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College spirit

Penn State alumni group gets rowdy at Maris Grove

Created date

April 16th, 2015
Residents and club members John Kaufman (left), George Alburger, and Bette Alburger give the rousing “We are…Penn State” cheer that opens and closes each Penn State club meeting at Maris Grove.
Residents and club members John Kaufman (left), Ge

Erickson Living’s retirement community located in the rolling hills of Delaware County, Pa., offers more than 180 on-campus clubs and activities, including several alumni groups. 

Among them all, the Penn State club stands out. It’s clearly the liveliest alumni group on campus.

‘We are…Penn State’

Anyone within earshot of the club’s monthly meetings can’t help but pick up their feet when they hear the Penn State alma mater followed by three rousing “We are…Penn State” cheers.

That ritual begins and ends each get-together. 

The club’s roster lists 50 names; Penn State alums abound at Maris Grove, including Community Resources Coordinator Jenn Moser. Moser attends the meetings and handles the club’s audiovisual equipment needs.

Executive Director Maureen Heckler is another Penn State grad. 

When the university launched its 2014 football season by playing University of Central Florida in Ireland, Heckler was there. “She Skyped with us as we watched the game on TV and she watched it in person,” says John Kaufman. 

John started the Penn State club seven years ago at the request of other neighborhood alums. Meetings are now as convenient as a walk down the hall instead of a drive to an off-site location. 

They even include “stickies,” the much-loved pastry that’s an institution at Penn State. 

Speakers and topics are as varied as can be. An especially popular program by a uniform-wearing former member of the Penn State Blue Band, explained the band’s audition and training program. 

Another speaker, from Penn State’s main library, discussed its library system. 

And this group of super-enthusiastic football fans so enjoyed a poetry reading by a professor from Penn State’s Brandywine campus near Maris Grove that the club invited her back.

When member Bette Alburger arranged for that presenter, she didn’t realize the topic would be poetry. “I wasn’t sure how it would fly,” she says, “but it was a big hit.”

Bette has presented, too. With production assistance from her Maris Grove neighbor Bob Welsh, she gave a PowerPoint presentation based on postcards of Penn State’s 1950s-era campus. When she finished, everyone shared memories of their college years.

Convenience and camaraderie

While Maris Grove’s Penn State roster is small compared to the community’s 1,400-resident population, the community makes visiting alums feel at home. 

Bette’s sorority alumnae group, for example, holds its annual meetings at Maris Grove. One of those attendees, thrilled to learn about the club, has now decided to move to Maris Grove.

The neighborly camaraderie extends across the Maris Grove campus and is an oft-cited benefit of living there. 

Bette’s husband George says they’ve made more and closer friends in eight years at Maris Grove than in the decades they’d spent in Swarthmore, Pa. “We share a common bond as seniors living together,” he says. “You come in and feel a connection immediately.”

The amenities get high marks, too. George no longer carries trash to the curb, cuts the lawn, or copes with homeowner chores. 

And Maris Grove’s five dining venues and flexible meal plans fit residents’ varied lifestyles. Bette, for instance, is still working: “It’s nice to come home and not think about cooking,” she says. 

Besides the restaurants, the on-campus amenities include a bank, postal center, pharmacy, convenience store, and fitness center. And Maris Grove’s full-service medical center is staffed by physicians who see only Maris Grove residents, and the maintenance team is prompt, professional, and efficient.

“You couldn’t find more conveniences in one location than Maris Grove offers,” says John.  



Perfect place for alumni gatherings

Maris Grove’s community resources handbook lists three additional alumni groups.

Some 20 “Hallahan girls,” alumnae of John W. Hallahan Catholic Girls High School in Philadelphia, gather quarterly for lunch and fellowship at the Grove Pub & Bistro.

South Philadelphia High School alums hold their quarterly lunches in the private dining room adjacent to Maris Grove’s Blue Sky Restaurant. Yearbooks are optional but definitely welcome. 

University of Pennsylvania alumni meet intermittently, mainly to socialize.