Volunteers give the gift of time

SpiriTrust Lutheran volunteers share the gift of time at the holidays and throughout the year.

Tom and Kathy Leese of St. Paul's Lutheran Church deliver gifts donated by congregation members for residents of SpiriTrust Lutheran®, The Village at Kelly Drive.

Tom and Kathy Leese of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church deliver gifts donated by congregation members for residents of SpiriTrust Lutheran®, The Village at Kelly Drive.

SpiriTrust Lutheran® volunteers are always needed and appreciated, but they make a special impact at Christmas. Church groups in particular finds ways to make SpiriTrust Lutheran senior living residents feel recognized at the holidays. Patricia Mummert from St. James Lutheran Church in York learned this when the social ministry program at her church decided to do an angel tree for residents at The Village at Kelly Drive last year.

“We began providing gifts to residents last Christmas,” said Mummert. “We started small – asking for only 20 donation requests last year – but we had so many people eager to help that this year we are asking for at least 25 requests. Everyone was so excited about it because we have members of our congregation who are residents at The Village at Kelly Drive.”

St. Paul’s Lutheran Church and Zion Lutheran Church also provide gifts to residents at The Village at Kelly Drive through angel trees.

“St. Paul’s has been involved for a least 20 years,” recalled Kathy Leese, member of the St. Paul congregation and organizer of its angel tree. “Our members wanted to support those in need in the community and association with the Lutheran church made Kelly Drive a natural choice. Our tree benefits five different local organizations. It makes people feel good to give back this time of year.”

SpiriTrust Lutheran volunteers share the gift of time throughout the year, not just at holidays. In 2015, 4,000+ volunteers provided nearly 42,000 hours of volunteer support to the six SpiriTrust Lutheran® senior living communities. Individuals and groups volunteer for a variety of reasons. Here are some of their stories.

Elaine Joines, who volunteers weekly with her family at The Village at Shrewsbury said she started volunteering in July as a way to connect with older adults following the death of her mother. “Every time we go, I know it is going to be a great experience. Our daughter has formed genuine friendships with many of the residents. I don’t know who is getting more out of our volunteer time – the residents or us!”

Virginia Soule, a pet therapy volunteer at The Village at Gettysburg has a different reason.

“I like to volunteer as a way of giving back to the community,” she reflected. “I regularly visit the community with bunny rabbits. Some residents raised rabbits as children and others have never held a rabbit. Regardless, residents find it very comforting to pet or hold the rabbits and it often stimulates conversation, too.”

Holly Culp, a fourth grade teacher at West Manheim Elementary School, has found a way to engage an entire generation in volunteer work with seniors at The Village at Utz Terrace in Hanover.

“One of our teachers at West Manheim had a grandparent who was a resident at Utz Terrace,” said Culp.  “Because of that relationship each fourth grade class visits the community three times a year.  We do science activities, crafts and an annual service project. There’s a lot of positive dialogue between students and seniors. The kids develop a respect for the older generation and get interested in volunteer work and can’t wait to go back.”

Individuals often make a significant impact. Beth Reilly, resident at The Village at Sprenkle Drive in York is one such volunteer. Recently, she became a volunteer at the new memory support care household at the village.

“My sister died of Alzheimer’s and after seeing how wonderful the new households were, I thought I would like to give back by volunteering there,” said Reilly. “I usually volunteer on Wednesdays, helping with serving food, folding laundry, assisting with exercise and reading stories.”

Jacob Robinson, who started volunteering about two years ago when he was only 11, helps with Bingo and resident hydration once a month at The Village at Luther Ridge in Chambersburg.

“I started visiting the community when my grandmother worked at Luther Ridge,” said Robinson, who knows that people can make a difference at any age. “When she retired, I became a volunteer. I like seeing how happy the residents are when I come and helping those in the community around me.”}