Mary Jones worked has had to work hard all of her life, sometimes barely scraping by as housekeeper for a hospital and then an aid for an elementary school.
When she retired, Mary had to move in with her son’s family while she waited for an affordable apartment to become available. Fortunately for AHC of Greater Baltimore, Mary found a home at its MonteVerde apartments for senior citizens and the disabled—and got right back to work.
In her four years there, she has become the lead volunteer for distribution of donated food to other tenants who would otherwise not get out, regularly organizes social activities such as movie nights and exercise classes, and makes it a point to drop in on residents who have no family members who visit.
“I believe in giving back; AHC gave me a home with rent I could afford, a place to call home where I could build myself up,” recalls Mary. “I think I’d been here four months when I went into the office, introduced myself and asked if they needed volunteers. I started right away.”
“Don’t just help your family. Help a stranger.”
James Parker, resident services manager, explains how needed her services are: “Our low-income residents often lack funds or convenient access to healthy and nutritious food. Food donations were not all nutritious, and what we got were hoarded by a small number of residents. Many tenants were unaware assistance was even available.”
Then Mary swung into action. She took charge and organized an equitable food distribution-system and expanded the number of organizations that provided donations. Today, nearly all of the residents participate in the program’s bi-weekly supplies of nutritious, fresh and high-quality food. To do this, she has built builds partnerships with many local organizations, such as Baltimore’s Community Engagement Council, local churches and the food bank. The area’s city council representative and her staff regularly interact with Ms. Jones to facilitate her efforts.
“I help other seniors in any way they need, whether it’s food or something else,” says Mary. “I may run an errand, make sure they don’t forget a doctor’s appointment or just keep them company for a couple of hours. You know, there are a lot who don’t have anyone visiting them. They need someone to show they care, to put smile a on their face.”
And she is appreciated. Mary has been asked to serve on the resident association board since 2012 and was named vice president in 2013.
What is Mary’s guiding philosophy and advice to everyone else? “Don’t just help your family. Help a stranger.”
Helping seniors eat right
Meet Mary Jones, one of seven winners of our 2015 Dorothy Richardson Resident Leadership Award, who is helping seniors in her community in Maryland eat healthier and thrive.