Meet Manuela and Twana: A Shoulder To Lean On

Papa Pal Twana provides member Manuela with so much more than just a ride to the doctor. She brings understanding, laughter—and the will to walk again.

It’s hard to depend on others for tasks you used to be able to do on your own. But sometimes the patience and support that’s offered in return ends up being exactly what you needed. 

The special bond between Papa member Manuela and Papa Pal Twana has brought joy and a sense of community to both of their lives. It's even given Manuela the confidence and will she needs to walk again.

Meet Papa Member Manuela

Manuela is a retired widow in her 70s who has had a tough run with diabetes. Not fully understanding her condition led her to have her left leg amputated six years ago, then more recently, the toes on her right foot. This has left Manuela unable to walk or drive on her own. She relies heavily on a walker—and other people.

“I wasn't taking care of myself like I was supposed to,” she says. “Now I’m taking it more seriously.” 

Manuela has children, but they have jobs and families of their own, and aren’t always available to help. Her schedule is full of appointments, usually during the workday, and she reached a point where she felt like had no one to turn to. 

Manuela is a firm believer that you need to accept whatever comes your way in life, but that doesn’t mean it’s been easy. “You feel like you’re just in the way,” she says. And she doesn’t like that feeling at all. 

Meet Papa Pal Twana

Twana recently retired and moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan. She wanted to supplement her income as an audiobook narrator, but didn’t want to work in an office setting again, and she didn’t know the area very well. In June 2022, she found Papa, and it was exactly what she needed. She loves that the role of a Papa Pal is flexible and allows her to be out and about and get to know her new community and its residents. 

Twana says that she cherishes the opportunity to serve people around her. It’s like she was called to do this line of work.

“I feel that God assigns me to certain people at certain times,” she says. “I come across a lot of members who don't have any family or they’re at odds with their family. I feel like, even for a moment in time, I’m able to fill in that gap for them.” 

Twana also has a strong work ethic and often goes above and beyond what is expected of her. “I take pride in doing a good job,” she says. “When I walk away, I want to know things look better—and people feel better—than when I found them. This job gives me the opportunity to do that and feel good about my work.”

She says that working as a Papa Pal has been extremely rewarding because she gets direct positive feedback from the members she serves. She jokes that the Papa members are much more appreciative than her husband or kids. Twana has quickly become a Preferred Pal for multiple members. “I’m quite busy!” she says. 

Twana knows the day may come when she also needs help to get through life. She would love it if “God would send someone to be a source of comfort” like she has been to her Papa members. 

The special connection that Manuela and Twana share

Manuela is one of those members who is so appreciative of Twana’s support. Diabetes has been a discouraging development in Manuela’s life and she’s had a hard time adjusting to not being able to do the things she used to do so easily. 

“Sometimes I feel like I don’t have a life anymore,” she says. 

Manuela didn’t have anyone to talk to before Twana, and says Twana has been the perfect companion. “She always has time to listen to me and laugh with me,” Manuela says. “We get really deep, and by the time I get home from our visits, I’m happy because she has me laughing. It’s really good to have a friend like that to talk to. Health wise, I think that helps me a lot.” 

Twana also takes Manuela to her appointments, not just driving her there, but helping her get inside and making sure she understands the medical information. English is Manuela’s second language, and she appreciates that “Twana will explain things to me in simple language. That’s what I need.”

Manuela has been working on getting her prosthetics and boot to fit just right. She wants to walk again on her own—and believes she’ll get there. “My goal is to walk again. With all this help I’m getting, it might happen one of these days,” she says.

Not long after Manuela said this, something wonderful happened. She and Twana shared a very special moment that Twana captured on video. Manuela was fitted for new prosthetic boots that will hopefully give her the balance she needs to walk on her own again. She tried them out with her walker while Twana cheered her on.

“She cried tears of joy,” Twana says, “and I was so happy to be a part of that happy moment in her life.” 

“My Papa Pals are the ones I hold on to”

Being able to walk again is a dream come true for Manuela, but she values her connection with Twana just as much. 

“Twana is so patient with me and that's what I’m all about right now. I really appreciate my Papa Pals. They understand all about patience and the feelings people go through. I thank God for them and this service. I don’t know what I would do without them,” she says.