Katherine Fontenot gives candy to the bingo champion Katherine Scott at Magnolia Village Thursday. Fontenot has volunteered every week for four years at the assisted living facility. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)
Katherine Fontenot gives candy to the bingo champion Katherine Scott at Magnolia Village Thursday. Fontenot has volunteered every week for four years at the assisted living facility. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

Everyday Hero: ‘Patient’ volunteer looks out for Magnolia residents

Published 12:10am Friday, August 22, 2014

NATCHEZ — Katherine Fontenot knows she doesn’t have to perform a miracle to improve someone’s life.

The Natchez resident just needs to show up.

Fontenot volunteers every week, for four years, at Magnolia Village Assisted Living calling bingo for the residents.

“Most of the time volunteers would come in and call sometimes,” said Magnolia Village Executive Director Lisa Welch. “But we’ve never had someone like Ms. Katherine come and is that dedicated to it. She’s always here.”

Every Thursday, Fontenot goes to Magnolia and puts out the bingo mats, chips and prizes before calling out numbers for the seniors.

“She’s patient with us,” said Magnolia resident and bingo enthusiast Blake Wadsworth. “It’s understanding.”

Wadsworth said Fontenot speaks loudly, clearly and simply for bingo, and also in conversation.

Fontenot said she started to volunteer not long after her mother died after being in assisted living.

“It was like doing something for my mom too,” Fontenot said. “Even though she was gone.”

Fontenot said she moved to Natchez four years ago from Florida, two years after her mother died. She was driving and saw Magnolia, and she said she felt like the Holy Spirit guided her there.

“I’m thinking I’m going to be caretaking, something hands on, and they said they needed someone to call bingo,” Fontenot said. “I thought, ‘Excellent, I have a really loud voice.’”

Fontenot said being with her mother in her last years prepared her for helping at Magnolia, and made the volunteer aware of what seniors need.

Patience, consistency and remembering to care.

“They love consistency, they get really use to her coming in,” Welch said. “They make friends with her. They love the relationships they feel when people come consistently.”

Magnolia’s social event coordinator Sharon Frank echoed Welch’s sentiment.

“If they are sick, and they can’t go out for bingo, she’ll go down to their room and checks on them,” Frank said.

Fontenot also goes to the hospital and brings Magnolia’s residents presents to improve their mood, Frank said.

“To be able to do something, to be able to make someone’s life, or day, or afternoon means a whole lot to me.” Fontenot said. “Jesus tells us to do something for those who can’t, and I can and they can’t.”