American educator, author, and orator Booker T. Washington once remarked, "Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others."
These words ring true for Rod and Carole Hartless, community members at Devonshire, an Erickson Senior Living community at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
In addition to volunteering on Devonshire's resident committees, the couple generously donates to several medical research hospitals across the nation through their foundation.
"I think there is a lot of truth in the notion that you gain so much more than you give," says Rod.
When Rod and Carole were researching their retirement living options, they didn't have to look far.
"Devonshire is only a mile away from our former house," says Rod.
Drawn to the community's state-of-the-art amenities, maintenance-free apartment homes, and active lifestyle, the couple was sold.
"It was an easy adjustment for us. We were ready to give up the responsibilities of a maintaining a large house," says Carole.
After moving into their apartment home in 2018, Rod and Carole quickly adjusted to their new lifestyle, expanding their circle of friends tenfold by participating in an array of activities.
Currently, Rod serves as chair of the landscape committee and Carole dedicates her time and talent to both the landscape and house committees.
"The resort-style atmosphere at Devonshire makes it a beautiful place to call home," says Carole. "The foliage is lush and tropical. In fact, I am referred to as the 'Orchid Lady' because our landscape committee collects orchid plants donated by the residents. We attach them to the trees around campus. We have over 600 plants, which create an awesome display during the winter months."
A lasting legacy
When they're not busy with committee members and friends at Devonshire, you'll find Rod and Carole managing the Hartless Foundation.
"Because we don't have children, we knew we wanted our resources to be a gift to someone else," says Rod. "When we started the foundation in 1984, we did not have a lot of direction. We just wrote a check whenever we found a charity we wanted to support."
Over time, the couple became more intentional in deciding where and how to gift their resources.
"Eventually, we came to the conclusion that the major hospitals in our country do the most good for the most people," says Rod. "Using the U.S. News and World Report's Best Hospitals list as a guide, we set up endowments at the Mayo Clinic for cancer research, the Cleveland Clinic for heart research, Johns Hopkins for arthritis research, and the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern for Alzheimer's research."
He continues, "The best part about an endowment is that, if invested properly, our gift will go on in perpetuity, continuing to do wonderful work for others."
After setting up endowments at the hospitals, the couple continued to look for opportunities to gift their resources. Rod, who volunteered at Jupiter Medical Center in the rehabilitation department and as a driver for motor aid, set up an endowment there.
Their generosity extends to furry friends as well. "We both love animals," adds Carole. "My horse Zeus and my yellow lab Maia both lived long lives, thanks to the care they received at the University of Florida Veterinary School. As a result, we set up an endowment there, as well."
Wanting to give back to the medical community even more, Rod and Carole found a way to support future medical professionals.
"We wanted to make an impact on the nursing shortage," says Rod. "In 2008, we set up a nursing scholarship at the Cleveland Clinic in Florida. The purpose of this scholarship is to support employees within the organization who are ready to advance their nursing careers."
"In 2014, based on the successful outcomes of our scholarship recipients, we doubled the scholarship, granting an additional award each year--this time to an employee at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland," notes Carole.
As of this year, the couple has supported 23 nurses.
For Rod and Carole, the desire to give knows no bounds. In addition to their organized efforts, the couple donates freely to organizations whose work means something to them, including Save the Chimpanzees in Fort Pierce. They also sponsor a service dog each year.
"It's rewarding, knowing that you are helping so many people and animals," says Carole.
"These endowments will go on forever," says Rod. "They will help so many people. I only wish we had more to give!"
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