Volunteers at the Aphasia Center are the lifeblood of our program.
Volunteers are challenged with jobs requiring specialized skills, hours of training and high levels of accountability. We utilize various tools and adaptations to create an environment that provides communication access and offers a holistic approach with the goal of helping people with aphasia re-engage in life. As a result, we ask our volunteers to make an uncommon commitment requiring an enormous degree of passion and dedication.
Having spent the past seven years as a program volunteer Marilyn Mathis has proven herself to be a rare treasure. As a retired school teacher, Marilyn began serving in our computer lab where she assists members in using aphasia-friendly software programs. Rarely absent, she consistently offers patience, kindness and support. She also acts as a conversation group facilitator and leader of our weekly Book Club. However, these duties are only the beginning. She can also be seen stuffing envelopes, pulling weeds, answering phones, working special events and performing a myriad of other humble tasks.
That being said, the greatest endorsement came in 2013 when along with others, Aphasia Center members nominated Marilyn for the Sweetheart Award – the most prestigious honor a volunteer can receive from the Center, and she won.
Though all the hours and tasks are invaluable, Marilyn’s biggest contribution is the lifeline she offers to Aphasia Center members who can no longer read or travel. As Book Club facilitator, Marilyn has become skilled at all the adaptive techniques necessary for people with aphasia to have an authentic conversation after listening to a good book. This skill, coupled with her passion and heart for those who know more than they can say, caused her to begin asking our members, many struggling with mobility, if they could go anywhere in the world, where would it be? One by one as they expressed the places they longed to see, she researched and came back with a way the group could virtually travel to their chosen destinations. She sparked conversation and connection, transporting people who could use a vacation off to the location of their dreams.
All of at the Aphasia Center of West Texas applaud Marilyn Mathis as winner of the Judge Pat Baskin 2015 Volunteer of the Year Award.