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Answering the call to service

Volunteers making an impact at Eagle’s Trace

Created date

April 6th, 2017
Eagle’s Trace resident Bill Mellin volunteers his time each week to facilitate a men’s club at the community’s continuing care neighborhood.

Eagle’s Trace resident Bill Mellin volunteers his time each week to facilitate a men’s club at the community’s continuing care neighborhood.

Ever since President Nixon established National Volunteer Week in 1974, ensuing presidents have championed the benefits of civic engagement. 

President George H.W. Bush, in his 1991 State of the Union address, issued a call to service:

“We all have something to give. So, if you know how to read, find someone who can’t. If you’ve got a hammer, find a nail. If you’re not hungry, not lonely, not in trouble, seek out someone who is. Join the community of conscience. Do the hard work of freedom. And that will define the state of our Union.”

President Obama, in his last National Volunteer Week proclamation as president, asserted, “People of all ages can volunteer, and anyone can, through the smallest of acts, do their part to improve the lives of others.”

People who live at Eagle’s Trace are taking that mandate to heart, not just in observance of National Volunteer Week, which runs April 23–29, but as a way of life.

Building a sense of community

Resident Bill Mellin facilitates a weekly men’s club in the West Houston community’s continuing care neighborhood.

“After my wife passed away, I received hundreds of hugs and kind words from residents and staff at Eagle’s Trace,” says Bill. “I don’t know if I would have made it if I hadn’t lived here. It really showed me the value of community.”

Now Bill, a retired computer programmer, does his part to encourage a sense of community among the men in continuing care.

“We talk about cars and sports and what we did during our careers,” says Bill. “Some of the men with memory issues can’t recall recent events, but they remember details from their past. It’s a chance to be social and visit, and it gives me a purpose—something to do beyond myself.”

Hundreds of Eagle’s Trace residents share Bill’s commitment to help others. Resident Services Coordinator Kristen Kennedy keeps track of 248 residents’ volunteer hours but says there are many more who don’t report hours and continue with their work of quietly doing good.

“In 2016, Eagle’s Trace residents recorded 30,077 volunteer hours,” says Kennedy. “Those are just the ones we know about.”

Helping future generations

One of the community’s most successful volunteer initiatives is now in its seventh year. A group of resident volunteers serve as math mentors to the first grade classes at Barbara Bush Elementary School. Twice a month, a group of dedicated volunteers spend the morning working alongside the school’s first grade teachers to reinforce math concepts. 

Pat Osborne, a retired teacher, helped launch the collaboration between the school and Eagle’s Trace. 

“The kids get so excited when they see us coming down the hall,” says Pat. “Barbara Bush has a diverse student population. At last count, there were 22 languages represented among the first grade students. Many don’t live near grandparents, so we’re happy to build that type of relationship with them.”

Easy to give back

Pat says living at Eagle’s Trace makes it easy to volunteer. 

“There are so many opportunities within Eagle’s Trace and in the greater Houston area,” says Pat. “We have a wonderful Community Outreach Committee that comes up with some unique ways to help others.”

One of the Community Outreach Committee’s recent initiatives, Coins for Hunger, raised more than $1,700 for the Houston Food Bank.

“Each resident received a red Solo cup to fill up with loose change,” says Pat. “It was a simple way to help those in need.”