May 2, 2017
The Hermitage Richmond opened its doors in 1948. With the first VUMH community came the creation of the Samaritan Program. The Hermitage Guild was formed a few years later in 1950 when a call was extended for “key women” of the Virginia Conference to help support the mission of enriching the lives of older adults. Each local Methodist church was asked to name a representative to the Guild in order to keep The Hermitage in the forefront of their congregation. One of the major early undertakings of the Hermitage Guild was to raise funds for the addition of a formal chapel. The impact of the Guild continues to be strong as the organization now moves into its 67th year.
The average length of service for a volunteer is measured in decades, and many of the current volunteers cannot remember exactly when they started. With about 65 volunteers, approximately half are very active volunteers while the others volunteer as their schedule allows. There are multiple volunteers from some churches since being the Guild representative is not required for involvement. Several years ago, the Guild made a move to being referred to as Friends of the Hermitage in order to include the many volunteers that do not have a church affiliation, but have a connection to a family or friend at the Hermitage.
The Guild and Hermitage Richmond team members work wonderfully together. Both groups have the same goal; to better the lives of the residents. Team members are invited to shop in the Country Store as well as giving the Guild an annual “wish list” from their department. From menu covers in the dining room, to chairs in the Social Hall and an ice cream cart for resident enjoyment, Community Guild volunteers have turned the sale of donations from individuals and local churches into items that enhance the lives of residents at the Hermitage.
The Country Store came into existence when the Guild at the Richmond Hermitage needed funds for operation. Annual bazaars and yard sales were held as far back as 1975. The idea begin in one room in the basement and since then has taken over the entire floor where the Country Store is open to residents and the public one day a month.
The Country Store also partners with many community organizations. If they are overstocked with an item or it is not selling, they find another use for it. Excess business clothing are donated to Junior League of Richmond’s Boots to Suits for returning service members. In addition, Samaritan Thrift picks up extra furniture as well as clothing and household goods. Animal groups within the community have benefited from worn towels and linens. Recently, the store has been able to provide clothes and jewelry for historically themed costumes to the Hanover Historical Society.
Jo Wagner, a member of Mount Pisgah UMC in Midlothian, has been president of the Community Guild for several years and cannot imagine her life without the friendships she has made at the Hermitage Richmond. She was invited by her church representative for a bazaar in the late 1990s and has been involved ever since. “The satisfaction of seeing customers getting items they need for a price they can truly afford makes all the work worthwhile,” she reflects.
The impact of the Community Guild on the residents and team members at the Hermitage Richmond creates an important sense of community. Volunteers enjoy putting their efforts toward something truly meaningful.
For more information on the Samaritan Program and our 2017 Offering, click here.