“We are never too old to give back,” says Laura Berick. Thinking about how older adults are often on the receiving end of others’ efforts, she decided to turn the tables at Judson Manor. “What better way than to initiate a food drive?” she thought.
Many Judson residents are dedicated, lifetime volunteers for a number of Northeast Ohio’s cultural and philanthropic organizations. Launching a food drive at Judson Manor to assist the Cleveland Food Bank seemed like a practical, accessible way to give back during the holiday season.
Berick loves how easy it is for Judson residents to make a positive impact, and she suggested throwing in some intergenerational flair and involving the two student residents from the Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA) who live at the Manor.
The CIA student residents, more than happy to assist their older neighbors, helped organize an afternoon of decorating collection boxes, which were placed in the Manor’s hallways. Rachelle Adognravi, a senior illustration major at CIA, helped gather materials and worked with residents using acrylic paints, markers and pencils to draw on boxes.
“We helped draw abstract designs on the boxes that residents would fill in, and some contributed their own ideas,” Adognravi says.
The two hours spent creating inspiring food collection boxes alongside residents was valuable to the students. “We really got an opportunity to talk to each other and share our own holiday traditions,” Adognravi says.
Some box themes included a cornucopia, a football scene, abstract leaves and other patterns. The beautiful boxes were placed on each floor to serve as a creative reminder to give back this holiday season. And, indeed, residents did just that.
“Everyone put something – or more than something – in a box,” Berick says. “It was such a nice, warm fuzzy feeling to see all of the boxes around, and watch them fill up with donated food.”
According to the Cleveland Food Bank, every dollar donated can provide four meals. Judson Manor residents collected a total of 270 pounds of food during the collection period. On December 15, Berick, Adognravi and others took the boxes to Cleveland Food Bank.
“We were able to provide 248 dinners,” Berick says, so proud of the effort Judson Manor residents put forth and the heart-warming results. She’s already looking forward to next year’s food drive.
“It was a time for us to gather as a family—and that’s really how I think of Judson Manor, as a great big family,” Berick says. “Together, we were able to do something for others, and that makes everyone feel good.”