Senior volunteers make up resident committees at Ardenwoods retirement living community in Arden, North Carolina. Kari Schrader, Community Life Services Director, has said that residents feel an ownership in Ardenwoods when they volunteer to lead one of the on-campus committees as well as when they reach out to help others. Ardenwoods, only a stone’s throw from the charming towns of Asheville and Hendersonville, boasts access to many amenities, educational, and social opportunities, while having a chance to help others through volunteering.
Volunteering Means Ownership
Resident committees help run the community. Seniors volunteers in independent living oversee areas such as activities, wellness, food and beverage, and building and grounds. All committee leaders are either appointed or invited, except for the executive council, whose chairs are elected.
“Volunteering gives our seniors an avenue to be social as well as feel an ownership in the community,” said Kari. “I meet with the chair of the activities committee twice a month. I charge her with finding out things like, ‘What are you hearing at dinner? What can we do better?’ The committee always comes to me with lists of what’s going on, what they’ve seen and heard.”
Resident committee leaders are also tasked with providing a report at the community’s monthly resident forum. “They take questions from residents and help coordinate efforts to answer them. For instance, we recently revamped the take-home boxes we use in the dining room – to make sure they are ‘green’ and meet state standards. Residents were very involved in that.”
Helping Others Within Ardenwoods
On National Volunteer Day this year, Kari and staff held a luncheon on the patio for Ardenwoods volunteers. “We have a gentleman who is a woodworker. He collects and makes prizes for bingo. Three residents are the librarians for our on-campus library. Another resident teaches English to a non-English speaking resident of the community. We have an AARP volunteer who does tax prep for residents, and yet another woman leads our on-campus choir.”
Ardenwoods also has a Rocking Chair Readers group, lead by a gentleman with an English and theater background, as well as volunteers who maintain the two large trails on campus, where residents may occasionally see a black bear! There are a range of volunteer opportunities for seniors of all interests.
At Heather Glen, Ardenwoods’ assisted living community, volunteers from independent living visit regularly to play games, call bingo, help tend gardens, be a companion in a sing-a-long, and even bring their own pets to visit, shared Kari.
Senior Volunteers Getting Out and About
“Several of our residents volunteer in town at the University of North Carolina Asheville’s OLLI Center (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute), a senior college within the university,” said Kari. “We also have a resident, Betty Franks, who is really involved in her church and helps prepare Veterans meals there once a month. We have a bucket on campus where residents can donate toward the food bank at this church. Betty makes sure those donations get delivered.”
Betty, age 80, also participates in Ardenwoods’ on-campus choir and is one of the librarians. She also plays Scrabble with Heather Glen residents each week. Betty shared that she truly enjoys being active and helpful. “[Volunteering] helps me to be doing things. I think I got this from my parents – they were always volunteering. It helps to have a sense of purpose. I’m happier and healthier when I’m active.”
Kari added, “This is a great environment to be in. It’s great to see the way staff and residents pull together in a positive way – there’s a unique spirit. Everybody looks out for one another. Getting out of your car in the morning, this is a great place to step into.”
Want to learn more about becoming one of our engaged senior volunteers at Ardenwoods senior living community? Get in touch with us at 828-684-7330.