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Published: November 15, 2023

 For 30 years Kendal at Oberlin residents and staff have been creating community in ways big and small. As the community celebrate its 30th birthday this fall, we’re exploring how the 110-acre campus, home to hundreds of residents over the years, creates unity at its community. Today, we take a look at how the residents and staff care for others and share their resources.

Let’s start with a nurturing tradition.

Soup’s always hot in October

Kendal’s first residents arrived on Oct. 6, 1993 and the occasion was celebrated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Today, and for many years, Kendal celebrates its anniversary with a Souper Supper. The simple meal serves two purposes: Kendal residents focus on how fortunate they are by eating a simple meal rather than a fancy dinner, and residents and staff fill the soup pots in the dining room with money saved, along with other donations, for the Oberlin Community Services food pantry.

“To me, that is so representative of the caring, giving attitude of Kendal folks! That tradition brings in $6,000-$8000 in contributions each year which OCS uses to feed the hungry,” says Margie Flood, executive director.

The food pantry donations are just one of many ways Kendal supports Oberlin Community Services, a community-based organization that serves low-income and vulnerable community members by providing food, financial assistance, referrals, educational outreach, and other basic needs.

  • Kendal residents volunteer as Meals on Wheels drivers and food deliverers, help in the food pantry and serve on the board;
  • The Kendal bus is filled to the brim each December when it drops off gifts for children, and the bounty is not only generous but artistically wrapped;
  • Kendal woodworkers made some beautiful signs for OCS to use in The People’s Garden as educational outreach, and artists have donated their work to be sold to help raise funds for OCS.
  • For a few years, the Kendal kitchen shared its over-produced food with OCS as part of its Food Rescue program.
  • Some Kendal gardeners grow extra produce and donated it to OCS.

And recently a Kendal crew (staff and residents) outfitted the whole entrance to OCS’s new building by ripping out old landscaping and replacing with donated native, edible plantings (pictured below are images from the landscaping day).

“We at Kendal found much joy in doing this together. What a wonderful collaboration with an important service agency in our community,” says Anne Helm with the Kendal Arboretum Committee.

volunteer group outside OCS volunteer group outside OCS volunteer group outside OCS

Speaking of volunteering

Volunteerism is part of Kendal’s DNA, and every year the life plan community takes the pulse of its unpaid service to see how the community is doing.

For the most recent year, 2022, the grand total of all hours reported by residents and staff was 55,726, a significant increase when compared with the hours reported in 2021, and even higher than pre-pandemic 2019. These hours include both volunteer service within Kendal, a nonprofit continuing care retirement community, and in the larger commuity.

More than 200 residents and staff reported their volunteer hours. They volunteered 17,319 hours outside of Kendal in seven categories: Organizations (7,994 hours), Church (4,178 hours), Oberlin College/LCCC (1,523 hours), Government (870 hours), Medical (709 hours), Schools (150 hours), and Miscellaneous (1,895 hours).

“Kendal residents and staff very much exemplify the Kendal values of generosity and responsibility (in the larger community),” said Ann Findlan, co-chair of the Volunteer Clearinghouse Committee.

Two causes front and center

Every fall people all over the country gather for the “Walk to End Alzheimer’s” and Kendal community is part of that effort. They put together a team for the Lorain County walk (Kendal group at the walk pictured below), which used to be held in Oberlin and is now at Lorain County Community College, and raise money with a creative basket raffle (basket organizers pictured below).

                                             group at the Alzheimers Walk   group of individuals who made baskets for raffle

This year, they also had a physician come to campus to speak about the communication challenges those with dementia face, and opened the talk to the public.
This fall, Kendal boosted its annual United Way of Greater Lorain County drive with a bake sale and information table about all the services United Way offers in the community.

“Kendal is very generous and exemplifies the Quaker value of simplicity, to live simply so others may simply live,” says Kim Preston, director of Community Outreach.

Plan Well to Live Well

Your first step to joining the Kendal at Oberlin senior living community is to become a member of our Priority List. Learn about the many benefits of joining inside our free Priority List Guide.

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Author Molly Kavanaugh 2020In the past, Molly Kavanaugh frequently wrote about Kendal at Oberlin for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, where she was a reporter for 16 years. Now we are happy to have her writing for the Kendal at Oberlin Community.

About Kendal at Oberlin: Kendal is a nonprofit life plan community serving older adults in northeast Ohio. Located about one mile from Oberlin College and Conservatory, and about a 40 minute drive from downtown Cleveland, Kendal offers a vibrant resident-led lifestyle with access to music, art and lifelong learning.