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Giving back

Retired minister finds volunteer opportunities (and more) at Riderwood

Created date

July 19th, 2016
Retired minister Ed Gehres gives back to the community where he lives by serving on Riderwood’s Resident Advisory Council.

Retired minister Ed Gehres gives back to the community where he lives by serving on Riderwood’s Resident Advisory Council.

After a stint as an accountant that left him feeling uninspired, Ed Gehres spent 35 years in ministry, both at a parish and as a regional administrator. In those roles, he learned firsthand that “volunteers are the lifeblood of an institution.” 

That’s why he recently decided to run for election to the Resident Advisory Council (RAC) at Riderwood, the Erickson Living community in Silver Spring, Md., where he now lives with his wife Evelyn. 

Finding philanthropy

“I believe in giving back, and I see service on RAC as a way of giving back to the [community where] I live,” Ed says.

The RAC is an important and influential committee that serves as a liaison between residents and staff. Ed’s role on RAC is as the liaison to the on-site medical center and Arbor Ridge, Riderwood’s continuing care health services neighborhood. 

In order to keep the lines of communication open between management and residents, Ed has monthly meetings with the director of the medical center and his assistant, as well as with the administrator of Arbor Ridge. 

Ed and Evelyn previously lived in the Philadelphia, Pa., area. Quite a few members of their church lived at Maris Grove, Riderwood’s sister community in Glen Mills, Pa., so they were familiar with the Erickson Living lifestyle. 

When Ed and Evelyn decided they wanted to move to Maryland to be closer to their son, they toured Riderwood and another retirement community in the area. 

They discovered that the two-bedroom Princeton-style apartment home at Riderwood was much bigger and brighter than the one-bedroom-plus-den home they were considering at the other community. In 2014, they couple moved to Riderwood. 

Busy bee

“When people ask me what it’s like here, I say that it’s like being on a perpetual cruise,” Ed says. “What’s not to like about eating every night in a dining room with white linen tablecloths and flowers on the table, and a choice of six entrees and six desserts? Plus, Riderwood is large enough that there are all kinds of things to do on campus.”

Ed has enrolled in a number of courses through Riderwood’s lifelong learning program, which is offered on-site in conjunction with Prince George’s Community College. He has taken classes on music appreciation, nutrition, Winston Churchill, and other topics. 

“The classes are good and interesting,” he says. “We had a class last semester on film, and the instructor took us back to the ’20s and started with silent films. We worked our way through, and the last film we saw was The Wizard of Oz. The instructor taught us all about things like camera angles and set design.”

Ed is a member of Riderwood’s Night Owls, a group that organizes evening parties for residents. The lively group hosts a St. Patrick’s Day party and concert, a fall festival, and a New Year’s Eve dance with a live band. This summer, they are also planning an evening of music under the stars. 

Ed also serves as the convener of the Riderwood Clergy Fellowship. Faith is important to Ed and Evelyn, and they have found a new church in Laurel that they feel is a great fit for them. 

When inclement weather or busy schedules prevent them from driving to their church, they always have the option of attending services at Riderwood.

In addition to enjoying leisure activities with their neighbors at Riderwood, Ed and Evelyn are very happy to have more time with their family, especially their grandchildren who are 14 and 11. 

Over their recent spring break, the kids had a “staycation” at Ed and Evelyn’s. They played board games and visited the National Arboretum. They went out for lunch, to a bookstore, to a pottery class, and to the movies. And they had dinner as a family at one of Riderwood’s on-site restaurants.