Wilhelmina Thomassen has led a full and active life. A tall woman in her 70s with clear blue eyes and striking white hair, Thomassen speaks with a slight Dutch accent. "I had a school in Holland for handicapped children and I loved them," she said during an interview in her home. But after Thomassen's husband was killed in World War II, she immigrated to America and raised a daughter alone.

Today, Thomassen's life is centered in her cozy red brick home on 700 East with trees shading her front porch. She has three cats and a dog named "Bear" who has adopted her. Thomassen's daughter, Wilka, and her two children live with her. Before Wilka leaves for work in the morning, she sets out breakfast for her mother and has a lunch prepared.A vascular system disease has robbed Thomassen of mobility, but she takes it in stride - just as long as she can stay in her home. Were it not for Community Nursing Services & Hospice, Thomassen would have to be hospitalized.

At no cost to Thomassen, a registered nurse stops by her home several times a week and through regular treatment, her swollen legs and feet are healed from the open sores that plagued her. An aide comes once a week to bathe the elderly woman, who can no longer stand on her feet for any length of time.

The nurse suggested that a "senior companion" be assigned to Thomassen and so Treva Kremers began stopping by to see her. "I've gotten to be such good friends with Willy and with her daughter and two grandchildren," said Kremers.

With Treva around, Willy's sunny disposition peaks in wit and repartee with her friend. "You're going to be a big star, Willy," Trevers joked to Thomassen as the Deseret News photographer set up his equipment. "I'll get sick," Thomassen warns with smile. "It's a good feeling when we `mix it up,' " explained Trevers.

Community Nursing Services & Hospice is a member of the Visiting Nurse Association of America and the National Association of Home Care. Carolyn M. Hunter, director of volunteers for CNS explained how one of CNS's nurses can identify problems. "A nurse can suggest an aide, a physical therapist or a companion. We have a long waiting list for companions - the nurses see the difference that a senior companion can make."

"Many of the homebound get very little company. They need social stimulation," said Hunter. "To have a senior companion in their home is just like a ray of sunshine."

Thomassen's senior companion, Treva Kremers, noticed how difficult it was for Thomassen to keep her feet up like the nurses urged. At Kremers request, CNS found a family willing to donate a reclining chair.

Kremers, who is also in her 70s, is benefited in her service to Willy and three other clients. She is paid a $2.20 per hour, non-taxable stipend and receives a transportation reimbursement. For many senior citizens on fixed incomes, serving as a senior companion brings a sense of self-worth in aiding the homebound as well as a little extra income. Kremers knows her friend Willy so well that she had a tissue for her before she even asked for it. "I know you, Willy," she laughed as she placed the tissue in Thomassen's outstretched hand.

Willy Thomassen is not able to get out so Kremers' help includes putting on a pot of coffee and picking up things for her at the store. She has washed curtains and dishes. But most of all, Kremers brings her friendship and compassion. "Everyone loves Willy," she said. "Ladies from the ward come to see her even though she isn't LDS. The Jehovah Witnesses also come to visit with her."

For the gracious Dutch lady whose life is now so difficult, the women who come to serve her mean all the world. "They like me and they like to come," Wilhelmina Thomassen said proudly.