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A time for thanksgiving

Volunteers enjoy breakfast of appreciation at Tallgrass Creek

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August 9th, 2016
Enjoying Tallgrass Creek’s volunteer appreciation breakfast are (from left, front) Marlys Welch, Jacquie VanMeter, Terry VanMeter, Fred Olson, and Don Welch.

Enjoying Tallgrass Creek’s volunteer appreciation breakfast are (from left, front) Marlys Welch, Jacquie VanMeter, Terry VanMeter, Fred Olson, and Don Welch.

From teaching tai chi to coordinating computer classes to making cookies, scarves, and hats for the homeless, Tallgrass Creek volunteers are tireless. To celebrate contributions of all volunteers at the Overland Park, Kans., Erickson Living community, resident life staff hosted a breakfast of appreciation earlier this year. About 150 residents enjoyed pastries, scrambled eggs, and cheese blintzes as Associate Executive Director Pam Haman lauded their energy and contributions. 

“Our residents volunteer in so many ways, not only at Tallgrass Creek but also around the Kansas City area,” says Haman. “It’s inspiring to be around a community that looks for ways to not only help each other but also others.” 

Rewarding accomplishments

After breakfast, several volunteers took over the microphone to talk about their particular interests, including Elaine Alexander, an enthusiastic quilter who coordinates the Quilts of Valor project at Tallgrass Creek. Quilts of Valor quilters meet weekly at Tallgrass Creek and are part of a national drive to cover American service people and veterans touched by war with comforting, handmade quilts. 

Elaine started the project at Tallgrass Creek in 2008. Since then, the group has made hundreds of quilts, including 126 for U.S. veterans living at Tallgrass Creek. Each of the community’s veterans receives a quilt in ceremonies held annually on Veteran’s Day.

 “The camaraderie among our group is great,” says Elaine. “We each find it personally rewarding because we’re accomplishing something meaningful.” 

Something for everyone 

Tallgrass Creek has more than 65 resident-driven clubs and committees that focus on topics like nature, woodworking, art, continuing education, music, philanthropy, technology, entertainment, physical fitness, reading, and religion. 

“We live in a community of about 400 people with diverse interests and talents,” says Jan Magee, resident life manager. “We all need help at some point, and it’s personally inspiring how many in this community reach out to make someone’s life a little better.”  

Magee, along with resident life colleague Jennifer Gray, welcomed guests to the volunteer appreciation breakfast by giving each a slip of paper that asked them to anonymously answer the question: “What does volunteering do for my heart?” 

Gray read many of the descriptive and humorous answers aloud to the group, including one that best summed up the group’s attitude:

“Volunteering makes me feel hopeful, useful, capable, and warm inside,” one resident penned. “In short, it completes me.” 

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