A 10-year-old’s wish to be a flight attendant leads to 40 years of love and adventure.
At the age of 10 Denise already knew what she wanted to do with her life. Leaving her home state, meeting new people, and having adventures was at the top of her list. She was going to achieve this by becoming a flight attendant, just like her next door neighbor.
She requested applications from various airlines and kept them in a drawer, so that she knew what she had to do for the next decade to be eligible for hire once she turned 21.
“It’s crazy looking back now – most ten year olds didn’t do that – but I just knew that’s what I wanted to do,” says Denise.
Thirteen years later she did just that. After attending college and working as a receptionist for a few years, she started submitting her applications. At 23 years old, she finally realized her dream when she moved to New York to work for United Airlines.
Denise recalls how she couldn’t wait to talk to people as a new flight attendant. A middle child with two brothers, Denise had to be outgoing lest she be overshadowed by her boisterous brothers. So when she finally landed her dream job her friendly personality was an asset. She could talk to pretty much anyone, including a certain someone named Regis.
Denise met Regis when she was still a new employee. Regis was in charge of scheduling flight attendants for United, and fraternization with the flight attendants was strictly forbidden. But that didn’t stop the two from striking up a friendly, flirtatious relationship.
Regis had recently run the New York City Marathon. So, one day, while he was sitting at his desk Denise walked around the desk, touched his legs and asked flirtatiously, “Are these the legs that ran the marathon?” Regis called her up that very same night and asked her out on a date.
Due to United’s rule that prevented them from officially dating, they had to keep the relationship secret for quite some time, even after the two moved in together. But after about a year they walked into a work party holding hands, finally making their relationship public. People were shocked, but luckily they didn’t get in trouble.
After five years United shrunk their New York base, and Denise was given the choice between relocating to Chicago or Denver. She chose Denver.
“I always had a love affair with Colorado,” she explains.
Regis was not long in following her to Denver, and shortly after they were married, and eventually had three kids: Molly, Kathleen and Patrick.
Almost forty years later, Denise’s love affair with both Regis and Colorado is still going strong. The two continue to live in the same home in which their children grew up. They’ve retired from United but still frequently travel, taking full advantage of the retirement perks offered by the company that brought them together.
Their kids, now adults, have followed Denise’s suit and left their native Boulder to explore the world. Their son even returned full circle to Denise’s home state of Washington.
Fortunately, despite being spread out, they still want to spend time with their folks.
“They’re good kids, they wanna come home and be with us, and they still go on vacation with us,” Denise says, beaming with joy.
That’s a bonus of being retired–she can drop everything and spend time with the kids or be there for them when they need her.
But with her kids grown and only their two cats to care for, Denise has found herself with more time on her hands. So, following her mother’s example from when she was younger, she’s begun volunteering.
Denise’s parents taught their kids the value of volunteering and the importance of kindness and generosity. They were heavily involved with their church, and her mother founded a local charity that collected toys for needy children during the holidays.
“They really taught me the value of being good to one another and helping the community,” says Denise of her parents.
When her own children were younger, Denise spent three hours a week volunteering at her kids’ school. She also volunteered with Boulder County CareConnect’s (BCCC) Carry-Out Caravan–a grocery shopping and delivery service for seniors. But as a mother of three and with a busy schedule as a flight attendant, she didn’t have as much time as she desired for volunteering.
It wasn’t until she and Regis retired from United, and after Regis began working for BCCC, that she found the perfect opportunity to return to her love for volunteering.
When she again began volunteering with BCCC, she enrolled as a driver for Medical Mobility, a program connecting members of the community with seniors who need reliable transportation to and from their medical appointments.
Denise enjoys cultivating unique relationships with each of her senior riders. Ever a flight attendant at heart, she never finds it hard to talk to new people in a way that makes them feel important. She always puts an emphasis on genuinely listening to her riders’ stories about their lives and families, making them feel cared for.
“Everyone likes to talk about themselves, you just have to be friendly and strike up a conversation,” Denise advises.
Her genuine friendliness is what made her a great flight attendant, and what today allows her to foster special relationships with her senior neighbors that enrich their lives.
Many seniors are struggling with the isolating challenges of aging in their own homes and communities, or if someone is not yet a senior, they have loved ones who are facing those challenges. At Boulder County CareConnect we connect seniors with people like Denise, helping them to flourish in their community.
Join us today to provide important services and relationships to your senior neighbors.
Help seniors flourish by reconnecting them—as recipients and contributors—with their surrounding communities.