October 6, 2005
Tifton - A government study reveals news that many people may not want to know. If you make it to age 65, you have a 40% chance of living in a nursing home. And 60% of those people will not have any visitors.
One lady doesn't intend for those statistics to come true.
Sometimes an angel doesn't have wings, but quietly walks in and helps the needy. "Morning everybody," says Flavel Tawzer, who spreads joy wherever she goes.
"I get more love than I give," says Flavel, as she sits at a round table as nursing home residents roll in. She gives a lot of her time visiting with them every Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings, for the past six years, almost without fail.
"I doubt that I've missed more than a half a dozen," says Flavel who has made about 929 visits to the same nursing home. "Your arithmetic is OK," Flavel says with a twinkle in her eye.
Flavel, her name comes from a character in a book her mother read, spreads sunshine wherever she goes. "We play here in here, you know, and have a good time," says Flavel just before she leads them in singing "Amazing Grace."
The residents and Flavel have a concert three times a week, no song book needed. Several couldn't read the words anyway because of vision problems. "Sing the old timey church songs," says Flavel.
Many of them have sung the songs over and over, and know the words from memory. It makes you wonder why an active person like Flavel Tawzer would volunteer so much of her time.
She visited family members in the nursing home for 30 years to see her mother, brother and sister. One day a staff member noticed Flavel had a special gift and asked her if she would volunteer to help out. "I saw compassion, love and caring in Ms. Flavel," says Valeta Stone, who directed activities at the nursing home.
And, as it's often said, the rest in history, with at least 929 examples of giving of her time. Each one of Flavel's visits follows a tried and true format, the patriotic part, "Ok, everybody find your heart,"says Flavel just before she leads them in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Then, they sing the National Anthem, followed by Flavel's daily devotional and sing another song. She spends about an hour with them. The nursing home staff sees the residents benefiting from her visits.
"They eat better, sleep better. They are happier overall. I think it extends their lives," says Gail Richards, the assistant administrator.
Would such a dedicated a volunteer mind living in a nursing home one day? "I'm glad we have nursing homes. You can find a lot of love and friendship here," says Flavel, who vividly remembers when elderly parents were often forgotten by their busy children, even though they lived under one roof.
She does more than her part giving love and friendship, all from a lady who hasn't forgotten people often forgotten. Flavel Tawzer has no intention of stopping her visits, saying the residents are her brothers and sisters.