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Acts of kindness are contagious at Seabrook

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February 20th, 2017
Seabrook volunteers assembled turkey and cheese sandwiches before placing them in paper bags, along with an apple, a bag of chips, a bottle of water, and a hand-written note with words of encouragement.

Seabrook volunteers assembled turkey and cheese sandwiches before placing them in paper bags, along with an apple, a bag of chips, a bottle of water, and a hand-written note with words of encouragement.

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 Seabrook, the Erickson Living community in Tinton Falls, N.J., where community members engage in numerous volunteer activities, community service, and everyday acts of kindness.

“It is heartwarming for me to see our residents look beyond themselves to the needs of others as they volunteer with children in the local school or take the Eucharist to homebound residents or pack lunches for the homeless,” says Pastoral Ministries Manager David Bowman.

From making blankets for newborn babies in New Jersey to volunteering at the Food Bank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties and nearly everything in between, Seabrook neighbors serve each other and the greater community. 

“At our August meeting, we collected 56 blankets that went to Jersey Shore University Medical Center. We are a group of dedicated women, and we would gladly welcome new members who share our mission and who can knit or crochet,” says RoseMary Cheek of the Blankie Makers.

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

Random acts

Volunteer Coordinator Judy Seger says structured volunteering isn’t the only way residents spread love. Simply walk down the halls at Seabrook 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. 

Retired social worker Shirley Winrow makes friendly visits to neighbors to simply brighten their day.

Mae Deas organizes birthday parties for neighbors.  

“Random acts of kindness are endless at Seabrook. It is what makes the community so special and is so representative of our mission,” Seger says.

Bowman says volunteering and exhibiting kindness isn’t only beneficial for those on the receiving end. It’s a win-win all around. 

“I find that those residents who do share their love with others are more content and at peace with themselves, and then it becomes contagious,” Bowman says. “There is a snowball effect to being engaged in making life better for others; once others see the satisfaction that comes in giving of oneself, they, too, become interested in serving.”

Supporting families in need

For the past six years, volunteers from Seabrook have made sandwiches for distribution to families in need in the local community in partnership with nonprofit group Bridges at the Shore.

Beverly Hausker and Bobbi Ostar launched the resident group Seabrook for Bridges. The group helps Bridges at the Shore with its mission of providing assistance to people in need living in Monmouth County. 

“Each year, the group also has a project of purchasing school supplies for Bridges children,” Beverly says. “In December, the group provides gifts for the children that include new books, new clothing, and Christmas stocking stuffers. Funds for these projects are donations from members of Seabrook for Bridges and their friends who support this cause.”