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Teamwork, the Devonshire way

Volunteers pack food, clothing for school children in Haiti

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February 16th, 2017
Devonshire community members pack food bags to help feed hungry and undernourished children in Haiti.

Devonshire community members pack food bags to help feed hungry and undernourished children in Haiti.

People who live at Devonshire at PGA National, Erickson living’s senior living community in Palm Beach Gardens, don’t believe in spending the day on their sofas. 

But late last fall they sat for a good cause. Thirteen Devonshire community members joined a diverse gathering of other area volunteers to pack food for school children in Haiti. Donations of clothing were also packed.

Last year’s effort held added importance due to the severe damage done by Hurricane Matthew in Haiti’s Bondeau region.

The Haiti project is part of a larger national effort, but St. Mark’s Episcopal Church and School has hosted it locally. 

When three Devonshire residents who are also members of St. Marks decided to participate, word spread. Their Devonshire neighbors, some from different churches and some from different faith communities, asked if they could help too. 

Of course they could, says Shirley Diuro. Shirley lives at Devonshire and belongs to St. Mark’s. 

“People who live here get involved in whatever efforts appeal to them,” she says, “and the Haiti project is a very big thing. We’ve been participating in it for three years.”

‘Blue team’ effort

On the appointed day, Devonshire’s volunteers, designated the “blue team,” arrived at St. Mark’s to await their shift in the school gym. 

Their work involved putting carefully measured amounts of soy, vegetables, beans, spices, and rice into a pre-labeled plastic bag, which was then hermetically sealed and placed into a shipping carton. Each bag provides six nutritious meals for needy, hungry, and undernourished school children.

The blue team packed 216 bags, which will provide 1,296 meals. 

Overall, the day’s efforts resulted in 100,000 meals and more than 150,000 boxes of clothing being shipped to Haiti. 

“It was a huge team effort,” says Devonshire participant Bob Frasier. “I’m thrilled we were able to help.”

Other organizations involved included Temple Judea in Palm Beach Gardens and Episcopal Church of the Advent in Palm City, Fla.

The giving spirit

Volunteering comes second nature to community members of Devonshire at PGA National.

As a result, attendance at last November’s volunteer luncheon nearly filled Devonshire’s Stratford Performing Arts Center.

Many members volunteer on Resident Council committees. The library committee, for example, is solely responsible for maintaining and updating Devonshire’s beautiful and well-stocked clubhouse library. 

Volunteers with the welcome committee help new neighbors feel at home at Devonshire, and members of the gardening committee tend an herb garden that provides fresh herbs to Devonshire’s culinary department.

There’s even a movie committee whose members choose what films to show in Devonshire’s intimate clubhouse theater.

Other opportunities range from volunteering at Chatsworth, Devonshire’s rehabilitation and continuing care community, to assembling bags of back-to-school supplies for school age children of Devonshire employees. 

Residents’ willingness to do for others underscores the mantra of Devonshire Director of Resident Life Marty Bores: “Always be kinder than you need to be.”