Salinas, CA, July 20, 2020 -“If God lets me live … I shall not remain insignificant. I shall work in the world and for mankind.”
Frank, of course, fell victim to the Holocaust, but she fulfilled that destiny posthumously through her book “The Diary of Anne Frank.” Sapien made it through her surgery following a terrible stroke, and wanted to spend her time making life better for others.
“In no way do I put myself in the category of Ann Frank,” she said. “Her words are so powerful. They reminded me, though, that I needed to do whatever I could to make a bit of difference.”
Sapien eventually became a volunteer at VNA, helping the nonprofit achieve its ultimate goal — to provide care in an ethical, effective, compassionate and fiscally responsible manner.
Sapien’s surgery became an important turning point in her life.
“I was so scared all I could do was pray,” she said. “I asked God to help me make it through this, and I promised that I would find something I could do with my time to help or benefit others.”
Although she recovered from the surgery in 2006, she suffered a stroke three years later, and her left hand suffered partial paralysis. That forced her to give up her love of cutting hair as owner-stylist at Hair Unlimited in Salinas.
She found herself with lots of free time, joining various community service organizations in an attempt to find her niche.
Then her mother was diagnosed with cancer. She wanted to stay at home, and Connie and her sister were able to fulfill that wish for her, eventually turning to VNA and Hospice.
“I saw how great the nurses were at providing my mom with a service we couldn’t provide,” she said. “We were so thankful to VNA.”
Because Sapien had never worked in the medical field, she had no idea she could volunteer her time for VNA. She quickly learned that VNA volunteers did a wide variety of tasks.
“I started by doing respite care, light housekeeping and companionship,” she said.
Because of her hand, Sapien had not cut anyone else’s hair (besides her own) since her retirement. “I wanted to try cutting someone else’s hair but found it challenging because some of the patients could not get out of bed.”
She worked with VNA nurses and caregivers to effectively prop up the patients into a sitting position, allowing her to work around her partial paralysis. “This took lots of pillows, but we managed,” she said. “The easy ones were the patients who could sit in a wheelchair.”
Suddenly, Sapien had found the best of two worlds.
“I could continue to use my talent, also socializing with patients and their caregivers,” she said. “I love making people feel good, by looking good. That is the best medicine.”
Sapien keeps busy in her life, especially when it comes to cooking, gardening and dancing. “I love any form of exercise, yoga and aerobics,” she said. “Presently I practice Zumba.”
For VNA, Sapien schedules as many patients in one day as possible, traveling all over Monterey County — from Carmel Valley to Hollister — to share her talents and compassion.
“Everyone I have met at VNA is a kind, loving caring human being,” she said. “The patients, especially the elderly, are in so much need of a visit, a touch or companionship because a lot of them have no family close by.”
VNA provides medical attention and the volunteers help with special tender loving care.
“I am so proud to be a member of the volunteer team,” said Sapien, who encourages people she meets to try and find an area in VNA Hospice where they can contribute to helping the elderly.
“There are great rewards when you know you have made someone comfortable and happy,” she said. “Their smiles are worth millions. I promise, your life will be enriched tremendously.”
For more information about VNA, visit www.ccvna.com.
Marci Bracco Cain
Salinas, CA 93901