Fisher House Volunteer of the Year

August 1, 2014

Anita Olds was born in Rota, Spain and in 1966 met Greg Olds, who was stationed in Rota with the US Navy.  They married and after a little more than a year, Greg separated from the Navy and they moved to Illinois.  At that time Anita did not speak or understand English!  She learned from exposure to her “new family” and from watching television.  After being out of the Navy for 14 months, Greg reenlisted into the Active Navy Reserves, and he was assigned to Alameda Naval Air Station, California.

Although she has not been volunteering with Fisher House very long, she has been a lifelong volunteer.  She began volunteering with Navy Relief in 1969 where she was recognized for volunteering more than 10,000 hours.  In addition, she has volunteered at her local senior center for several years.  Anita has proudly volunteered for various military organizations for more than 45 years.

Anita has been volunteering at the Travis Fisher Houses since November 2013 and her story is exceptional.  She became a guest at the Travis Fisher House after many months of driving her husband back and forth from home to Travis for treatment, after he was diagnosed with incurable leukemia.  She lives more than 50 miles from the base and has to cross a toll bridge to reach the hospital.  Unfortunately, no one told her about the Fisher House, and when she saw the house, she thought it must be the “Base General’s house."  Eventually, being totally exhausted from the frequent trips to the hospital, Greg’s doctor was able to admit him to receive his daily treatments and she was told to check in at what she thought was the “General’s house.”  Confused, she went and discovered the mission of Fisher House.

She began volunteering to help in any way possible while she was a house guest.  Since her beloved Greg passed away, Anita has become a dedicated volunteer, making the long drive, with very heavy traffic and tolls to volunteer 6 to 8 hours a day 2 to 3 days a week.  Her compassionate nature and boundless energy lifts the spirits of all who encounter her.  Her positive personality and work ethic make her a great fit.  She enthusiastically jumps right in to find things that need to be done and immediately starts to work with a cheerful disposition.  She is a natural leader and has an exceptional talent for organization.  She has organized the storage building and now, because of Anita’s magic touch, everything is easy to find and like items are located together, making it so easy for the Fisher House staff to access needed items.  She also gladly helps the housekeeper clean rooms when guests checkout, does laundry, and helps keep the kitchen clean and organized.  

Anita was invaluable in assisting to prepare the newly built Travis Fisher House II for the arrival of its first guests.  She stocked the kitchen with food, set up and stocked the toiletry closet, ensured each guest room was supplied with all amenities and cleaned the floors, dusted, and touched up the house for the dedication ceremony.

Anita has one son, one daughter and six granddaughters.  They are all the joy of her life, and she spends as much time as possible with them.