Volunteer Profile: Tori Romano

 In a sense, Tori Romano is working backwards.

The 17-year-old wants to become a pediatrician (“I love children”) but is getting her start in healthcare working with seniors.

A junior at Bishop Kearney High School, Tori volunteers at St. Ann’s Home, transporting residents to and from events in the auditorium and to Mass in the Chapel. But as with many volunteers, the job for her is more than just pushing wheelchairs.

“The first week I was here, I was transporting a woman and she said to me, ‘Do you want to hear about my life?’ I thought that was the sweetest thing ever!” she says. “I’m a good listener.”

The “people” part of the job is something Tori excels at. She can be found striking up a conversation with a resident one minute and swaying to live music with another the next.

“You can bring so much joy to a person in the smallest ways,” she says.

And the seniors she meets are far from what she expected before becoming a volunteer.

“I didn’t think they would be so lively,” she says. “I walked with a woman to church one day and found out she was 103. What?! She looks more like early 80s!

“You have this stereotype in your mind of the grouchy old person and you think you’re going to annoy them, but it’s not true. I enjoy talking to them and asking, ‘How’s your day?’ and they love it.”

Her ease in relating to older adults may have been inspired by her mother Kim and her aunt, a nurse. The sisters provided hospice care for their mother in her home when Tori was young.

“Tori would read and sing to her,” recalls Kim. “I think I got my strength from her and her brother (Jaccob) during that time.”

Tori is also a self-appointed recruiter for St. Ann’s. She’s gotten friends to become volunteers and is always encouraging others to do so. “They’re just not allowed to take my people!” she jokes, referring to a couple of residents she’s become especially close to.

Right now, she’s getting community service credit at school for her work at St. Ann’s. But she’s positive she’ll continue volunteering after she graduates.

“100% I will keep on doing this.”

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