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Answering the call to service

Volunteers making an impact at Highland Springs

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April 7th, 2017
Highland Springs residents Mary and Joe Bendzick have found it’s easier than ever to volunteer at the North Dallas community where they live, with many opportunities just a short walk from their apartment.

Highland Springs residents Mary and Joe Bendzick have found it’s easier than ever to volunteer at the North Dallas community where they live, with many opportunities just a short walk from their apartment.

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

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 Highland Springs, the Erickson Living community in North Dallas, are taking that mandate to heart, not just in observance of National Volunteer Week, which runs April 23–39, but as a way of life.

Opportunity to help others

Jo Ann MacDonald first started volunteering after her children were grown. She spent one day a week at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital and also volunteered at her church, Preston Hollow Presbyterian, whenever an opportunity arose.

“I enjoy volunteering,” says Jo Ann. “It’s a good way to meet new people.”

After she moved to Highland Springs in December 2006, Jo Ann sought out new ways to help others. Currently, she volunteers with Circle of Friends, a group that takes meals to neighbors who aren’t feeling well. She also volunteers at Highland Springs’ continuing care neighborhood, assisting staff and interacting with residents.

“It’s easy to get involved here,” says Jo Ann. “All I have to do is walk down the hall, and the opportunities are right there.”

Meaningful endeavors

Joe and Mary Bendzick are long-time proponents of giving back.

“When Mary and I lived in Argyle [Denton County], we made the decision to get involved,” says Joe. “We wanted to spend our time helping others.”

The couple followed through on their commitment to civic service. Joe volunteered for more than 30 years with the Denton State School [now the Denton State Supported Living Center], which provides support and services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Mary volunteered in the Holy Family Thrift Store in Denton, with proceeds benefitting the Loreto House, which provides resources like sonograms and adoption assistance to women with unplanned pregnancies.

“We found that helping others enriched our own lives,” says Mary.

Many ways to get involved

When Joe and Mary moved to Highland Springs in July 2012, they wanted to continue their volunteer efforts.

The couple currently volunteers once a week in Highland Springs’ continuing care neighborhood. Joe, a master gardener, has been instrumental in coordinating the community’s Living Tribute project, which gives residents the opportunity to purchase a tree to be planted at Highland Springs in honor or memory of a loved one.

Mary volunteers in the Treasure Chest, the community’s on-site resale shop. 

“The Treasure Chest provides a win-win opportunity for Highland Springs,” says Mary. “Residents are able to [donate] sell items they no longer want or need, and the money goes right back into the community.”

In 2016, the Treasure Chest donated more than $20,000 to Highland Springs’ Resident Care Fund, which helps residents who experience a genuine and unforeseen change in their financial situation (the Residence and Care Agreement has complete details).

“Working in the Treasure Chest is so much fun; it doesn’t feel like work,” says Mary. “It’s just a nice way to help out.”

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