“I love this area!” says Vanette. She and her husband, David, have been coming here since the late 1990s. A time-share in Red River and an AirStream camper ensured that. “The people are wonderful.”
For the last few years, Vanette Harris has been volunteering with the Questa Del Rio News as our subscription manager and a writer, about her adventurous experiences “in the wild.” As the newspaper’s subscription manager, she coordinates both digital subscriptions and the hard-copy mailings that arrive in readers’ mailboxes in multiple states.
When the Questa Del Rio News decided to have a booth at the Questa Crafts & Collectibles Market on Saturdays this summer, she was asked to man the booth once a month. She and David enthusiastically agreed and enjoy the social aspects of interacting with the community. Her work with the paper has been extremely helpful and very much appreciated.
During the summer, this youthful 75-year-old lady from Louisiana also assists an 80-something-year-old lady with disabilities in our area. Vanette takes her shopping, helps manage her mail, helps her with computer communications, and a variety of other tasks. Vanette also provides warm friendship, a willing smile, and genuine, caring conversation.
I wondered, as Vanette spoke, how many people in those moments need help or were helping others? Maybe you are on one side of the equation? These days helping others is needed more than ever. When I was growing up, we raked the elder neighbor’s yard and shoveled her snow, and my young children did the same for our elderly neighbors. Nowadays the needs seem more substantial. Autumn leaves and snowstorms do not present the same demands as grocery shopping, cleaning a house, cooking a healthy meal, or hanging out for companionship with someone who has no one left in this world and is lonely. Vanette is an example of a demographic of elders who help elders. Throughout my interview with Vanette, her ease and joy bubbled.
When Vanette and her husband retired, they decided to sell their home and most of their worldly possessions. They bought an RV and became part of the greater nomad community. With helpful hints from other Airstreamers, they fixed up a 1977 AirStream camper and hit the road. Lafayette, Louisiana faded in the rearview mirror.
In traveling about to different places, Vanette and David realized how much they enjoyed the Red River area, so they thought about part-time work there. This would also establish roots for part of each year. They had a time-share condo at Caribel Condominiums, were familiar with the complex, and knew the owners, so they inquired about working there part-time. Lo and behold, Vanette, retired educator, started working in the office, and David, retired interior designer, took up laundry and associated tasks. “I’m still working with fabrics!” David says, chuckling.
Volunteering for her church back in Lafayette was part of Vanette’s life for decades. As our conversation completed, the ever present need for generosity in the form of action for others arose in my mind. I thought, together all needs can be met. How cool is that?