By Danielle Ozbat
When Sandra Mayes retired from her job, she and her cousin went on the hunt for something to do. Since her cousin lives in Midlothian and she lives in Prince George, she said the pair wanted to find a place where they could meet in the middle in order to spend the day together.
“When I retired, I was looking for something to do, my cousin retired at the same time … so we were looking for something that we could spend a day together and meet in the middle,” Mayes said. “That’s how we found the Shepherd’s Center. I found it online, and we’ve been coming ever since, and we love it. We take all the classes we can take, and it’s really good, it’s really nice, we’ve met tons of people.”
The Shepherd’s Center of Chesterfield is a nonprofit, interfaith organization that offers free, accompanied transportation, in-home handyman services (known as HandyHands), and low cost classes to senior adults (their Adventures in Learning program). Started in 2001, the organization’s mission is to enrich the lives of adults over the age of 50 through volunteer opportunities and lifelong learning in order to help them remain active and independent.
Susan McCammon is the executive director of the Shepherd’s Center and has been in that position since 2011, after initially starting off as their marketing and community outreach person. She said it is fulfilling to work with the seniors, whom she called “the greatest generation.”
“It [is] so fulfilling to be working with the greatest generation … [and] as you talk to them, you find out they do more, and more than just one thing,” McCammon said. “It’s just an amazing group of people and … serving the seniors is amazing, it’s just an amazing opportunity to have this job but to actually enjoy what you’re doing with the mission is a blessing.”
At the heart of The Shepherd’s Center are its volunteers who provide rides (via their transportation service) to and from medical appointments, grocery stores and pharmacies; teach the Adventures in Learning classes; and set up and cook lunches in the hospitality program. The Board of Directors and different committees also consist of volunteers.
Howard Twilley has been a volunteer for the Shepherd’s Center since 2013 and became interested in the organization as a result his wife, Evelyn (who teaches a potpourri class that includes literature, reading, and crossword puzzles) and his mother already being involved. Twilley, a volunteer driver who serves on the Hospitality committee, said he wanted to commit himself to giving back to the community.
“I worked a number of years at Philip Morris, and while working you’re not able to do necessarily all that you want to be able to do because you are working full time, so I wanted to commit myself to be able to give back to the community once I retired,” Twilley said. “I know that I’m doing something that’s greatly needed to the community.
“I worked a number of years at Philip Morris, and while working you’re not able to do necessarily all that you want to be able to do because you are working full time, so I wanted to commit myself to be able to give back to the community once I retired,” Twilley said. “I know that I’m doing something that’s greatly needed and greatly appreciated, and I get a lot of gratification from [volunteering at the Shepherd’s Center].”
The Shepherd’s Center hosts events like tea parties, luncheons, ice cream socials, and Senior Idol, a competition that showcases the talents of local seniors. Their Adventures in Learning program, which is housed at Chester Baptist Church, has sessions every 24 weeks, and there are many classes to choose from, such as Hula Hooping, Short Stories, Seated Tai Chi, Yoga, Knitting, Line Dancing, and Politics.
Cheryl Fox has made use of the Adventures in Learning program as both teacher and student. Fox currently teaches a Short Stories class, which boasts an attendance of 25 people, and is taking a western politics class and a short story writing class; in the past, she has taught different levels of drawing classes. Fox, who has been an instructor for 25 years, found out about the Shepherd’s Center from an acquaintance and said she has met many interesting people while there.
“People don’t think they’re interesting, they don’t think they have a story to help other people,” said Fox. “But when you start talking to them … you make a connection.”
Barbara Pohlig, a founding member of the Shepherd’s Center, echoed Fox’s statements and said she has also met many people. Pohlig is also on the Hospitality committee and takes a Watercolors Class, and she said the joy of The Shepherd’s Center is that she keeps on learning and remains productive.