Person of the Week
Lourdes Rojas: Changing the Mood Through Helping Others
Clinton resident Lourdes Rojas has dedicated time to her senior neighbors through the Clinton Community Assistance Team, among many other volunteer roles. (Photo courtesy of Lourdes Rojas)
Earlier this summer Clinton started a new program aimed at helping seniors’ citizens with easy tasks around the house by utilizing volunteers. One of the first volunteers to sign up was Lourdes Rojas.
The program, called Clinton Community Assistance Team (C-CAT), is managed by the Police Department and made possible in conjunction with a Manchester-based service called U R Community Cares, Clinton Human Services, the Clinton Rotary Club, Clinton Families Helping Families, and People’s United Bank. The program aims to help those 65 and older or those who have disabilities.
“The people who developed the program found that there were many seniors in communities who are by themselves because they’re family moved away or for whatever reason and they need help,” Lourdes explained. “We help with things like yardwork or housework, companionship, or driving them around for errands,” says Lourdes.
Interested seniors can sign up at www.urcommunitycares.org. Click on the “Sign Up” button to begin the enrollment process. Once a person is signed up, when they say they need help with something, it will register with one of the C-CAT volunteers. The volunteers will be able to see who needs help and with what, then provide aid if they are available. Volunteers are able to pick and choose when they are able to help.
“The flexibility is the best part for volunteers. Some clubs require you to go to meetings and become officers, but this is great for people who just enjoy volunteering,” said Lourdes.
Lourdes joined the program about two months ago and is quick to note that both the volunteers and the seniors undergo background checks to ensure the safety of all involved. Right now, Lourdes volunteers once a week with one senior who she affectionately calls “Ms. Patricia.” Lourdes spends time with her doing what she has termed Ladies Night Out.
“I meet with her and we do errands and go shopping and we make it fun,” explains Lourdes.
To raise more awareness for the event and to compensate for seniors who are less technology proficient, sign up events are being planned in person to raise participation in the service.
Volunteering, and specifically volunteering with seniors, is nothing new for Lourdes.
“In college was probably where it started,” Lourdes explains about her volunteerism.
While attending the University of Alabama, Lourdes would visit with seniors, which was an experience that left an impression.
“I have a soft spot for seniors. I think they’re knowledgeable and they’re full of stories,” says Lourdes.
That soft spot has continued to today.
“Even when I have a bad day at work and then I go to take out Patricia after and we just have fun...I realize my whole mood is changed,” says Lourdes.
Lourdes says the fact that seniors have spent a lifetime building the communities around then and making them what they are in the present is part of what makes helping them so special.
“You hear what they’ve been through or how they developed as a person and you might hear they have similar experiences you can related to,” explains Lourdes.
Helping Clinton’s seniors isn’t the only venture Lourdes is involved in. She’s also been involved with the Shoreline Community Women since 2012 and has served as president of the group. She’s also in her sixth year as a member of the Connecticut Junior Women. With the groups, Lourdes says she helps put together care packages for soldiers, does art projects of for seniors ad kids, and participates in civic events like Christmas in Clinton.
For work, Lourdes is a museum assistant of invertebrate zoology at the Peabody Museum. In her role, she helps catalog the museums specimen collections and also loans out samples to scientists doing studies.
“I’ve always been interested in science,” says Lourdes.
Lourdes grew up in Miami but has called Connecticut home since she got a job at the Peabody Museum. She has lived in Clinton since 2007. In her spare time Lourdes can be found outdoors doing activities like kayaking or hiking.
“I have a goal of hiking at least one trail in every town in Connecticut,” Lourdes said.
Since that goal was set in December 2019, Lourdes has hiked 116 trails in 86 towns, which comes out to 432 miles.
Another hobby Lourdes enjoys is seeing the civic events around Clinton and the joy they bring people.
“I like any community event that brings people together, specifically Christmas in Clinton,” says Lourdes. “For that day, everyone forgets about whatever is going on at home and is excited about seeing friends and family.”
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