Terrace volunteer Paul Rappolt honoured for work in community

Local volunteer Paul Rappolt was honoured on May 13 at the Service Awards for Geriatric Excellence (SAGE) in Niagara Falls.

SAGE is a unique program that celebrates the outstanding contributions of individuals and organizations committed to providing the highest quality of care to older adults in communities to ensure they can age with optimal health, independence and dignity.

Rappolt was nominated by Wellington Terrace Long Term Care Home in the volunteer category.

Nominations were received from six regions across Southern Ontario (Hamilton, Niagara, Haldimand-Norfolk, Waterloo, Wellington-Dufferin and Halton).

Rappolt was introduced into Wellington Terrace in November 2011 when a resident with a developmental delay and mental health diagnosis came to live at the home. This resident has no family but was supported by a community of caring individuals in Fergus for many years who would gently support him by chatting in the street or inviting him for Sunday dinner.

Rappolt, a general contractor, took an interest in this resident and he began to allow him to attend job sites with him.

They would drink coffee together and chat about the day. Rappolt would find small jobs on the site that this resident could help with (e.g. plugging in extension cords, unloading tools and scrutinizing Rappolt’s work).

Rappolt knows first-hand the importance of giving an individual a sense of purpose and meaning.

The relationship progressed over time from being a friend to an advocate. He took on the role of educating individuals in the community and on work sites about mental health and the gentle persuasion approach. Paul has also attended care conferences and countless dental appointments with this resident.

“On behalf of Wellington Terrace, I would like to congratulate Paul on this great honour,” said Laura Holtom, Wellington Terrace administrator. “He is most deserving of this recognition and we are very fortunate to have him as part of the Wellington Terrace community.”

Always soft spoken, humble and wise, Rappolt has been the one constant in this resident’s tumultuous life, officials say.

Rappolt is a shining example of how taking an interest in an individual can change someone’s life forever.