Posted by Guide to Retirement Living SourceBook on 03/31/2015

Helping Hands

Helping Hands

Living with purpose takes work—but it also bears enormous rewards. Whether the purpose is welcoming home returning soldiers or providing a much-needed hot meal, helping others often has an unexpected benefit: personal fulfillment.

At Brightview retirement communities, living with purpose is a way of life. With twelve communities throughout Maryland, Brightview offers care options ranging from independent living to assisted living and dementia care. All of the Brightview communities empower residents to live purposeful lives, full of choices and flexibility, and focus on possibilities rather than limitations. Each Brightview community demonstrates Brightview’s commitment to Possibilities, Independence and Choice in different and meaningful ways.


For instance, at Brightview Catonsville, an assisted living community located in a historic residential neighborhood, one of the community’s most popular activities is its Helping Hands Club, which performs various charity work in the surrounding area. Every month, the residents pick a local organization or cause to sponsor. And every month, they are rewarded for their good deeds with an enduring sense of happiness.


One of the most active members of the Helping Hands Club is new resident John Patrick Kirby, Jr. John has called Catonsville home for all of his 86 years, and he has always been involved in local philanthropic activities.


John enjoyed a long career with the Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks. He worked for the city for 40 years. “I held a lot of different positions, but they usually involved providing activities and sports to the community—especially sports,” John recalled.


“The recreation centers I worked in served everyone in the community from little kids all the way up to senior citizens.”


After retiring in 1989, John was able to focus his time on volunteering. He began participating in more church activities at St. Mark Catholic Church, where he is still an active member. He is also a member of the Irishman’s Chorale, a group of men who sing old songs from Ireland. Finally, he volunteers with handicapped children through a program at St. Mark’s known as the Merge Program.


John moved to Brightview less than a year ago after his lifelong home burnt down. “I thought this would be a great place for me to stay until my house is repaired—or until I decide to live here permanently,” he said.


Since the move, John’s already active life has become even more vibrant. In fact, he’s one of the community’s most active residents. “I certainly enjoy all the activities they have here every day. There are six programs a day, seven days a week. That’s in addition to special activities. They really just offer a world of things to do,” he noted.


John’s level of engagement has not gone unnoticed. Barbara Sigler, the Vibrant Living Director at Brightview Catonsville, noted that John has taken it upon himself to encourage community participation. “He makes copies of the daily activity sheet and hands them out to people in the dining room during breakfast,” she explained. “He really promotes people being more involved in the community. It is wonderful to have a resident come in and encourage the other residents, and it really has increased our participation, especially among the men.”


Not surprisingly, John has made some wonderful new friends. “I’ve really connected with the other men at my table,” he said. “We talk about every subject under the sun, and we really enjoy each other’s company.”


In addition to his ongoing community service through his church and his daily classes, John is also involved with Brightview’s Helping Hands Club. “It’s great to visit people who need help,” John says of the Club. “We go to hospices and hospitals and to the airport to greet service men. We let these people know that we love them, that they are not forgotten.”


Club members meet at the beginning of the year to determine what organizations and groups they would like to serve. Activities have ranged from providing lunches in homeless shelters to greeting troops at the airport. In January, the Helping Hands members prepared bags of soup ingredients for the needy, so they can cook a nutritious meal in their own homes.  In February, they celebrated Valentine’s Day with a dinner fundraiser supporting the American Heart Association.


The Helping Hands Club is one of the ways that Brightview encourages its residents to live with purpose, and to enjoy the happiness that comes with purposeful living. “Of course we provide lots of fun activities, but we don’t want to just keep people busy,” explains Sigler. “We want to do things that are meaningful and that empower the residents to give back to their community and feel connected.”


With residents like John and other committed community servants, it is no surprise that Brightview has such a large impact on the local community. Of course, the impact is also strongly felt within the walls of the community—where residents know they are putting their hands to good use every day, helping the neighborhood they love.

By Christy Brudin

Contact This Member