Poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou once remarked, "I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver." Taking these words to heart, community members at Devonshire, the Erickson Senior Living community at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., decided that 2022 would be a year of giving.
"Our community is made up of very generous people who are always looking for ways to help those who are less fortunate," says Community Resource Manager Marty Bores. "This year, a concerted effort was made by community members to do even more."
Collectively, at the start of 2022, a charity or nonprofit was identified - for each quarter of the year - that would benefit from volunteer hours and donations.
"There are so many organizations in need," says community member Barbie Traum, who helped lead Devonshire's partnership with Alzheimer's Community Care and Dress for Success. "I'm happy to be involved in any capacity!"
First on the list
In January, Devonshire collected items for Jupiter Medical Thrift Shop, where proceeds from sales support Jupiter Medical Center's patient and visitor services.
With over 200 boxes full of donations, including clothing, jewelry, and household items, two moving trucks were required for the job.
"The day was organized exquisitely, and our residents were very generous," says community member Natalie Siegel, one of eight people leading the project.
Next, the community came together in support of both the local Alzheimer's Community Care and Dress for Success, which provides professional attire and a network of support for low-income women as they move through the job search process.
Barbie and her neighbor Mona Osterman led the two-part effort.
First, Barbie and Mona's team of volunteers gathered well-loved jewelry and handbags that were no longer being used. They then sorted the items and marked them for resale at $5, $10, and $15. Community members and staff were invited to shop, with all sales - a grand total of $2,300 - going directly to Alzheimer's Community Care.
"We could have picked any organization to help," says Barbie, "but my mother suffered from dementia, and as a result, I've always been drawn to efforts that support the treatment of Alzheimer's. Alzheimer's Community Care is a wonderful local resource for those in need."
But the giving did not end there. To finish the two-part project, Barbie, Mona, and their volunteer team donated the remaining, unsold items to Dress for Success.
"Dress for Success was very pleased with what we accomplished!" says Barbie. "We were so fortunate - with all the help and donations we received. It was an uplifting opportunity for everyone."
A summer of service
Following the success of the communitywide sale, Devonshire hosted a food drive in support of the Palm Beach County Food Bank. The food bank, created to help children, families, and seniors across the county, fights hunger by providing 200 partner agencies with food, programs, and resources.
Natalie and her neighbor Marcia Harris started the effort by distributing flyers, which listed and described the types of food that could be donated. During the drive, five donation bins were placed around campus - bins that were eventually filled to the brim with more than 84 bags of food.
"The effort was rewarding," says Natalie. "Devonshire community members are so generous - they exceeded our goal!"
Also this summer, Devonshire began working with Urban Youth Impact, serving the most at-risk, inner-city youth in Palm Beach County, primarily through an award-winning, after-school program.
"Many of these kids have parents that work two or more jobs, so they come home from school to no one and no meal on the table," explains Bores. "Urban Youth Impact teaches kids how to make basic meals and care for themselves. Our community members are able to donate the one thing that many of these children's parents cannot, and that's time."
Season of giving
This holiday season, Devonshire is continuing to partner with West Palm Beach's Toys for Tots program.
"The collection is an important annual tradition at Devonshire," adds Bores. "Our community members enjoy shopping for these special gifts, each of which will help make the holidays magical for children in need."
As the community looks forward to the New Year, the desire to help others continues to grow.
"At Devonshire, we are a family, not just a community," says Barbie. "We take that very seriously. It means a lot - that together, as a family, we can help those who need it the most."
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