As a not-for-profit organization, Lifespace Communities is committed to making a difference in the lives of others through volunteerism, community service and local outreach. Unsurprisingly, this dedication to philanthropy is also common among Lifespace residents, who independently spend countless hours championing causes they are passionate about. Resident Charlotte Miller of Grand Lodge at the Preserve in Lincoln, Nebraska, is a shining example of this extraordinary sense of giving.
A former school teacher by profession, Charlotte’s passion for children and education knows no bounds. Once a week, she pays a visit to Lincoln’s Elliott Elementary School to conduct reading exercises with an enthusiastic group of kindergartners. The weekly sessions are a source of joy for the children, who love asking questions and sharing stories with their special guest — who many refer to as “Grandma.” And of course, no visit is complete without some hugs.
Despite plenty of community service experience throughout her life, Charlotte says the time she spends with students at Elliott Elementary holds a special place in her heart.
“I have volunteered for as long as I can remember,” she said. “Girl Scouts, church, you name it. This experience, however, is among the most rewarding, because children truly are my first love.”
Such enthusiasm is no surprise to Christine Nelson, director of life enrichment at Grand Lodge. Christine explains that seniors who volunteer experience a boost in self-esteem and overall well-being.
“I have seen it firsthand with residents who are involved in community service efforts,” said Christine. “Giving back gives you a sense of purpose and helps you build connections with others. It is why Grand Lodge and Lifespace champion it so heavily.”
Christine’s assessment rings true beyond the walls of her community. According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency tasked with advocating for service initiatives, those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability and lower rates of depression.
As for Charlotte, she sees many similarities between the kindergartners she tutors and the relationships she has built at Grand Lodge.
“We are a big family at Grand Lodge, much like a group of students,” Charlotte said. “We learn together, play together, and have formed friendships that cannot be broken.”