A life of purpose serving at Pathway Homes
IVC members Lynda and Larry Dendtler bring a lifetime of experience to their volunteer service at Pathway Homes, an IVC partner agency that provides stable, permanent home settings for adults with disabilities, mental illnesses, and co-occurring substance abuse disorders. The Reston, Virginia couple thoroughly enjoy their service assignments, and are especially grateful for IVC’s supportive and enriching spiritual program. They love what they do!
Lynda, a retired nurse, spends much of her IVC volunteer time as an advocate at Stevenson Place, the only Fairfax County, Virginia assisted living facility for the chronically mentally ill. It is managed and staffed by Pathway Homes. “If a resident has a medical appointment, I ensure their paperwork is completed, get updates from the staff and accompany them to the doctor’s visit,” she says. “I have the best volunteer site. It is a one-on-one encounter with people on the margins.”
Whether planting small memorial gardens with them to honor fellow residents who have passed away or accompanying Consumer Advisory Board residents to Richmond to advocate state legislators for mental health housing, she’s delighted about having so much flexibility in her volunteer life. “I can be there as needed four or five days a week for a few hours each day,” she points out. “With widespread family and other travel adventures the flexibility allows me to have ‘a life.’ In retirement you have to live life with purpose, and being involved with IVC gives me purpose in my daily life.”
Larry, a retired commercial real estate executive, assists the management and maintenance staff with the upkeep and inspection of hundreds of residential units operated by Pathway Homes. He helps keep the facilities in great shape and appreciates his personal interaction with the residents. “Pathway Homes relies on a small staff to maintain and manage their numerous properties,” he says. “I help them with purchasing and delivering appliances to sites, performing basic maintenance myself, and inspecting facilities as needed.” And happily, it brings him in touch with the residents. “That’s what great about it for me, because it continues the use of my life skills to work with others in need.”
Lynda first learned about IVC while completing Trinity University of Washington, D.C.’s Education for Parish Service (EPS) program in 1993. EPS showcased opportunities to serve, including IVC. She knew immediately this would be for her after retirement (2012). Larry started with IVC in 2010 after attending an information session hosted by then-director Jim Kelley, and he’s been with Pathway Homes for eight years, with two prior assignments.
The Dendtlers, parishioners at St. John Neumann, have been married 53 years, and both agree that one of the main attractions to joining IVC was — and still is — the supportive and enriching spirituality component. “Our City Group meetings as well as overnight and day retreats, are great helps for IVC members to share our service experiences,” Larry says. “We each have great spiritual reflectors, and mine is a Marianist priest. He has helped me recognize a lot of good things – that all is gift and to be grateful for our lives. It’s helped me to grow and be appreciative of life.” What’s their advice for others thinking about joining IVC?
“Give it a try, you’re gonna love it!”