunteering for years, Denny says he’s still amazed by the pleasantness of the patients and visitors he meets, even though many would likely rather not be at a medical appointment.
Altru Volunteers are Happy to Help
Adele and Denny serve in different roles, but they both find making connections with people the best part of their experience.
“I most enjoy helping customers find what they need,” Adele says. “It’s fun when we get new items to unpack, price and display. Sometimes, just moving an item to a different spot makes a difference. Occasionally, we meet people we know in the shop. Other times, we may talk to someone who’s having a difficult time with a friend or family member who’s in the hospital, and we just listen. That is, often, what people need.”
Adele is no stranger to health challenges. A breast cancer survivor, she found support from her fellow volunteers and the hospital staff during a difficult time in her life. She says volunteering is a great way to help people while also staying social.
Denny agrees. He enjoys meeting and talking with people and praises the Altru employees he’s met over the years as “wonderful to work with.” Denny also relishes the challenge of helping visitors find their way.
“It always surprises me when I ask visitors, ‘What department are you going to?’ or ‘What doctor are you seeing?’ and they don’t know,” he says. “The job sometimes means I have to be a bit of a detective.”
Denny intends to continue his good-natured sleuthing for as long as he’s needed and his health allows. The same goes for Adele—and she encourages others to consider volunteering at Altru.
“There are many worthwhile opportunities for volunteering in our community,” Adele says. “If you enjoy being in a medical setting, or simply like interacting with a variety of people, there are several volunteer activities and positions at Altru that are satisfying and can bring cheer into people’s lives.”
Interested in volunteering at Altru? Check out available opportunities and fill out an application.