Born and raised in Wisconsin, Cory O’Meara graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science. After moving to Washington DC, where she met her naval service husband, her boomerang journey around the US started. Every two or more years the family, including their daughter and son, moved from Albuquerque, New Mexico, around the US and back. Despite the regular upheaval, Cory speaks very fondly of her years on the move. “We have enjoyed it, with the best part being the opportunity to live in and explore different places from mountains, deserts and oceans to lakes. There are nice people everywhere; that’s the joy of travelling,” she explains.
Six years ago, when Cory moved to Redondo Beach, she started looking around to see which organizations were looking for volunteers. Cory was drawn to BCHD by the variety of activities across all ages and areas of the community, from school events to supporting seniors. She soon started as an Errand Volunteer for a local lady named Pat, who’s in her 80s.
Prior to Covid-19, each week Cory took Pat out on various errands. Despite her age, Pat is still the resident manager of her apartment building, so she often had to go to the hardware store for some random tool or part that she needs for her work. Because of Covid-19, in order to stay safe, Cory hasn’t been able to take Pat out since early March, but goes and does the shopping for her.
Cory describes Pat as a very vibrant and independent person. “Each week we used to do all the errands and then if we have time, we’d stop off for a Wienerschnitzel hot dog!”
Not a week used to go by without Pat surprising Cory with her lively torrent of chatter. “She has clearly had a full, exciting youth with so many adventures from California to Alaska, including things that back then, not many women did, including building her own house”, explains Cory.
These times are those that Cory enjoys the most. As a Librarian, pre-Covid-19 she used to give up a lot of her time and skills to Manhattan Beach Middle School, but she also cherishes her times with Pat where she could just sit back and absorb all Pat’s stories.
“I love Pat dearly and call her my “Pitty Pat.” Despite the need to respect the line between supporting people and being their friend, when you have the pleasure of spending time with someone like Pat, it’s hard not to develop a wonderful friendship.”
Of-course the feelings are mutual. Pat describes Cory as “the poster woman of a helper - one in in a million – kind, smart and funny – just 100 per cent.” She’s certainly all of those!
Cory’s advice to other people considering volunteering is to get the match right! “Before you start volunteering really think about what you want to get out of it and be honest; that’s key. Once life returns to normality, the amazing BCHD team will work hard to make volunteering a positive experience for everyone.”
Interested in supporting residents like Cory does? While we are not on-boarding any new volunteers at this time, we still want to be able to connect when we can! For more information and to apply, visit www.bchd.org/volunteer.
Written by Sue Murray, Volunteer Spotlight Writer