Luther Manor Residents having fun on the bus ride to drop off their donations at Backpack Coalition HQ.
October 17, 2017
Written by Katie Kuhn, United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County
This blog is part of our Retire United series. Read past Q&A’s with Retire United members Bev Jurkowski, Reid Engstrom, Dennis Sell, and Veronica Carter.
For the residents of Luther Manor, Wisconsin’s second-largest Life Plan/Senior Living Community, back-to-school season brings up some special memories, like going off to a one-room school house with just a single pencil.
These days, the school supply list is a bit longer. On average, a family spends $75 per child on school supplies each year.
For many families in our community, this is a cost they cannot meet. That is why the residents and staff of Luther Manor decided to get involved in the Backpack Coalition this year.
“We got everyone involved – residents, staff, even our neighbors at Covenant Lutheran Church – and they donated heaps of school supplies to fill nearly 100 pencil boxes for local students,” said Cherie Swenson, Executive Director of Luther Manor Foundation. “This project built community among our entire continuum.”
Luther Manor serves nearly 550 residents in Milwaukee and Ozaukee counties, with a home base in Wauwatosa. Services run the spectrum from independent and assisted living to healthcare services in a nursing home setting, hospice and Adult Day programs.
“Our vision is ‘Leading the way in abundant living for all who trust us to care,’” says Cherie, “We heard about United Way’s Retire United network and knew it aligned with that vision. We just had to get involved.”
In addition to donating school supplies, residents who could not get out to shop donated money to purchase supplies and wrote notes of encouragement to include in the pencil boxes.
The drive was so successful that there were supplies left over, which Luther Manor plans to donate to local teachers mid-year.
“Luther Manor is a nonprofit organization. Our residents are volunteers here and donors to our foundation – they contribute a lot to the place they call home,” says Cherie. “They also want to maintain their connection to and make a difference in the broader community.”
Studies show that volunteering has many benefits for ageing adults. According to the Volunteering in America 2010 survey, volunteers live longer, report lower disability and higher levels of well-being compared with those who do not volunteer. In addition, volunteering can help lower rates of depression.
Once the school supplies were collected and sorted, residents and staff boarded the Luther Manor bus and made the trip to Waukesha County deliver supplies to the Backpack Coalition HQ. Lori Hayes of United Way thanked volunteers and let them know how important and impactful their work is. “Everyone had a lot of fun riding on that bus. It was like we were back in school ourselves!” recalls Cherie.
Collecting supplies for Backpack Coalition was a very accessible opportunity,” says Cherie. “ Regardless of the ability or mobility of our residents, we were able to find a way for them to get involved and give back.”
“We have always had residents ask how they can give to United Way through Luther Manor because they remember the United Way campaigns when they were working,” says Cherie. “Our residents trust United Way, so getting involved in Retire United is a natural fit.”
Learn more and get involved with Retire United.
Luther Manor’s Backpack Coalition drive was featured on TMJ4. Check it out here.