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Home for life

At Maris Grove, neighbors support neighbors

Created date

October 16th, 2017
Maris Grove Treasure Chest volunteers Ruth Winbourn (left) and Jean VanVeen amidst some of the treasures that await visitors to the campus resale shop.

Maris Grove Treasure Chest volunteers Ruth Winbourn (left) and Jean VanVeen amidst some of the treasures that await visitors to the campus resale shop.


When people move to Maris Grove, they gain a carefree lifestyle and also peace of mind, says Director of Philanthropy Barbara Burri. 

Burri oversees the Delaware County, Pa., Erickson Living community’s Benevolent Care Fund, a program she considers critical to the health of the community: “It provides support to residents who, despite careful planning and through no fault of their own, outlive their financial resources.” (The Residence and Care Agreement has all the details.)

Community effort

Maris Grove residents, campus groups, corporate partners, and family members all make generous donations to the fund. 

Through this July, for example, the 2017 donations from the Treasure Chest, the campus thrift shop managed by resident volunteers, had totaled $11,000.

Community members also give in response to Burri’s annual fundraising letters. 

About 1,500 people live in the community’s three neighborhoods. The fund enables individuals experiencing genuine and unforeseen financial adversity to continue living at Maris Grove in their home and among their friends, receiving the care they need.

Community members know that a serious medical emergency or an ongoing illness could be all it takes to put them or one of their neighbors into dire financial straits.

“Families have told me how grateful they are that their parents are at Maris Grove,” says Burri. “They don’t have to worry should their parents incur tremendous medical bills; a lot of families couldn’t take on that kind of financial responsibility.”

Fresh ideas

To build the fund, Burri has created simple, convenient opportunities to give. Some of them also draw the community outside Maris Grove into its philanthropic effort.

Maris Grove used to hold annual themed galas, festive affairs highlighted by incredible resident-designed and crafted décor. Think prom-night gym transformations on steroids. The elaborate decorations rivaled professional stage sets.

Needless to say, the galas required a lot of work. Now, Burri publishes an annual Business Cares booklet. The booklet contributes significantly to the fund and helps it maintain a healthy balance.

Given to every community member, the booklet contains ads from local businesses and from Maris Grove-approved vendors such as real estate agents and senior move managers. The ads bring in about $19,000 a year. 

“That’s really meaningful,” Burri says. “It’s the number-one way we connect with the businesses around us and also grow the fund.

“Through the booklet, businesses thank residents for patronizing them,” she adds. “In turn, we ask residents to say thank you when they visit businesses that have taken ads.”

Even Erickson Advantage buys a page in the booklet. Erickson Advantage, Erickson Living’s health insurance plan with a Medicare contract, is available exclusively to people who live at its communities. 

A Heart of Gold buyback program also raises funds. Jewelers who come to campus and buy gold items that community members no longer want donate 15% of their purchase price to the fund.

There’s also a restaurant-linked opportunity called Dining for Dollars. When residents eat at any of Maris Grove’s six campus restaurants, they select from the extensive menus and creative cuisine of the community’s Signature Dining program. 

Through Dining for Dollars, folks who enjoy exploring area restaurants can dine out and donate at the same time. 

When residents identify themselves to participating restaurants, the restaurants save those receipts and give a percentage of the month’s total to the fund. 

It’s one more way that Maris Grove residents help their fellow neighbors.