Joe and Barb Gross have been married for six years, spending much of their time smiling, laughing and making others happy.

Joe and Barb Gross have been married for six years, spending much of their time smiling, laughing and making others happy.

Barb and Joe may be retired but their daily schedules are packed full! Barb spoke about when she first moved to Devils Lake and she didn’t know that many people. She decided she needed to get involved to meet others so one of the first places she went was the Senior Center. She met lots of people and she and Joe have since spent many hours volunteering. They’ve helped peel apples for their annual pie sales and helped make lefsa.

Barb helps serve the noon meals on a weekly basis and is currently volunteering at Park Place over the noon hour. Barb is also one of the original facilitators of the Bone Builder program at the Senior Center. Every Monday she leads an exercise class that is designed to help members with flexibility, strength and balance. “I enjoy leading these classes and I can see the benefits of regular exercise in my own life too!” Said Barb.

Another volunteer opportunity for Barb and Joe has been Hospice. “My first wife died of cancer shortly after I moved to Devils Lake. Hospice volunteers were at our side the whole time and made things easier for us. I decided after my wife passed that I wanted to give back by becoming a Hospice volunteer.” Joe said. Barb and Joe both went through the training and have helped countless patients along with providing support to the family members. Through their Hospice work, they became involved with the Dementia/Alzheimer’s support group at Eventide. The volunteers meet once per month along with a licensed social worker and discuss ways to help the patients and their families cope with the disease. “We’ve learned so much and have been able to help the patients and caregivers.” Joe said. Joe and Barb visit the patients but they will also stay with patients to provide relief to the caregivers. “The caregivers are so appreciative when we come and stay with their loved one. It’s very rewarding to be helping the patient as well as the caregiver.” Said Barb. They see a real need for this help our community so more volunteers are always welcome.

Joe is a Vietnam Veteran and finds time to help other Veterans. He volunteers at the VA Clinic on the 3rd floor of Mercy Hospital on a regular basis and since it opened four years ago, he has volunteered over 300 hours! He says he does everything from making coffee to assisting patients to appointments all while keeping the staff on their toes with his jokes and good humor.

Joe is also a member of the VFW Honor Guard and last year he volunteered at 32 funerals and transported two deceased Veterans to the Veteran’s Cemetery in Mandan. Along with being a member of the VFW, he is a member of the Disabled American Veterans and the American Legion. Their volunteerism extends to their church where they are both are parishioners of St. Joseph Catholic Church. They are very active and are members of the Society of St. Vincent DePaul as well as Eucharistic Ministers and Greeters. They take communion to the nursing home on a regular basis and every Sunday, Barb takes communion to three home-bound parishioners. This all requires a commitment but the benefits received from giving back make all of it seem easy. They also are greeters at church and parishioners can count on Joe making them smile as they enter the church!

They spend time at the swing bed in Mercy Hospital and take meals to patients after their hospital stay. They also are bell ringers for the Salvation Army Christmas Kettle Campaign and help at the Marketplace for Kids event held at Lake Region State College in the spring. Joe and Barb frequently visit the nursing homes and this winter, they started visiting at the assisted living facilities in Devils Lake, as well.

When they are not out helping others, they like gardening and yard work. Barb enjoys sitting down to read a good book and Joe likes to fish. It seems wherever there is a need, Barb and Joe find it. Thank you for making our community a great place to live and for making countless people feel so loved and cared for.