When 12-year-old Matthew Moore walked through the doors of the Bethesda Southgate during the summer of 2011, he didn’t know what to expect. He had just completed sixth grade and became a volunteer at a skilled nursing home community as part of a service program through his school for the summer.
“I was really nervous,” he says, thinking back to that summer. “I’d not dealt with a person in a wheelchair, and I knew I had a lot to learn.”
Fortunately, Matthew had some willing teachers. “The Bethesda Southgate staff were eager to help me with every question I had,” he says.
Matthew became known as the “Monday Man.” His Monday duties included transporting patients to physical therapy and then back to their rooms when their therapy was completed. While the patients were in therapy, he exercised along with them and encouraged them to keep working.
His afternoons were spent helping with Mass, followed by recreational activities and exercise. “We’d play games and drink orange juice,” he says. A redheaded kid with an easy smile, everyone he worked with knew he was eager to be involved and was patient and compassionate with residents, family, and staff.
The Bethesda Southgate staff was thankful to have him for that summer but did not expect him to continue volunteering — especially for the next six summers! “Even when I didn’t need the community service hours, I wanted to be there,” Matthew says. “I felt like they were part of my family, and I just couldn’t stop coming back.”
If you ask him for a favorite story from his summers as a volunteer at the skilled nursing home community, he won’t be able to pick just one. “Every day was a good story,” he says. However, he does recall one resident; a woman with whom he had long, memorable chats. “We talked about life—about how she decided on her career and where she had traveled during her life,” Matthew says.
He had only one goal: “I wanted to put a smile on their faces. That gave me joy.” He also believes he is a much happier and more outgoing person as a result of his volunteer work at Bethesda Southgate.
Today, Matthew is a student at Southeast Missouri State University, but he hasn’t forgotten his “family” at Bethesda Southgate.
“I’m coming back this summer,” he says.
Dedicated and energetic volunteers are always welcome at Bethesda. For more information on becoming a volunteer at a skilled nursing or senior living communities or with our community-based services, please contact us.