On a Monday in early August, during one of the busiest weeks for teachers, 25 Holland Elementary school teachers and administrators took time to have lunch nearby. The occasion was unique – The Towne House’s first annual Teachers Luncheon.
Retired residents and teachers dined around decorated tables. Lively conversation ensued as resident donors met the teachers who would each receive a $300 gift card to United Arts and Education to purchase learning materials for their classrooms.
“A lot of organizations help students with school supplies,” says Rev. Douglas Vogel, founder of the Teacher’s Scholarship Fund and chaplain at The Towne House Retirement Community. “We want to impact students by empowering teachers.”
The Towne House is a Continuing Care Retirement Community with everything from independent living villas to 24-hour nursing care for its close to 300 residents.
“Our residents want to stay active in Fort Wayne and be a force for good,” says Sarah Horacek, Director of Marketing. Residents give to and volunteer with many different groups, including Associated Churches, The Rescue Mission, The Salvation Army, A Hope Center and Homebound Meals, Inc.
Focusing on Holland Elementary school came naturally. In 2011, Phyllis Stumpf, a current resident and former teacher, got The Towne House involved in an afterschool mentoring program. “Holland Elementary students come once a week for an hour,” says Stumpf. Volunteer residents and staff members provide tutoring in math and reading.
The Teacher’s Scholarship Fund began in 2015. The first year, four teachers received gift cards. In 2016, residents were so generous they were able to provide 25 teachers with $300 gift cards and present them at the luncheon. Fifty residents donated and an additional $1,000 was contributed by BHI Foundation, part of The Towne House’s parent company. Vogel plans to include every Holland teacher this year.
Holland Elementary is a Title 1 school, which means that half of the students need financial assistance. It is also a school with a special needs focus. “We are so thankful for the partnership,” says J.R. Ankenbruck, principal at Holland. “To have money to spend toward their classroom helps teachers and their kids feel supported – emotionally as well as monetarily.”
“Most teachers pay for classroom supplies out of their own pocket,” says Vogel.
After the luncheon, Lisa Andreas, special education and pre-K instructor, wrote, “It’s day one and you’ve already made a difference.”
“You have really boosted the morale of all the teachers,” wrote Jennifer Manco, special education. “I hope you continue to spread your positivity everywhere you go. You are an inspiration.”
The Towne House residents and staff love making a positive impact at Holland Elementary and other community organizations. It’s their mission, and it’s being accomplished.
Address: 2209 St. Joe Center Road Fort Wayne, Indiana 46825
Phone: (260) 483-3116
Years in Business: 51
Number of Employees: 225