In July 2010, Rochester-native Marie Shultis finished her yearlong stint as the president of the Residents’ Club at The Birches at Esopus. Shultis worked as a team with vice president Ruth Rosu, and together the pair was able to get the first year of the building’s residents’ club off to a rousing start.
“Our goal was really to bring the residents together and to establish different programs and events that they could participate in,” says Shultis, “and we did do that over the course of a year.”
Having been founded in the summer of 2009, the club can now count over half of The Birches at Esopus’s population as members, having reached their fiftieth member in June 2010. Throughout the year, the club has hosted events to allow the community’s residents to get to know each other and participate in fun activities. The first such event was participating in the Town of Esopus Fall Festival.
“The whole town could have yard sales,” says Marie, “and so everyone here was interested in having a yard sale. Well, since it’s a secure building, it poses a problem for us to have a yard sale inside here. So in speaking with Steve and Judy Aaron about this one day when they were visiting, I voiced our desire to have a yard sale. And so, Judy says, ‘how about a tent?’ And so they very graciously put a huge tent out here in the parking area, and tables for those residents who wanted to sell their personal items.”
Marie says that the sale was a “huge success,” allowing residents to sell their items, as well as the sale of baked goods and items that were donated to the club for sale. In fact, Marie says that the baked goods table was an even hotter seller than the tables without food. “It was a winner—it was really fantastic,” she says.
The money raised went back into the club’s coffers, which, in addition to the $2 monthly dues paid by members, was able to fund other events and get-togethers for the club’s members. From pot lucks and Wintertime Comfort Food dinners, as well as their subsequent Leftover Lunches, Marie says that the club has tried to host at least one event a month.
One particularly memorable event for Marie concerned the local volunteer firefighters who make routine visits to The Birches at Esopus.
“The firemen are always visiting us, because, unfortunately, there are escapades like burnt toast and things like that occurring,” says Marie. “ Ruth and I felt it would be nice if we did something for the firemen, so we had a dinner especially for the firemen, and they could bring their wives – many of whom are members of the auxiliary – if they wished.
“They enjoyed themselves, and they said, ‘you know, no one ever does anything like this for us,’ and it made us feel good to know that we had done that for them. So we have a link there, as well as a link with the town with the yard sale.” Marie says she hopes that the club will keep hosting the dinner annually, though the decision won’t be up to her when she and Ruth pass the batons to the new officers.
Besides simply hosting these monthly events, the Residents’ Club is responsible for the twice-weekly Bingo games in the building’s community room, as well as the holiday-themed decorations that fill the community room each month, a result that came about with a combination of “Ruth’s creativity and the dollar store,” says Marie with a laugh.
And Marie is adamant about the fact that the club’s initiatives and strides weren’t her achievements alone—rather, she and Ruth Rosu accomplished it all together.
“I really want to emphasize that we were a team,” she says of her partnership with Ruth. “And it’s a large undertaking—one person can’t do it alone, can’t come up with all the ideas and whatnot. You need another individual who has ideas. I’m very lucky, because Ruth is very artistic, and she’s very creative. It was a team effort. I never knew Ruth before I moved here. We just kind of clicked. That happens sometimes.”
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Brian Rubin for Birchez Associates, firstname.lastname@example.org