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Leading a generation of generosity

Ashby Ponds community member exemplifies volunteerism

Created date

January 24th, 2012

In September 2011, the Corporation for National and Community Service reported that 18.7 million older adults more than a quarter of those 55 and older contributed, on average, more than three billion hours of service in their communities every year between 2008 and 2010. The yearly economic benefit of this service to the nation equals more than $64 billion, based on the dollar value per volunteer hour. Communities across America are seeing the benefits from the talent and skill older Americans offer through volunteering, says Robert Velasco, II, acting CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service. At Ashby Ponds, an Erickson Living community in Ashburn, Va., volunteerism is an important part of many community members lives, best illustrated by Mary Terry, whose lifetime of community service inspires all who know her. By giving, I receive more than I could possibly describe to anyone, she says. For Mary, giving of herself is something she has been doing for most of her adult life. When I was a young housewife, I moved to New Jersey and met a wonderful lady who became my mentor, she says. She taught me that through giving I would receive. I took her words to heart. I was so vulnerable at that time in my life I think I would have done anything she suggested. Today my friend is almost 90, and I like to remind what a good teacher she is.

First forays

As soon as the first of her three children started school, Mary began volunteering with the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) and spent a night a week volunteering at the local library. It felt very natural for me to give my time this way, says Mary. It never felt like a burden. Before long, Mary was president of the PTA while also volunteering at her church. She taught Sunday school, helped fund-raise, and worked on the church budget. The experience she gained in this capacity earned her a spot on the Harrington Park, N.J., school board. As her children grew, Mary entered the workforce, first working in private schools (due to her position on the school board she could not work in the public school system), and ultimately working for the American Red Cross. Even as my schedule continued to fill up, I always made time for volunteer work, she says. There was never any question.

Caring connections

After caring for a very special person in her life, Mary became a hospice volunteer, working with long-term care patients in Reston, Herndon, Sterling, and Leesburg, Va. She continues this work today. I knew that once I retired, this is how I wanted to spend my time, she says. My role with hospice is to relieve the patients caregivers in whatever way I can. I am available as they need me and commit myself to as much time as they need. I am also there for the patients. Many want to talk about their lives, and I am there to listen. Over the last four years, Mary has cared for many long-term patients and has become part of their families. I ve had people say to me, I can never repay you, and I say to them, You don t have to. Just think about giving it back in another way to someone else.

Community leader

In November 2008, Mary moved to Ashby Ponds and quickly discovered a plethora of new opportunities. Now, in addition to volunteering with hospice, she chairs the communications committee and volunteers on the philanthropy and entertainment committees. My life has expanded a great deal since moving to Ashby Ponds; there are so many opportunities for the residents, says Mary. It s a very warm, welcoming community. In addition to her committee work, Mary began the community-wide Purple Paper, a weekly newsletter of upcoming activities, and coordinates the publication of Around the Ponds, a quarterly newsletter highlighting resident stories and campus news. Mary exemplifies the mission of Ashby Ponds by sharing her extraordinary knowledge and talents to serve the greater good of our community, says Joseph Barrows, community resources manager at Ashby Ponds. She is considerate of her neighbors and the staff and always seeks out ways to assist both. I just really love people, says Mary. And I love to see them smile.