Making a difference

Maris Grove volunteers are tireless when it comes to helping others

Created date

July 19th, 2018
Maris Grove resident Winnie Meyer (holding plaque) and some of her 57-member Winnie’s Winners team. Her team raised $5,500 to take first place in fundraising at the Ronald McDonald House of Delaware’s 5K Run/Walk this April.

Maris Grove resident Winnie Meyer (holding plaque) and some of her 57-member Winnie’s Winners team. Her team raised $5,500 to take first place in fundraising at the Ronald McDonald House of Delaware’s 5K Run/Walk this April.

People who live at Maris Grove aren’t whiling away their so-called golden years. They’re giving back to help others.

Community Resources Manager Sally Christy estimates that more than 450 residents volunteer somewhere, which equates to more than 25 % of Maris Grove’s population.

On campus, community members volunteer by taking leading roles in its 150-plus clubs and activities. For instance, they can staff the on-site television studio or join the Blanket Circle to make blankets for sick children through the Linus Project.

The treasure that keeps giving

Treasure Chest, the campus resale shop, boasts 75 volunteers. They make the sales, package the purchases, prepare the bills, and collect the money. The shop’s interesting treasures and low prices attract neighbors, Maris Grove staff, guests, and relatives alike.

Pam Wright chairs the Treasure Chest Board. “We donate our proceeds to Maris Grove’s three major charities,” she says, “the Resident Care Fund, the Scholars’ Fund, and the Employee Appreciation Fund. Last year, we donated a total of $27,000.”

The Resident Care Fund fulfills Erickson Living’s promise of a home for life by assisting those individuals who, through no fault of their own, have outlived their financial resources. It allows them to continue living at the community among their neighbors. All the details are in the Residence and Care Agreement.

Maris Grove’s philanthropy department mounts annual campaigns to solicit for both the Resident Care Fund and the Scholars’ Fund. Campus groups and activities also contribute.

For example, Souper Sunday, a harvest meal featuring produce from residents’ gardens, raises money, and woodshop members donate proceeds from making furniture repairs for neighbors and from sales of their wooden holiday gifts.

Volunteering beyond the gate

Many community members volunteer at their churches or at local hospitals. At a campus volunteer fair this April, other organizations also sought recruits.

Maris Grove’s Resident Outreach Club, chaired by Gerri Eisenstein, pairs community members and clubs with charitable organizations in Delaware and Chester counties.

“Residents volunteer on campus,” says Gerri, “but we wanted to reach out to the larger community. Everyone who contributes makes a difference, and the more we give, the better the community becomes.”

The group started by collecting items like mittens and winter hats, old towels for the SPCA, and food for local food cupboards. This year’s food collection totaled 700 pounds. The woodshop helped out by making the group’s collection boxes.

Resident Outreach has also paired the campus clay club with Empty Bowls, an international program to end hunger. Members make soup bowls year-round, more than 200 last year.

Each February, dining services prepares a special soup and bread luncheon; community members can purchase a bowl and keep it as a reminder that hunger exists throughout the world. The money goes to a local food bank.

Following their faith, helping their neighbors

Maris Grove’s three faith groups also claim many volunteers.

They lead Bible studies and rosary groups, read scripture at religious services in the campus interfaith chapel, and help with the annual Passover Seder dinner and the Hanukkah candle lightings, to which all residents are welcome.

Maris Grove’s on-site continuing care community boasts 150 volunteers who, through commitments such as pet therapy visitors, hair salon escorts, and simply paying friendly visits to their neighbors, make a difference in the lives of their neighbors who need additional care.

“Spending time with someone is what’s important,” says Program Manager Luann Davis. “It’s the journey, not the destination.”

Because Maris Grove values its volunteers, individual departments hold volunteer appreciation breakfasts and parties throughout the year.

‘Winnie’s Winners’ win big in Ronald McDonald House fundraiser

The Ronald McDonald House of Delaware hosted an ice cream social at Maris Grove this May to honor Winnie Meyer and her team of “Winnie’s Winners.” Her team raised $5,500 for the charity, taking first place for fundraising at its annual 5K Run/Walk in April.

Winnie, who moved to Maris Grove from Wilmington, Del., volunteered with the organization for many years and has organized a team for the fundraising event for over ten.

Her team also took second place for participation. Twenty-one Maris Grove community members and staff, 23 student servers, and 13 other friends of Winnie’s took part.

Winnie also volunteers at Maris Grove. In particular, she works with its philanthropy department on special projects to benefit the resident care fund. Off campus, she volunteers with Encore, an upscale boutique that supports Chester County Hospital.

—Jacqueline Kimball