To the casual observer, Eleanore Myers appears to be sitting in a library at Presbyterian Manor quietly folding aprons. What the observer can?t see is Myers also is praying for the people who wear the aprons? he dietary staff at the Newton retirement community. She prays for their good health, challenges some have at home, understanding their jobs and good teamwork. The meals and meal service are excellent, Myers said.
?I just feel that those prayers have an effect on the staff people,? Myers said, sitting in her clean, homey apartment at the Manor. ?I feel very close to the dietary department, and I want them to have clean aprons. They?re so appreciative.?
On Monday and Thurs?day mornings, the 82-year-old washes, dries and folds the black aprons. ?I wash 60 to 70 aprons each time.?
When Myers started volunteering with the laundry at the Manor, she did so with her husband, Clarence. They found a note on a bulletin board at the Manor stating the Manor needed help with apron laundering. That was in May 2013, when they moved into assisted living.
?There?s so much that we can do here,? Myers said. ?I just feel sorry for people who have not found their niche, and I found it in volunteering for the Manor here.?
When the couple moved into the main part of Manor, they were in assisted living, and after Clarence passed away in September 2013, Myers found a place in independent living. At the time Clarence volunteered, he was on oxygen and riding a scooter.
In addition to staying at the Manor after Clarence died, Myers continued to volunteer, and she spread her volunteer wings into other areas. For her efforts, Myers was chosen by LeadingAge Kansas as the 2014 Quality First Award of Excellence Volunteer of the Year.
?I have heard people that are busy are happy, and I am happy helping others,? Myers said about why she volunteers. ?People who are busy and thinking of others are the happy people.?
Myers seems to have a kind, gentle, giving spirit about her, and that shows up in various areas of her life, including her volunteer work. In 1999, when the Myers couple lived across the street from the main Manor building in a cottage, Myers? cousin and his wife resided in independent living. When he died, Myers was asked to start a Bible study in the widow?s apartment because she was timid, and there was fear she?d withdraw.
Myers talked to the widow and asked her if she?d like to be the hostess. She agreed, and they started with six women in 2000.
?And now there are 64 ladies on the roster,? Myers said. The attendance averages from 35-40 women, and they meet in the chapel.
?So, that is kinda how it all started,? Myers said.
Myers is the Bible study?s teacher, and as of January, the group was studying Psalms, which they had been since January 2012. They were on Psalm 129, having learned about one Psalm per week. The group meets for an hour at 9:30 a.m. Tues?days.
?All the Psalms are very special to me,? said Myers, who teaches the group in the Manor?s chapel a few steps from her apartment.
Her Bible study duties aren?t just limited to Tuesdays, however.
?I spend a lot of time on the phone with the ladies in the Bible study,? Myers said.
More than half the women in the study are widows, and Myers spends a lot of time on the phone with them praying for their needs. Half of the women in the study don?t reside at the Manor.
?For people outside of here, it?s like they have a ministry, and the people who live here, it?s like getting company,? Myers said.
In addition to those duties, Myers chairs the Spiritual Life Committee at the Manor, which arranges the Sunday morning and evening chapel services two months ahead.
On Fridays, Myers plays the piano for the 10:15-11 a.m. service in the Alzheimer?s unit and sometimes during the 11 a.m. service, which is for everyone.
In 2014, Myers was one of many who contributed to the total volunteer hours, a total of 2,644, just for chapel services by people from area churches, as well as the Manor. On Sunday evenings, people sing hymns at the Manor for 30 minutes, and volunteers are needed to lead and play the piano and organ, as well as bring residents in wheelchairs or who need someone to walk with them to Chapel.
Myers spends her Saturdays confirming volunteers will be at the Sunday morning and evening services.
Myers also helps the Manor in another way ? by getting volunteers to read obituaries during the monthly memorial service.
?(The memorial service is) like a closure, not only for the family, but for the residents here,? Myers said. ?It?s like a big family ? you really get attached to the people here.?
Myers? giving attitude also shows in her chosen career, as she?s a retired nurse. After attending Bible college and nursing school, she spent 10 years in Honduras. After that, she was employed at Wesley Hospital and also worked with the health department in the Spanish section of Wichita. Myers also worked for the Red Cross Blood Mobile, but then her resume took a one-year break because of back surgery. Before working at Wesley, she was an industrial nurse at Cessna, which is where she met Clarence.
In 1982, the couple moved to South Carolina, where Myers was a nurse at a paper mill. While there, she and Clarence served with The Gideons International, of which she still is a member.
?That was wonderful for both of us because we traveled and did jail ministries and Scripture distribution,? said Myers, who was born and raised in Whitewater.
In 1999, Myers said her husband wanted to move to Newton, which was about a halfway point between her sister in Moundridge and a brother in Whitewater. In addition, Myers? mother had been living at Asbury Park in Newton, which was Friendly Acres at the time.
?So Newton was kind of special to us,? Myers said.
She and Clarence were married for 40 years.
?It was an adventure,? she said, adding when she married Clarence, he had three children, who now are scattered across the country.
Myers? purpose in life is simple.
?I just want to live for the Lord,? she said. ?I ask the Lord to guide me and to do his will. I read the Bible every day. That gives me courage when I?m discouraged. My motto is the Lord will provide. That?s true with my life. It?s hard to prepare to be a widow. I have learned that God always provides. It?s just an amazing thing.?
by Wendy Nugent