Six decades of volunteering and still going strong


AL ROPKA has volunteered to Augsburg Lutheran Home for 60 years, beginning when he was 17.

Each Wednesday, Ropka, 77, and his wife, Doris, help host the Kaffee Klatch where residents gather for coffee and treats. On Thursdays he calls bingo and, whenever needed, he is available to drive the residents on trips or shopping.

He worked 37 years as a milk man with the Green Spring Dairy, and even though his hours were from 2 a.m. to 4 p.m. most days, he continued to volunteer. "I love to help people," says this vital and active volunteer.

The Augsburg Home, which will celebrate its 100th anniversary next year, was originally a home for orphans as well as the aged. Ropka says he began there "when I was 17 and my father had given me an old Ford. When I went to the Pilgrim Lutheran Church's Sunday night group, I'd drive the children who had come from Augsburg back home. Then we'd have a little social time each Sunday morning when I'd also drive them back from church," he says.

The orphanage is no longer in existence, and the home is now for those who need nursing care or sheltered care.

Carolyn M. Henn, director of volunteers, says there are approximately 80 volunteers who visit and about 20 who are residents and also volunteers. "We have loyal and valued volunteers and could always use more," she says.

Like Ropka, some of the present volunteers have given decades of help. Lucie Foster, Margaret Deitz and Margaret Stranz have volunteered 50 years each and continue to come once each week to help with sewing, crafts and activities.

Lula Heeman is 92 and began volunteering in the 1950s. She still visits residents and helps in the Clothing Shop.

Dorothy Tieman and Elsa Potee have become Augsburg residents but continue to volunteer while living at the home.

Ropka's late first wife, Evelyn, was the volunteer beautician at the home for 20 years.

The home's volunteer needs include escorts to take residents to and from activities and to accompany them to physician's appointments. The Clothing Shop needs help with tagging items and with donations of clothing, jewelry and other things.

Anyone with a craft or skill they could teach or any entertainers or activities directors who would help with the Men's Club, Alzheimer's Activity Hour, the Kaffee Klatch or Happy Hour is welcome. Friendly visitors who will give a lonely resident some quality time in visits for reading or writing or talking are wanted, and the office could use some clerical help.

The Augsburg Lutheran Home is at 6811 Campfield Road. It is a non-profit organization supported by Lutheran churches in Central Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

To volunteer, call Carolyn M. Henn at 486-4573.

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