If you were to stop in at The Episcopal Church Home or Brentland Woods during any week, there’s a good chance you’d see Fran Kreider-singing, reading aloud, making crafts or knitting with residents. In fact, she’s the 2016 ESLC Generations Award recipient for her dedicated volunteerism.
“I realize it sounds cliché,” Fran says with a slight southern drawl, “but I started volunteering here because I wanted to give back. My parents lived at Brentland Woods and then my mom was at the Church Home before she passed away,” says Fran. “I’m so grateful for the care they received, and I got to know a lot of the residents and staff when I visited. Now we’re like family.” Fran mentions that she’s simply following in the footsteps of her parents, who always gave of themselves to others.
She sees herself and the other volunteers as an extension of the staff at each location—extra pairs of helping hands. “I’m in awe of the staff. Such kindness and respect and humor—they treat everyone that way.”
Fran volunteers at least three days a week with ESLC, including weekly hymn sings at the Church Home and as a member of the Threshold Choir. She also enjoys singing to residents suffering from memory loss at the Church Home and at Seabury Woods. “I love it when I can help make a connection with the folks and their families,” says Fran. “All of a sudden, people start singing, or speak for the first time in months. It thrills my heart to be able to do that.”
Come springtime, you may even see Fran dressed up in her bright hibiscus dress and lei, singing and strumming a ukulele for a Hawaiian Luau at the Church Home. She also plays piano, guitar and the recorder. “A banjo is on my wish list,” she says.
At Brentland Woods, Fran leads groups of residents who also like giving back. They make beaded bracelets for Erna’s Hope, a nonprofit organization that offers education and support to women with ovarian and gynecological cancers. Another group knits blankets for the animals at Lollypop Farm. She loves to talk and laugh with the residents and is inspired by listening to their stories. “Women who are part of the Greatest Generation are such an inspiration. They were very selfless, and have done amazing things.”
Think she sounds busy enough? Fran loves folk music and is a member of the Mount Hope World Singers. She also coordinates the Sunday School at her church in Henrietta, and often fills in to teach the kids. With a background in education, Fran homeschooled all five of her sons who are now grown, and was part of a home-school support group and the boys’ church group. “Being active and involved is just part of who I am,” she says.
But Fran also knows that balance is important. At the end of each day, she retreats to 60 acres and her husband at their farmhouse in Lima, and settles herself into what she calls her “happy chair”—a rocking chair that belonged to her parents. It’s outfitted with a comfy cushion and canvas bags to hold her needlecraft projects. She knits or quilts while listening to audio books, sipping tea from a mug that sits on her ESLC coaster.