by Alice Choate
How did you initially become involved with The Christi Center?
After my husband John died. I lived in Westlake, and knew about Christi, and somebody told me about what Susan and Don had started. So, I went to the first location, over on 360. This was in 1993—a long time ago!
How has your role/involvement evolved?
Well, I sort of did a lot in the beginning, at least a year or so, I went to meetings, and got to know Susan, and ended up hanging around the office. I actually tried to write a little grant. Susan and Don were just amazingly supportive—so I was just there. I guess when I got a regular job, I moved on. In the meantime, I maintained a friendship with Susan and Don. And then when I retired, I wanted to volunteer here.
What is a stand-out moment that you were a part of while volunteering at The Christi Center?
It’s whenever I have the opportunity to tell people about the Center. Like, I brought my friend here after her husband died—and it felt so good to bring her here. She was in rough shape. Now, at this stage, it seems like everyone knows about it or knows somebody who has been here. When I come here as a volunteer, I often do small jobs, but it’s the ability to affect people by telling them about this resource. I’m still incredulous what Susan and Don have been able to achieve—it’s such a gift to the city of Austin.
What do you think is the most important way to help a friend who is grieving?
Be there and listen.
I always tell them about the Christi Center. Talk about their loved one. I love it more than anything, even 20 years on, to talk about John. I hate it that my family even often doesn’t mention him.
I remember after John died—you know he had such an incredible journey—he was so goal oriented, loved golf—he wanted to really live until he died. After he died, this young man called me out of the blue and said, “I’m just so sorry John died” and then launched into a story about him, a really funny story, and it just meant the world to me. People just don’t do that often.
What is your favorite quote?
“Expect a miracle, and make it happen”—this was a favorite quote of John’s—it was so John. Expect something really good to happen, and then do what you can do to get it.
About the author:
Alice Choate is a mom and grandmother, and retired from the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center in 2013. She volunteers with The Christi Center weekly, and also volunteers with Ten Thousand Villages, as well as helping to care for her grandchildren.