June 5, 2017
Eastern Shore of Virginia was pleased to welcome the Hermitage to the area when it was first built in the 1960s, but the town of Onancock was even happier. Since Hermitage Eastern Shore is a United Methodist Church endeavor, Onancock’s Market Street United Methodist Church, were eager to help it succeed. Anne Nock, member and Hermitage Eastern Shore volunteer says the church felt the new community was an extension of their church since they are located so close to one another. From the beginning, Market Street has been a loyal and valuable connection for the community.
Betty Turner, a member of Market Street Church, was the first nursing supervisor at the Hermitage Eastern Shore when the doors opened to residents in 1966. Turner’s role as nursing supervisor also included the overall well-being of all residents. Some of the first residents had no family or friends close by, so she felt it would be nice for them to be able to celebrate their birthday in their new home. This led her to plan a birthday lunch every month for those celebrating that month. A resident-centered focus has always been a driving force for team members.
As more residents moved to Hermitage Eastern Shore, Turner’s nursing responsibilities increased to the point that she could not continue to plan the monthly birthday celebration. However, a Market Street United Methodist Women’s circle, the Carrie Radcliffe Circle, offered to take over. “A church circle exists for the purpose of helping with mission projects around the world, as well as locally,” explains Nock. “We felt that this local mission was a golden mission opportunity for us that was right here at our doorstep.” This began their long-standing partnership.
A volunteer from the Carrie Radcliffe Circle receives a list of names and birth dates each month from an Hermitage Eastern Shore team member and sends an invitation for a lunch celebration on the second Tuesday of the month. A second volunteer wraps presents, decorates and sets the tables. Gifts are provided by the circle members and range from tote bags to picture frames and sun catchers to window decorations. In addition, Anne Nock writes a one page birthday limerick each year that she customizes for each person. A third volunteer makes the birthday cake and at least two volunteers attend the birthday lunch to celebrate alongside the residents. As part of the partnership, Hermitage Eastern Shore provides the food for everyone and a balloon for each birthday resident.
Special guests such as the executive director, chaplain and activities director also attend the celebration. The resident celebrating a birthday is also invited to include guests to join them at the lunch. In addition to honoring birthdays, this informal setting gives team members, residents and their friends and family, and community members an opportunity to connect with one another.
“I feel that this long-lived service project, our continuing birthday party endeavor, has been a definite factor in helping our church overall through the years to maintain many different voluntary projects, activities and functions at the Hermitage,” expresses Nock.