In her career as an educator, Dolores Dries says she had to “encourage, be positive and, of course, be patient” with her students and their parents. “These attributes are also useful with other heart survivors,” she said.
Dries recently retired after more than 30 years in education. During those years, she taught special education as well as grades 1 through 4.
It was in 1989, a year after her coronary bypass surgery, that Dries saw the Mended Hearts booth at a health fair. “The members were so friendly that I decided to join,” she said. Dries also had a pacemaker implanted in 2005 and AV node ablation in 2008.
A member of Chapter 30 in Dallas, Dries has served as president, vice president and secretary. She currently is serving as Co-Visitor Chairperson. In addition, she’s volunteered at the Mended Hearts National Office in Dallas for the past eight years. Dries was happy to provide assistance with the annual convention, mailings and general office duties.
“As a Mended Hearts visitor, I get great inspiration visiting other heart survivors,” she said. Dries shared a favorite memory: “This happened many years ago, but I still remember it. At age 90 or so, this gentleman said he never buys green bananas, only ripe ones. Reason: He lives each day as it is now and enjoys it.”
Dries said that when she visits other patients before their procedures and tells them that she had the same one, “the look of their faces brightens and they ask questions and are very interested — including their caregiver.
“They see there is HOPE and when recovered, they too will be doing things like before,” she continued. “This is very rewarding, to see I made a difference in someone’s life, and hopefully they will pass it on to others.”
With Mended Hearts moving toward its independence, Dries is looking forward to seeing it become as recognized and known as other organizations, such as those for cancer and lung disease. Her suggestions? “I feel that Mended Hearts should concentrate on the younger generation and have more visibility with the Internet and with cardiologists,” she said.