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Sharing their gifts

Eagle’s Trace residents donate time, talent to benefit others

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August 20th, 2014
man playing a piano with people standing around
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“What I spent, is gone; what I kept, I lost; but what I gave away will be mine forever.” —Ethel Percy Andrus, AARP founder

Pat Coatsworth knows the secret to happiness lies in helping others.

The retired teacher recently organized a Sharing Our Gifts fair at Trace, the Erickson Living community in West Houston where she lives.

“I moved to Eagle’s Trace from Sun City in Georgetown, Tex., to be closer to my children and grandchildren,” says Pat. “Once I visited Eagle’s Trace, I knew this was where I needed to be. The residents are active and engaged, and there are clubs for just about any interest.”

Soon after she moved to Eagle’s Trace in November 2012, Pat joined the Community Outreach Committee, made up of residents who organize and implement service projects at Eagle’s Trace, in the greater Houston area, and beyond.

“I enjoy this club because its focus is on helping others,” says Pat. “I’m happiest when I’m doing something for someone else.”

Opportunities abound

Since January, members of the Community Outreach Committee have made peanut butter for distribution through the Houston Food Bank, baked treats for local firefighters, and sewn stuffed animals and hero capes for patients at Texas Children’s Hospital.

“Many of our residents are focused on helping others,” says Pat, who took over as chairman of the Community Outreach Committee in May.

One of Pat’s first projects as the committee’s new chairperson was to organize the Sharing Our Gifts fair with fellow resident and committee member Louise Baldaro.

“I’ve talked with people who don’t realize what they have to offer,” says Pat. “We all have gifts to share. We just have to find the opportunity to match.”

The fair, held in late May, featured residents who displayed and discussed their skills and hobbies with their peers.

“It was rewarding to hear people say, ‘I could do that,’ as they went from table to table,” says Pat. “Our goal is to expand the number of people involved in the Community Outreach Committee’s year-round charitable projects.”

Sharing the gift of music

The fair’s participants included artists, woodworkers, musicians, those who like to sew, and those who enjoy crafts.

David Jackson, a retired draftsman for an engineering firm, has been playing the piano for most of his life. His extensive repertoire includes classical music and Big Band favorites. David participated in the fair as one who shares his gift of music.

David and his wife Joyce moved to Eagle’s Trace in 2006. Shortly after they moved in, David started a tradition that’s become a favorite among residents.

“The first time we went down for dinner, I saw the piano in the living room [across from the Garden Room Restaurant],” says David. “After we finished eating, I sat down to play a few notes and ended up playing for half an hour. I’ve been playing the piano after dinner ever since.”

David, who plays from memory, says he’s glad to take requests from other residents.

“It creates a nice ambience in the clubhouse at the end of the day,” says David. “I like to think it brings a little joy to those who hear it.”

Gifts and talents survey

At the conclusion of the Sharing Our Gifts fair, members of the Community Outreach Committee distributed a gifts and talents survey for residents to complete.

“We’d like to compile a database of residents’ gifts and use the database to match residents with potential outreach projects,” says Pat. “Think of what we can accomplish if we know what we have to offer and we’re attuned to the needs of others.”

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