The Heart of Community at Heart & Hearth

From Steve: A few years ago, our local Area Agency on Aging was offering a $250.00 cash prize to a local adult family care home. All we had to do was to write about how we would use the prize money. We had been wanting some raised planters for the residents to garden in, so that is what we wrote about, and we were pleasantly surprised when we won the money.

The next step was to build the boxes. I am a novice when it comes to carpentry, so I used this project as a work-party project. At the time, there were four families involved in our work party group. We would all work at each others’ homes doing whatever projects were assigned by the owners. Well, Jerry and Jeff are great carpenters, so I put them to work when it came time to work at Heart and Hearth. The finished boxes were beautiful and very functional, and they have given the residents the opportunity to do some gardening. Thank you Jerry and Jeff, and all the work-party volunteers!

Another community-building project involved a local boy scout working on his Eagle project. Gibb, family and friends built the high-rise chicken coop. Local merchants donated most of the materials. Local chicken expert Cathy consulted with us on placement and design. Our residents loved watching the process while they sat under the cherry tree overlooking the coop.

Community involvement at Heart and Hearth is very important. It started with Melissa and I getting married here on the front lawn with eighty or so friends and family witnessing our commitment to each other and all that we do in our lives. Over the years, we have had many volunteers come to interact with our residents. We have had a few high school students do volunteer work as a school project. Melissa, an OT grad student from UNC Chapel Hill, did a summer internship as part of her coursework. Andrew and Abby did 20 hours of volunteering to fulfill a requirement for an initiation into adulthood program. Michael wanted to do something for me as an exchange for loaning him a car. I asked him to come and visit with Zantui. He did so several times and was blessed with her love and acceptance.

There are others who have come to play music. One teenage boy came to play the piano and said that it was grossly out of tune. A day later a piano tuner called and said when could he come out to tune our piano. The boy’s mother had paid to have the piano tuned. What a wonderful and surprising gift!

We have had a fall harvest festival honoring the weather and the harvest it produces. Many local families attended this gathering, and our residents loved this event.

Bringing our residents together with others is a high priority. Their lives have been enriched as well as the lives of the visitors. The value of relationship is so big that it cannot be measured.

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