Giving Their Time--From Tax Help to Building Houses, Woodland Pond Residents Make a Difference

Clubs and Organizations

May 30, 2013

If you need something done or need someone to volunteer for a project, ask the residents at Woodland Pond. An overwhelming number of residents give back to the community, and they are spending their retirement years truly making a difference.  From an 85-year-old who builds houses with Habitat for Humanity to an 80-year-old former credit risk expert who offers free tax advice to seniors relying on AARP, the volunteers’ selfless acts impact the community, and they make a lasting impression on everyone at Woodland Pond.  The volunteers’ work is so impressive that Woodland Pond honored them during National Volunteer Month. 

“We are inspired by the work that our residents do in the community and want to honor them in every way possible,” said Bob Seidman, executive director at Woodland Pond.  “Altogether, about 50 percent of our residents are actively involved in volunteer work.  We want the public to understand that it is important to continue contributing to the community as you age.” 


Jay Bishop, a resident at Woodland Pond is involved in helping with tax preparation for low income seniors through AARP. With a background of forty-three years in credit risk management, he enjoys continuing to help others financially and keeping his mind active. He also helps in the resident-run, in-house convenience store called The Market Basket. He stocks and prices the items and makes sure they all have UPC codes that can be scanned by the clerk.

“I want to use my talent to help other people including fellow residents who visit The Market Basket, or local seniors who rely on AARP for tax help,” said Bishop. “Many seniors find the idea of filling out tax forms daunting, and because of this they tend to get taken advantage of by big-name companies. I want to help them so they are able to keep as much of their money as possible.”

Carl and Vivian Yettru, have volunteered with Habitat for Humanity for fourteen years. In that time, they have built around 60 houses, whether renovated or brand new. Most of the time, 85-year-old Carl does the framing, sheetrock, trim work, and makes doors, something most people his age would find nearly impossible.

“Working for Habitat is great fun, but at times can be physically challenging,” said Yettru. “I’ve learned a lot of carpentry skills and it’s fun to work with the other volunteers. I also enjoy seeing the look on the homeowners’ faces. That is what makes it all worth it.”

His 82-year-old wife Vivian works alongside him helping with more detailed work like painting, caulking, and plugging nail holes. Both were teachers before they retired and really enjoy assisting others. In the past, they took their motor home and traveled places with Habitat for Humanity to build homes throughout Michigan and even down in parts of Florida. Mr. Yettru described the work as very emotional.

“Some of us do not realize what a blessing it is just to have a roof over our heads,” said Yettru. “One of the things I like about Habitat for Humanity is that they don’t just give people houses. The recipient is expected to pay a down payment and also build it alongside the volunteers putting in sweat equity.”

To honor Jay Bishop and the Yettru’s, Woodland Pond put up a bulletin board that recognizes all of the volunteers at the retirement community with their pictures and the organizations where they currently volunteer.  All of the volunteers were also honored in the Woodland Pond newsletter, taking two issues to cover all of the helpful people at the community.


“There’s an aspect of volunteering that surprised me,” said Yettru. “I think volunteering has helped me more than it has helped the recipients.”