While retirement looks different for everyone, few activities hold greater benefit to both the participant and community than philanthropic work. Numerous studies have tied volunteer work to lessened isolation, stable or improving health, having a strong sense of purpose, and even lower rates of mortality and heart disease. Two local residents of Asbury Methodist Village live out these benefits every day through their philanthropic work in the local area.
Spence Limbocker came to live at Asbury Methodist Village five years ago after retiring from a career spent advocating and fundraising for underprivileged and economically disadvantaged communities. Upon moving to Asbury, he quickly became an active volunteer with Gaithersburg Beloved Community Initiative (GBCI), a local organization dedicated to building intergenerational relationships to further early literacy, support ESL linguistics and refugees, and strengthen facilities management and anti-hunger initiatives in nearby low-income housing communities and the local area.
“I got involved (in GBCI) just after my wife and I moved in. Reverand Hal Garman, the minister who founded it, came and knocked on my door to talk one-on-one about my background,” shared Limbocker.
That initial conversation led to Spence managing a strategic planning process, being elected chair of the board, and growing support to more than 120 volunteers—many of whom also live at Asbury Methodist Village.
The organization, a freestanding 501(c)-3 non-profit co-located on Asbury’s campus, works to build intergenerational relationships through a variety of activities, many of which involve equipping local residents to carry on long-term initiatives in their own neighborhoods. It is one of many opportunities for Asbury Methodist Village residents to connect with others and support the greater local community.
Asbury Methodist Village maintains an activity-filled events calendar, but also partners with numerous resident-led committees, such as Gaithersburg Beloved Community Initiative, the community’s Habitat Action Committee, and others, to promote additional opportunities for residents to connect and give back.
After 32 years in federal government, accredited master gardener Maureen Baltay came to tour Asbury Methodist Village. “The moment I saw this campus, I said I could live here,” Baltay shared. “I saw the woods and fell in love. Since living here, I’ve seen more blue skies, sunsets, and moons than I ever saw in suburbia.”
Shortly after moving in, Baltay became involved in the Habitat Action Committee, which focuses on campus beautification and environmentalism throughout Asbury Methodist Village’s 134 acres and 17-acre wildlife preserve. In addition to beautiful gardens, the committee maintains birdfeeders, pollinator gardens, trees, and wildlife maintenance on the campus. The outcomes are made possible by a group of talented, experienced residents who enjoy honing existing skills and talents into retirement.
“Earlier this week, a member who was previously an arborist and tree expert for a landscaping company pruned down a huge Yoshino Cherry because he has the skills, knowledge, and energy,” said Baltay. “We have skilled photographers whose patience and pictures can capture a teeny little bee going into a flower, or a hawk eating a squirrel on a tree limb. It’s amazing because it educates everyone about the environment.”
The impacts the residents’ experience and commitment have had on the campus and community are profound.
Since becoming involved, Maureen has seen the Habitat Action Committee group support plantings and maintenance following a runoff stream reconstruction, give numerous talks at the community’s renowned Keese School, head invasive plant cleanups, and even lead an important deer culling to reinvigorate undergrowth in the on-campus forest.
In addition to its extensive mentorship programs and food and housing initiatives, Gaithersburg Beloved Community Initiative has become a strong community advocate. One of the organization’s proudest achievements is the work they did advocating for revitalization funding at Southlake Elementary School, a story that earned passionate local attention.
Both organizations’ successes are attributed to the work of the residents and volunteers, as well as a strong partnership with Asbury Methodist Village.
“We are successful because our volunteers get a lot out of these programs. Lots of studies that have found older people who are engaged outside of themselves live healthier and longer, much better lives. Giving back is a critical piece of healthy aging,” said Limbocker. “At the end of each program we survey the volunteers. They tell us time and again that their time spent has changed how they think about low-income people and groups. They’ve gained friendships they didn’t previously have inside and outside of Asbury. Working through GBCI gives meaning to their lives.” For additional information about Asbury Methodist Village, visit AsburyMethodistVillage.org.