Volunteerism is No Accident for Shirley Schoenberger...
Despite surviving a devastating accident in her fifties, 66-year-old Shirley Schoenberger lives life to the fullest, with her glass more than half full, and a spring in her step. When asked what event has impacted her life most in recent years, the mother of three and grandmother of seven responds that an actual impact has set the course for the past 15 years, and probably the rest of her life. After being ‘t-boned’ in a horrific car accident, Shirley broke numerous bones and was in recovery for two years. Looking back, she can now joke, “I broke virtually every bone that couldn’t be cast, including eight ribs, my pelvis, my collar bone, and more.
Though much was lost during those two years, Schoenberger explained there were unexpected gains, with her ‘impact’ leading her down a path to make a difference in the lives of others. She commented, “I developed a tremendous amount of empathy for the disabled and the aged.” She added, “During the course of my recovery, I became acutely aware of the challenges of getting around for those with mobility impairments. At times, even getting over the smallest bump was like crossing a mountain. My husband, Peter, was the real hero, and constantly by my side.”
A lifetime volunteer (starting as a teen-aged candy- striper in her native Cleveland), the twenty- year Central Florida resident drew upon her recent experiences, and became active with The Jewish Pavilion (an Orlando area non-profit that brings community, caring, and friendship to the elderly of all faiths in more than 70 assisted living and skilled nursing facilities). A natural conversationalist and people person, many of the residents are waiting for Schoenberger when she arrives, whether she is attending a Shabbat program at Brookdale Island Lake or a Happy Hour and Ice Cream Social at Savannah Court in Maitland.
On a recent senior visit, Shirley admired the needlepoint and artistic works of Ruth Miller, a resident of the Mayflower Retirement Community in Winter Park. Though they had just met, the two women chatted like old friends about the lifetime of family photos sprinkled around the room.
Schoenberger commented, “My goal is to make each senior feel special during our time together. One of my biggest joys is taking my grandsons, Noah and Jared, with me on visitations. I have watched them become increasingly comfortable and compassionate around older adults.”
How will YOU make an impact 2018? To make
a difference in the lives of the senior community like Shirley Schoenberger, call the Jewish Pavilion at 407-678-9363 for volunteer opportunites.
Pamela Ruben is Jewish Pavilion Marketing Director, and author of ‘Tidbits from the Sandwich Generation’ a series of blogs about managing the multi-generations. Check out Pam’s posts at www.jewishpavilion.org (then ‘click’ blog). Congratulation to Shirley Schoenberger, who was honored as a Jewish Pavilion Volunteer of the Year along with volunteer extraordinaire, Dolores Indek, at the Pavilion’s “JP Connections” luncheon. For more information contact 407-678-9363. To volunteer, donate, or to find out more information about the Jewish Pavilion visit www.jewishpavilion.org.