Parkville, Maryland--More Americans than ever are volunteering, according to a federal study released in 2018 by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency that oversees AmeriCorps and Senior Corps. The Volunteering in America report found that 77.34 million adults lent their time and talents through an organization last year.
Martie Noel, a resident of Oak Crest, follows this national trend. A retired teacher of the Baltimore County Public School System, the former resident of Harford County has been active with missionary work coordinated by Mountain Christian Church in Fallston.
Since 2008, she has made three trips to Kenya in support of the Mission of Hope School where she combines a passion for sewing with her love of helping others.
"When exploring this possibility, I initially applied for the 'teachers helping teachers' program given my professional experience. But the sewing ministry caught my eye," recalled Martie.
The prep work for the trips is detailed as she organizes her lessons and packs material. The 16-hour flights can be demanding. And the initial "culture shock" can be real. But the rewards last forever.
"The classes are extensive. We teach sewing skills for eight hours a day or more to teenage girls and young women so they have the opportunity to earn a living. If they pass the course, they receive a treadle sewing machine. This is a life line to a new future," said Martie.
The individual connections and memories are vivid.
"You always feel like you could do more, but then you learn of success stories. In 2011, I made a return trip and met a woman who I had taught three years earlier. She had struggled, and I always wondered how she was doing. But then she had the biggest smile on her face as she showed me a notebook with photos and a summary of her business. She had made it, and I was so proud of her," described Martie.
Her most recent trip occurred in February, 2019. Living at Oak Crest provided her with the peace of mind she didn't have in her previous missions. "This time, I wasn't worried about maintenance issues or power outages at my house," noted Martie, who enjoys many activities at Oak Crest such as Bible Study, pickle ball, and of course, the knitting group. "I could leave knowing everything was secure."
Martie credits the staff of Mountain Christian Church for their long-standing commitment to Mission of Hope. "They do an amazing job of publicizing the project and organizing the travel and teaching logistics. It is so thorough. Since you can literally play a part in changing a life, I would encourage others to get involved," said Martie.
About Oak Crest: Oak Crest, one of 20 continuing care retirement communities developed and managed by Erickson Living®, is situated on a scenic 87-acre campus in Parkville, Maryland. The not-for-profit community of more than 2,100 residents and 1,250 employees is governed by its own board of directors, affiliated with National Senior Campuses, who provide independent financial and operational oversight of Oak Crest. Additional information can be found at OakCrestCommunity.com.