The Key to Caring: Meet Our Director of Volunteer Services

Meet Keyatta (Key) Shade, our Director of Volunteer Services! We sat down with Key to talk about what brought him to campus more than five years ago, how he became involved working with volunteers, and what he continues to learn from our residents and patients.

“I have always had an affinity for older adults and people with disabilities, having grown up very close to my grandparents and having a cousin who was physically and developmentally disabled,” explains Key, who has worked in the fields of aging and disability for nearly 20 years and holds a Master’s degree in Nonprofit Administration from USF.

Key Shade, Director of Volunteer Services

As Director of Volunteer Series, Key says that a typical day on campus can be “quite eclectic.” He is responsible for matching and placing volunteers with residents on both sides of the campus (JHRC and Frank Residences), meeting with current volunteers to discuss inquiries or issues, and supporting our Life Enrichment staff with activities when necessary. He also provides one-on-one consultations with residents to determine their volunteer needs. “It’s a great way to get to know our residents on a more personal level and figure out how to best support them,” says Key.

Often, Key’s interactions with residents will also include components of direct care–such as transporting them to different events on campus, running errands offsite, and helping to schedule appointments. Key is happy to help and has found that these experiences lead to deeper friendships with the residents. “The older adults who live here really have so much to contribute to our own personal growth. They’ve lived some incredibly fulfilling lives and if you just take the time to listen to their stories, you can find so much in common and learn a lot,” he muses.

Key’s responsibilities extend to facilitating group activities several days a week, including our Black Heritage Group, and supervising student interns from partner programs like Jewish Vocational Services and John C. O’Connell High School Healthcare Pathways. Additionally, Key oversees the gift shop, which is now entirely volunteer-run, and supervises a team of six receptionists on the SNF side of campus.

When he thinks about the future, Key feels optimistic. With more than 233 annual volunteers and a combined total of 16,000 volunteer hours from July 2022 to June 2023, our volunteer program is gaining more momentum with each year. So what are Key’s goals for 2024? “To continue to strengthen and build relationships between volunteers and residents, and in doing so grow this amazing community,” he says.