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Acts of kindness are contagious at Cedar Crest

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February 20th, 2017
(From left) Tiffany Taylor, Ramon Lopez, Miguel Gonzalez, Lauren Corrente, Kelli Daood, George Papendick, Jennifer Schweizer, and Erica Zayat deliver more than 200 bags of food and toiletries to Pequannock Food Pantry.

(From left) Tiffany Taylor, Ramon Lopez, Miguel Gonzalez, Lauren Corrente, Kelli Daood, George Papendick, Jennifer Schweizer, and Erica Zayat deliver more than 200 bags of food and toiletries to Pequannock Food Pantry.

Love is in the air this month as we prepare to celebrate Valentine’s Day. While the story of its patron saint is shrouded in mystery, the modern-day Valentine’s celebration certainly isn’t. Approximately 150 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged annually. In fact, it’s the second most popular card-sending holiday after Christmas. 

But while most of us associate February’s holiday with romance, there’s another kind of love worth noting: love for each other as neighbors, friends, and fellow humans.

Although it can sometimes be hard to find among the headlines, love is all around us—if you know where to find it. 

Volunteer opportunities

One place to look is at Cedar Crest, the Erickson Living community in Pompton Plains, N.J., where community members engage in numerous volunteer activities, community service, and everyday acts of kindness.

From leading clubs and teaching continuing education and art classes to assisting with religious services and producing the monthly campus newsletter Mountain Matters, residents pitch in to create a strong sense of community at Cedar Crest and create an atmosphere of positivity.

Extending their generosity outside the community, residents support Strengthen Our Sisters, a shelter for abused women; volunteer at local schools; and more. The following are just a few examples of kindness and volunteering found at Cedar Crest: 

Rita Robinson runs Guardian Angels, a group that knits baby hats and hand puppets for children in local hospitals. 

Doris Ulsh assists with Healing the Children, an organization that provides medical care and related services to children in need throughout New Jersey and worldwide. 

Each year, Cedar Crest collects around 200 bags of food and toiletries to donate to the Pequannock Food Pantry. For more than ten years, residents and staff have been participating in the community’s annual food drive to help local families in need.

Items donated included canned fruit and vegetables, coffee, jelly, ketchup, mayonnaise, pancake syrup, deodorant, dish soap, shampoo, tissues, toothbrushes, and toothpaste.

“Cedar Crest residents and staff have been incredibly generous throughout the years by supporting our food drive,” says Philanthropy Manager Lauren Corrente. “Our community comes together during the summer months when the food pantry is low on food items to graciously contribute all they can to help out our neighbors in need.”

The mission of all volunteer groups coincides with the overarching mission of Cedar Crest: sharing gifts to create a community that celebrates life. 

Random acts of kindess

Resident Life Manager Erica Zayat says structured volunteering isn’t the only way community members spread love. Simply walk down the halls at Cedar Crest, and you’ll receive a smile and “hello” from nearly everyone you pass. 

Pet club members watch each other’s dogs or cats during a vacation or illness. 

Barbara Schmitt helps to run Compassionate and Caring Angels, a group that creates small craft items for residents in Cedar Crest’s continuing care neighborhood. “They are small tokens to remind the residents in continuing care that they are not alone and are in the prayers of many,” says Corrente. 

“Random acts of kindness are endless at Cedar Crest. It is what makes the community so special and is so representative of our mission,” says Community Resources Coordinator Kelli Daood.

A two-way street

Volunteering and exhibiting kindness aren’t only beneficial for those on the receiving end. It’s a win-win all around. 

“Our residents who spend their time volunteering and demonstrating random acts of kindness truly understand how much their actions can impact one’s attitude and outlook, not only their own, but also of those around them,” says Zayat. “They are looked to as leaders in the community who embody the spirit of Cedar Crest as an active retirement community.”