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Culture of caring

Second Wednesdays With Mairi highlights philanthropy at Linden Ponds

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April 23rd, 2014
(From left) Norm Jenkins, Mairi Fuller Bleakie, and Carol Oliver chat on the set of LPTV6’s Second Wednesdays With Mairi.
(From left) Norm Jenkins, Mairi Fuller Bleakie, an

Now ten years old, Linden Ponds exists and thrives by its mission statement: “We share our gifts to create a community that celebrates life.” Opportunities abound through more than 100 diverse activity groups led by people who call Linden Ponds home.  

One of the newest television programs produced and aired at Linden Ponds embodies the culture of giving that sparked its creation. Second Wednesdays With Mairi, a play on the book by Mitch Albom, Tuesdays With Morrie, is a live segment hosted by Linden Ponds resident Norm Jenkins and Philanthropy Manager Mairi Fuller Bleakie.  

Once a month during the volunteer-driven Wednesday morning live show, Norm and Mairi interview members of the community who have given their “time, talents, or treasure” to their fellow neighbors. Recent shows have featured the community’s woodshop manager, professional musicians, and an advocate for people with disabilities.     

“Love of humanity; that’s what philanthropy is,” Mairi says. “It doesn’t have to be monetary.”

Happier life 

Seated comfortably on the set of the LPTV6 studio without the cameras running, Norm and Mairi discuss the shared goal that brought them together. Their mutual respect and belief in the cause is unmistakable.  

“If you do things for other people, you’re going to be a happier person and lead a happier life,” says Norm.

Mairi, who originally hails from Nova Scotia, was drawn to the role at Linden Ponds because of the community’s mission. “I believe that [mission] when I come in [to work] and when I leave. This is how I live my life,” she says.

Mairi has become well-known since she joined the community last year, and passersby often stop by her office near the entrance of the Derby Clubhouse. 

“There are people who come into your life who just have that charm that draws people to them. I don’t think anyone doesn’t know her,” says Carol Oliver, who lives at Linden Ponds and works closely with Mairi as the chair of the Anniversary Committee.

Pioneering philanthropy

People who live at Linden Ponds form or join activity groups where they share their talents, from sports to theater to crafts. Those who live and work in the community partner together in committees to plan events like this year’s anniversary celebrations. 

Carol will be this month’s guest on Second Wednesdays With Mairi. Earlier this year, she devoted many hours to an event recognizing the first residents of Linden Ponds. The “pioneers,” as they are known, assembled for a group photo that will hang in one of the clubhouses.  

The positive feedback Carol received after the event made the hours of planning well worth the effort. “The joy that people have and the appreciation—you can’t buy that with money,” she says.

On a recent Second Wednesdays featuring Roy Peterson, who co-founded the Linden Ponds woodshop, Norm said: “As [residents] walk around and see these things that Roy has talked about, think about what Roy and others have done to make our lives at Linden Ponds better.” He added, “This is philanthropy in action.” 

While the focus of Second Wednesdays is typically the sharing of time and talents, the community also raises money for its philanthropic funds, supporting residents who encounter unforeseen financial hardship and young employees eligible for student scholarships. 

This month’s Scholarship Week marks the culmination of entertaining fundraising events that support the $5,000 college scholarships given to student employees who have worked 1,000 hours at Linden Ponds. 

Norm Jenkins hosts the annual spelling bee, pitting the students—many of whom work in the restaurants at Linden Ponds—against people who live in the community. Scholarship events typically exceed their fundraising goals. 

“There’s a strong culture of caring that exists here; we just want to bring it to the surface,” Mairi says. “There’s room for everyone to contribute to the life of this community; by doing so, you enrich your own community and yourself.”

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