Joan Alfieri (1999)

Disclaimer: The following was transcribed from an article in the Capper Foundation Archives. The choice of words used at the time this was written may not reflect current Capper Foundation inclusive language and views.

Joan Alfieri (1999)

“When you volunteer at Capper, you directly impact a child’s Life.”

It’s a typical Tuesday afternoon at the Capper Foundation. What’s typical? “There is no typical day at The Capper Foundation,” says Jeanette Walters, the organization’s volunteer coordinator for the past 11 years. “Every day is varied.”

The mission of The Capper Foundation is to enhance the independence of people with physical disabilities, primarily children.

Joan  Alfieri – The  Exception. Joan Alfieri has been a volunteer at The Capper Foundation on Tuesday afternoons for the past five years. Her weekly presence is the exception to daily variation. Handling a number of “behind-the-scenes, odds-and-ends” tasks, Alfieri does not work directly with the children. On any given Tuesday, she may be found erasing computer disks, repairing books, or preparing items for therapists to use with the children.

“My job is always hectic,” says Waters.  “The fun time is the one-on-one sharing with the volunteers. I always look forward to Tuesdays. Joan is always upbeat and positive irrespective of what’s going on. She’s willing to do whatever I need done even if it’s something different than planned.”

Alfieri, who suffers from Lupus and arthritis, says that sometimes she’s in a lot of pain. “I enjoy smiling a lot. Smiling gives the feeling that everything is all right.”

Swimming Opportunities. The Capper Foundation has 412 volunteers – approximately 8 percent are persons over age 55 – that contributed 8,452 service hours in 1998.

Water therapy, a daytime volunteer opportunity, is popular with senior citizens. “Seniors that have had hip replacement surgery or suffer from arthritis and bursitis typically enjoy water therapy,” says Waters. Orthopedic surgeons and physicians design water  programs for the children. Because volunteers work one-on-one with the children, the physicians also design the therapy programs to be beneficial to the volunteers. “From September through May, we are always in need of volunteers to assist the children in the pool.

A large number of volunteers also help with the recreation program from 3:30-8:00 p.m., assisting approximately 100 children per day. Within the pre-school and infant-toddler program, 50 children are served on a daily, year-round basis.

Future Goals. “We have a waiting list in every area right now,” says Waters, “What we will attempt to do is prioritize the best ways that we can meet the needs that we’re not meeting.” Plans are underway to open a nursery for infants with disabilities in the fall of 2000.