Bring the real you, apply and repeat
We are experiencing new trends in volunteerism. Resident volunteers are not only responding to predetermined needs, but also they are bringing their expertise and leadership to the table in service of others. As this phenomenon spreads, we are noticing greater personal satisfaction, community engagement and overall well-being.
People facing retirement today want to continue to impact their community, and that is precisely what the people featured in this story are doing. They have all experienced a rebirth or a renaissance of sorts. They are taking their lifetime of knowledge and reapplying it for the greater good of their friends and neighbors.
Meet Tech Savy Schmoyer
Dick Schmoyer likes to figure things out. After earning a BS in Electrical Engineering from Penn State University, he became employed at Pennsylvania Power & Light (PP&L) where he served as a computer programmer for four years and an engineer for the system planning department for 30 more years. He later contracted for the Pennsylvania-New Jersey-Maryland Interconnection that helps deliver power throughout the tri-state area. To finish out his impressive career, he served as President of Bally Savings Bank. In that role, he oversaw general administration of the bank and managed the organization’s technology functions.
Here at Peter Becker Community (PBC), Dick uses his can-do attitude to help and teach others. As a self-professed computer hobbyist, he chairs the PBC Computer Club that assists residents with computer problems and provides technology training. It’s not unusual to see him setting up someone’s laptop or helping a fellow resident get connected on Facebook or Skype. On one occasion Dick helped two residents make a live video connection to their granddaughter’s wedding in Austria. He also keeps busy coordinating our volunteer driver program (which makes sure others get to and from their important appointments on time) and our hospitality team (which welcomes new residents). Dick has also held several leadership positions here on campus, including serving as Resident Representative to the PBC Board of Directors, as President of the PBC Resident’s Association and as a current member of the PBC Auxiliary Board.
Sing-Along with Sally
Sally Moyer has been playing the piano since age seven and she hasn’t stopped since. As a teenager, she was named church pianist and began giving private piano lessons in her home. Later, she became a music teacher at a local school district and continued her music ministry at church. When she decided to pursue a new career as a Licensed Practical Nurse in the mid-80s, she used her weekend dinner breaks to play piano for the residents right here at Peter Becker Community. And when Sally and her husband relocated to Florida, she started a monthly music therapy program for Alzheimer’s patients at a nearby retirement community.
Now a resident at PBC, Sally continues to share her passion for music. She regularly plays piano for Sunday chapel services, special events and weekly activities. She also hosts “Sing-Along with Sally,”a Sunday night gathering of fellow residents and friends. Sally believes that God brought her back to PBC in part to use her gifts to inspire and encourage others. “My prayer is that I can play for as long as I’m here.”
The Right Dan for the Job
Dan Gallagher is charismatic, humble and loves his country. He attributes his long career in industry management and experience as a senior non-commissioned officer in the military as placing him in good stead to lead the PBC Veterans Club. Dan has seen monthly meetings grow in attendance from 8 to 55 per meeting. In addition to the growing attendance, Dan has seen and been part of other changes. At the vets suggestion, a “Buck Basket” is passed at every meeting and the proceeds are donated to a local needy veteran or veterans organization. This year the PBC Veterans Group will donate $1,000. There is an annual day trip to a place of interest. This year they traveled with 82 vets, spouses and friends to a shore resort for a day of lunch and fun. A Christmas Gala closes out the year with a presentation of the Buck Basket proceeds at the December meeting. Dan applies a principle he learned in the military as part of his leadership: “Don’t tell me why we CAN’T do something, tell me why we CAN do it.”
Going for Brooke
Suzanne Brooke is a woman of many talents. In her early years, she received an Associate’s degree in Retail & Merchandise Management from Becker Junior College and completed an internship with the upscale Bonwit Teller department store in New York City. She then began her retail career at the original Wanamaker’s in Philadelphia before transferring to the King of Prussia branch to manage 10 accessory departments. She liked change, however, and explored several different professional paths. Her next job saw her employed as a pharmacy tech (who also handled the organization’s administration and finances), and she later served a 17-year stint at Schulmerich Bells as a receptionist and handbell/chimes salesperson.
Today, Suzanne uses her know-how in fashion and retail to manage the PBC Thrift Shop. Under her leadership, the store has updated its look, expanded its clothing inventory and opened a new annex for books, games and household items. On any given day, you can find her freshening up the clothing racks and welcoming customers. She is also took on the role as President of the PBC Auxiliary in January 2018. Her diverse background in sales and management has equipped her well for these important responsibilities.
We Love Our Bus Driver
Vern Kratz has 16 years of driving coach (part time) for Perkiomen Tours and 10+ years of driving a bus for Generations of Indian Valley. Those experiences made it an easy transition to help Peter Becker Community with trips. Vern works closely with Irma Burns, who coordinates the trips and activities for residents. According to Irma, “We just love him. He’s fun. He jokes around and makes the bus ride relaxing and enjoyable for everyone. We completely trust him and it is thanks to his experiences we are going places that we haven’t gone before.”
Seeing Things Clearly
Low vision is a challenge that affects 14 million Americans. Jeannette Schmoyer was diagnosed as legally blind in her youth. She openly shares her story and has spent her life helping and advocating for people with low vision. Meeting her face to face immediately reveals her positivity. When she moved here, she had so many people asking her about her experiences that she decided to start a vision support group that helps people find solutions to their particular vision challenges. She also teaches people how to use adaptive devices. According to Jeannette, “There are so many solutions available today that no one should allow low vision to stop them from contributing or engaging in life.” Her mission is clear: to help people with vision challenges continue to lead rewarding lives.
But that’s not all, Jeannette has also created something using her upbeat personality. It is the Smile-A -While Club which meets two times a month to share life’s lighter, funnier moments. You will find this group reading jokes, watching videos and sharing humor and happiness.
There are many others who share a similar story. PBC is a place where it is easy for people to find their own personal niche and create a life to engage in…one that brings his or her lifetime of knowledge and puts it to good use.
Dressing Up the Thrift Shop With Fashion Sense
by Colleen Algeo, Communications Coordinator
It appears as if Linda Kratz dreamed her ideal retirement into life. She wanted a lot of the usual things like a place with good food, bright open rooms, a big kitchen and some extra storage. She also wanted opportunity. A place where she could express herself creatively, help others and continue volunteering in meaningful ways. “I’m a believer in the concept that when you do things for others you feel better yourself. Plus you get to do stuff you would never do for yourself.” She compared all the area communities and told us that Peter Becker Community was the clear winner in a number of ways. Her desire to live in a place that had all her wants checked off has paid off.
“I feel so blessed. My apartment has a beautiful view and lots of light. It was really important to me to have light. When I retired, I took painting classes at Generations Senior Center, and when I heard that the Flower Show is always in the market for artistic help, I knew I would be a good fit to volunteer,” noted Linda.
Linda Kratz has been coming to the Peter Becker Community’s Annual Flower Show for the last seven years. This year, after her move to the community in July, she took on a very important role in helping to lead the crafters, design a major exhibit and offer many artistic insights.
“She was a true gift to the Flower Show Gang this year,” noted Colleen Algeo, the show’s creative director. “Linda’s enthusiasm is contagious. Not only did she help, she spearheaded a new exhibit. The zinnia covered spruce tree at the entrance to the main exhibit was made possible because she was willing to organize, demonstrate, motivate and implement a colorful vision. She jumped right in without hesitation and had a great time doing it.”
One of the great things about the Peter Becker Flower Show is that it engages as many community members as possible. Over 2000 hours were given by the residents of the community to assemble the main exhibit. Many talents and energies are generously given to the project. According to Colleen, “If you want to be a part of it, we find a role for you and the results are always amazing.”