Chase Your Passion, Not Your Pension
Friday, December 1, 2023
Written by Sue Murray, Volunteer Spotlight Writer

Kim Neglia grew up in the San Fernando Valley and studied at UCLA.  After moving to Manhattan Beach and teaching for a few years, she shifted to a career in market research and statistical data analysis in the retail sector.

Kim’s mother became ill and moved in with her in 1996. Each week when the home healthcare nurse visited, Kim noticed how her mother’s mood improved.  It was then that Kim developed a compassion and appreciation for the older adult community.

During this transition, Kim attended a Leadership Manhattan Beach presentation about Beach Cities Health District (BCHD). She learned about the services offered to the community and took interest in the  Conversation Companion program. This was the start of Kim’s long 27-year career of being a volunteer Conversation Companion.

Kim usually focuses on one client at a time. For the last 12 years, Kim has met with her current Conversation Companion partner each week. “I don’t know what we talk about, but we always seem to find something to fill the room with laughter and chatter,” said Kim.

Since the pandemic, Kim and her client have spent more time on the telephone, than face to face, but Kim is hoping they’ll be able to get back to meeting in person on a regular basis soon.

Aside from volunteering, Kim attends yoga and body sculpting classes at the  Center for Health and Fitness, walks with friends along the Strand, enjoys a book club, and travels with her husband.  If you go to American Martyrs Church on Saturday evenings, you’ll also most likely see Kim in the choir. Her husband, Russ, is from a large Italian family, so they are always surrounded by lots of nieces and nephews. “I like to have lots of things to fill my days” explained Kim, “but I also like taking time to relax. When you’re doing something that gives you a sense of purpose, it’s not a chore.”

While there are both young and older volunteers at BCHD, Kim’s advice to anyone considering volunteering is best summed up by the American motivational speaker, writer and consultant Denis E. Waitley:, “Chase your passion, not your pension.”

Her BCHD supervisor, Sherry Lindemann, sums up Kim’s commitment to BCHD, “Kim is an awesome person and an awesome Conversation Companion!  She has been a committed volunteer for more than two decades and her willingness to help her client is above and beyond!  Kim is always open to learn, adapt and help other volunteers! Thank you, Kim!”