GAITHERSBURG, Md. - A dozen female models, volunteers ages 65 through 90, will walk the Fall Fashion Show runway Wed., Oct. 17, at 2 p.m. at Asbury Methodist Village’s Rosborough Cultural Arts and Wellness Center. The show benefits the Alzheimer’s Association, and afterwards, attendees can “shop” for modeled clothes and accessories.
Resident-model Mary Ebinger, 82, has been president of the continuing care retirement community’s largest resident-run volunteer organization, the Asbury Guild, for four years. Her husband Warren, 84, soon will take over her post. “We’ve been married 61 years, and we feel like we’re 55,” Ebinger said. “We believe life is an adventure. I think living and volunteering here, being involved in such meaningful ways, is an adventure for many of our residents who work so hard to make a difference. They also know how much they are appreciated.”
“The Fashion Show is just one aspect of the active volunteering lifestyle here,” said Sharon Bennett, Asbury Methodist Village volunteer services coordinator. “Volunteering is very much a part of our culture. I have 600 active volunteers who live here – ‘people with purpose’ – and many of them don’t think about the hours they put in volunteering.”
Resident Betty Tarbell volunteers in Bennett’s office by inputting volunteer hours into the computer and serving as office gopher. “I feel 21,” she says, although she admits to being in her 80s. “I’ve been volunteering about 20 years. It gets me up in the morning and starts my day off. Some days I’m home by noon, sometimes later. I love my work. When you’re a volunteer, you don’t count the hours. It’s something to look forward to.”
According to Senior Corps, more than 26 million senior citizens have already discovered the sense of purpose and accomplishment that comes from volunteering. Studies by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) indicate that senior citizens who volunteer may enjoy better health than their non-volunteering peers: a longer lifespan, greater ability to remain functional in their later years and a reduced chance of developing depression.
Asbury Methodist Village residents have their choice of numerous ways to give of their time and talents – everything from tutoring and literacy programs to delivering Meals on Wheels. Some residents enjoy producing and hosting shows at Asbury’s own television station. Others teach classes ranging from computer skills to English as a second language. Residents of Wilson Health Care Center join other volunteers every week in making more than 100 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for a local homeless shelter.
Many residents volunteer with The Asbury Guild, which provides life enriching opportunities for residents of Asbury’s Kindley Assisted Living and Wilson Health Care Center and supports the Benevolent Care Fund for residents who happen to outlive their resources. The Guild raises approximately $50,000 a year and donates $1,500 each month for resident activities. Other projects have included building a chapel as well as a balcony garden off the dining room in transitional care, providing funds for several new washers and dryers and a multimedia project that allows easier access to movies with streaming capabilities. Guild members also deliver birthday cards and holiday gift bags to nearly 500 Wilson and Kindley residents.
“There are endless opportunities, and the most important thing is finding a match between residents and volunteer opportunities so everyone is happy,” said Bennett. “Once we get that right mix, then it’s nothing but success.”
Asbury Methodist Village is a CARF-CCAC and EAGLE-accredited continuing care retirement community that is part of Asbury, a management organization providing life-enhancing services for older adults. Asbury is ranked by LeadingAge and Ziegler Capital Markets Group’s AZ 100 as the 15th-largest not-for-profit multi-site senior living organization in the country. Asbury Methodist Village is also a member of LifeSpan Network.