Care Ladies: Bringing the community together
by Bettie Marlowe
Jun 04, 2014 | 1296 views | 0 0 comments | 34 34 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ladies showing care for others
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THE RIDGEWOOD neighborhood came together at the home of David and Margaret Schenck recently for a reception honoring their past and present Care Ladies. Each of the ladies received a spring bouquet from the neighborhood in appreciation for their time and efforts toward making Ridgewood such a wonderful place to live. June McDonald, current president of RHA, called the group of ladies “the hands and feet of the neighborhood.” They were also refered to as the “heart and soul” of Ridgewood. These ladies and the neighborhood, she said, “exemplifies Margaret Mead’s quote: ‘Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For indeed, that’s all who ever have.” From left, seated are Janet jackson, Jerri Bull, team leader Carolyn Jones, Pat Love and Faye Turner; and standing, Darlene Odum, McDonald, Annete Stansel, Kathy Morrow, Carolyn Goins and Dola Thompson. Meredith Szustak, not present, is a Care Lady, also. Banner photos, HOWARD PIERCE

“Care Ladies” started out in Ridgewood Subdivision as a hospitality committee who would recognize new residents, according to Margaret Schenck.

Several years ago, somewhere around 1993, when the neighborhood association was being reformed, the board explored varying ways to bring all the homeowners together in a true, close-knit community. Jim Thompson was the first president.

“Around 2002, 2003,” Schenck continued, “we recognized that having an assigned person who lived in a particular section who was responsible for reaching out to 10 homes and getting to know them was a better way to bring the community together.”

In the beginning, Schenck suggested the vision for “care persons” — sending cards and organizing whatever the neighborhood could reasonably do to help a sick neighbor. Originally, she purchased cards and stamps and distributed them

The organization evolved to a group of neighborhood ladies called by the definitive title of “Care Ladies.” Although there was no leader at first, Janet Jackson — a care person in her section — represented the ladies on the board, then Carolyn Goins, who became a resident in 2005.

Currently, the group is coordinated by a team leader, Carolyn Jones, who sits on the RHA Board and reaches out to the other sections as needed. The busy ladies keep an eye on the elderly, offer to arrange to pick up meds or food, do yard work, make breakfast or lunch, send flowers or just visit — sitting and talking.

The subdivision was developed by Jim Sharp, who built and lived in the first house. Thought of at first to be a retirement community, it was quickly realized this was a good place for young couples and a safe place for children.

People can walk, children can play and neighbors carry on the Southern tradition of helping each other, Jones said.

In cases of sickness or deaths, the Care Ladies go into action to be there for their neighbors. Sending out cards — birthday, congratulatory, sympathy and more — delivering welcome gifts to a new neighbor and organizing meals for a sick neighbor are just a few projects led by the these amazing ladies. “We look out for each other,” said Deb Flower, who has lived in Ridgewood since 1993.

To keep everyone updated and on top of things, the ladies share emails and phone numbers to be sure people are looked after. Once after an Alzheimer’s patient strayed from his home, the ladies alerted one another — “See him? ... call his wife.”

When new ones move in, they are welcomed and immediately made to feel a part of the neighborhood with invites to an ice cream social, picnic or other activity. But actually, in Ridgewood, people can be as “private as you want to be, and as social as you want to be,” said Jones. Everyone makes this decision and everyone works together.

Of course, the homeowners association has activities, events and parties (ladies’ luncheons and couple’s dinners) that the residents can choose to participate in. Hopefully, at least two-thirds will take part in the various neighborhood activities — to make the program work. They also have an ice cream social at least once a year, arranged by Goins, and at Christmas, the area is lighted with luminaries — an annual holiday tradition headed by Flower. At a recent picnic, although some of the families were out of town, 40 people joined in the fun, with several new ones attending.

An Easter egg hunt is held each year led by Britany Kelly, who also plans a spring picnic. June McDonald heads up the July 4 Parade in the community, and for fall, Jackie Frye organizes a picnic followed by the children’s Halloween “trick-or-treat” arranged by Allen Clark.

December is the month for several activities, including the cookie exchange (headed by Jones), the children’s Christmas Party arranged by Kelly; Christmas card delivery organized by Goins, and the Luminary display.

And then it’s time for the new year to begin with the Ridgewood Homeowners Association annual meeting led by June McDonald.

Ridgewood is off Freewill Road and Ramblewood. Two streets — a two-mile stretch — including a cul-de-sac, make up the neighborhood. Everyone agrees, it’s a coveted place to live.

Flower said that a local Realtor told her clients, “You want to be in this neighborhood.”