You helped Harold feel loved at Buena Vista.
My name is Harold Leslie and I’m 74 yrs old. Born in Nashville, TN but moved to Saginaw, Michigan with my mother and brother when I was 3 yrs old. As I teenager, I watched my older brother join the army, so my junior year of high school, I tried to follow in his footsteps and join the service. My mom refused to sign for the army, but eventually I joined the navy. After basic training, I went straight to Vietnam and served in the navy for three years and three months as a cook and baker.
When I left the navy, I tried to find a job as a baker, but no one would hire me because they said it would be different cooking as a civilian. It was really discouraging. I worked at Chrysler for a little while, but when I separated from my wife, I moved to Illinois to work as a baker for Sara Lee for a few years before traveling to and spending time in a few other states. When my mother got sick, I came back to be her primary caregiver until she passed away in 2013.
During the 10 years I was here, I was able to love of cooking and baking for family get-togethers and holidays. I was known as “The Cake Man” to my family and friends because they could always count on me to make a lot of cakes for birthdays, anniversaries, showers, and stuff like that. I don’t do as much cooking anymore, but still cook for myself. I have some health concerns, so I’ve learned to cook healthier for a healthier life.
My oldest son who’s passed away now, lived in Detroit and used to work for VOAMI for a while. He was working at the Detroit Veterans Housing Program. He was so proud to serve veterans like me. I was able to visit while he was working there and meet his “guys” as he called them, and it was a wonderful experience. That’s when I learned about VOAMI.
I’ve been a resident of Buena Vista Senior Community for five years now and I feel like I’m thriving. I enjoy the weekly activities, bowling, and after two total knee replacements, I have a safe, warm place to go for my morning and afternoon fitness walks. I always know it will be a good day when I fill my morning with scriptures and my walks.
I try to encourage people and motivate people here when I can. My mom always said, “If you do good, good will follow you,” so I try to motivate other residents to walk with me and improve their health.
I did have a chance to break out my chef’s coat here about four years ago. I made my catfish nuggets and I think they were a hit. Everyone was licking their fingers!
You know, it’s hard to find affordable housing with good people. I was in another senior citizen building before I came to VOAMI and the difference between that one and this one is night and day! It was a blessing when I left that other place and came here to Buena Vista. The management here is wonderful; Ms. Patterson and Margo, they give you all the help that you can imagine. If someone else were thinking about moving here, I’d tell them, “Do it, it’s a smart decision.”
Harold and other residents just like him have found a comfortable home and a sense of family and community with Volunteers of America Michigan. It’s so important to provide a stable home base for our neighbors and to support each other through the ups and downs we all experience in our lives. That’s what VOAMI is here to do…to love and serve others.