Greenspring Village, the continuing care retirement community in Springfield, VA, has a lot of services to offer its residents. It also relies on its residents to make it a fun place alive with interesting, stimulating programs and people who care about each other. In addition it has a goal of making a difference in the neighborhood.
Mrs. Brill, in conjunction with the staff member in charge of volunteer programming, took it upon herself to run a program that provides tutoring to several elementary schools. Twice a week, a shuttle bus leaves Greenspring with our residents on board, heading for Hunt Valley Elementary or Saratoga Elementary schools. In addition, individual residents drive themselves to Garfield Elementary School to tutor kids in reading. This program has been very successful since its inception in 2002. Since then, participants in this program have given over 4250 volunteer hours to mentor and encourage young children in Springfield elementary schools. Recently, the principal of Saratoga Elementary School told me that Greenspring residents touch the lives of 107 kids every week. While they have to deal with attendance issues at the school – there is no attendance problem on Thursdays when Greenspring “grand friends” are there!
When the staff person in charge of volunteer programs left Greenspring early in 2004, Mrs. Brill took it upon herself to ensure that the program would continue. Without her leadership it may have fallen apart. In setting up a tutoring project like Greenspring, one issue to resolve is the transportation. Many of the seniors don’t drive themselves anymore, and using a shuttle service creates a financial need. The service of Greenspring tutors are so appreciated and recognized by the community that the PTAs of both schools using the shuttle service have raised the necessary funds.
Another aspect why this program has been so successful is the fact that the senior volunteers derive as much joy and meaning out of tutoring, as do the kids. This is truly a win-win program inspiring seniors to participate in an important activity within the larger community while the youngest members of this community have a unique opportunity to learn from the wisdom and experience of their elders. Another indicator of the program’s success is that for the coming school year, another three elementary schools have requested Greenspring residents as tutors for their children in need.
Mrs. Brill is active, caring, shows a real commitment from her heart and yet has a balanced view and thus truly embodies all you would want in a volunteer. Greenspring is fortunate to have a person like Edna Brill on board, and her engagement reflects beyond the retirement campus to the elementary schools and right into the kids’ hearts. The children light up when Edna and her tutors show up at the school.