Manor Moments

Volunteer Spotlight: Joan Sowers

April 2024

Volunteer Spotlight: Joan Sowers
Almost Six Decades of Service and Counting

As part of National Volunteer Recognition Week, which is held April 21-27, 2024, we will be spotlighting a volunteer each day. Cornwall Manor is proud to recognize 352 volunteers dedicated their time and talents to Cornwall Manor throughout 2023, contributing 23,821 hours to our community!

At almost 90, Cornwall Manor resident Joan Sowers has always had a love for volunteering. In fact, she has been volunteering for almost 60 years – and is still going strong. Joan began volunteering for the Society in 1966 but has a lifetime of Cornwall Manor in her heart.

The Golden Cross Society (known today at the Cornwall Manor Society) was established in the spring of 1950 – just six months after “The Methodist Church Home at Cornwall” (known today called Cornwall Manor) was founded. Their mission, which the Society continues to follow 67 years later, is to promote interest in Cornwall Manor and provide funding and programs for Cornwall Manor’s personal care and health center residents.

Joan (pictured second from the left) with the 1976-76 Society officers in Zerr Chapel.

“My first Society “job” was as Secretary of the Nominating Committee in 1966. My son was three and I was looking for something to do to get out of the house,” recalls Joan. Sally Stauffer, who was Joan’s father’s sister-in-law was already involved in the Society and asked Joan to take on the role of secretary.

However, this wasn’t Joan’s first introduction to Cornwall Manor. Joan spent her childhood around Cornwall Manor. Her parents, Claude and Dorothy Stauffer, worked with Bishop Corson and Rev. Dr. Levi Zerr to establish “The Methodist Church Home at Cornwall” in 1949. Joan’s husband, Geoff, also has a long history with Cornwall Manor. Geoff’s father, Edwin, was also on the Board of Trustees (with Joan’s father). Geoff’s mother was also involved in the Society and held the Presidency from 1956-1960. Both Joan and Geoff’s parents lived at Cornwall Manor – as did aunts, uncles and cousins. Joan and Geoff moved to Cornwall Manor in 2004, and are likely the 11th or 12th family members who have moved here.

After Joan’s term of Nominating Secretary ended, she easily found herself drawn to other interests within the Society. She setup the membership and promotion of the Society – which led to her taking on the role of Membership Chairperson, Secretary, President (from 1985-1988) and was a member of the 50th Anniversary Committee. When the Cornwall Manor Society celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2000, Joan recalls putting together the 50th anniversary booklet as one of her favorite memories. “I wanted it to be more than just facts. I wanted it to show the life of the Cornwall Manor Society and all the good we do.”

As the Society is looking forward to celebrating their 75th Anniversary in 2025, it’s no surprise that Joan is also part of this committee. “I’ve really enjoyed watching the Society grow and expand.”

Aside from offices, Joan has been very active in the “bazaars.” In the early days of the Society, they were held twice a year – once in the spring and fall. Today’s ‘bazaar,’ is the ‘Blooms and More Festival’ and is held the first Saturday in May on Cornwall Manor’s campus. She was also instrumental in the Society’s “Shoppe on Wheels” as the first volunteer.  Shoppe on Wheels is a Health Center program established in 1981 that offers various items on a cart (like crackers, candies, greeting cards, sundries etc.) and volunteers “pop in” health center resident rooms to say hello and ask if they’d like to purchase an item from the cart. Joan remembers watching the health center grow and being able to continue as a Shoppe on Wheels volunteer in Cornwall Manor’s new health center, which opened in December 2015.

Joan was also involved in Horizons Unlimited, a memory stimulation program that presented in personal care and the health center and worked as a Shoppe attendant in the Curiosity Shoppe. The Curiosity Shoppe was the “new-to-you-boutique” that accepts donations of men and women’s clothing, jewelry, small household decorative items and resells the items and merged with Campus Collectibles in 2018 to become the “Treasure Trove.”

Looking back, Joan reflects on her almost 60-year history with the Society and is grateful to still be a contributing member. “This is a fantastic organization.” And that it is. The Cornwall Manor Society has given back more than $3 million to Cornwall Manor during their existence to provide capital equipment, needed items and programs for the residents of personal care and the health center and to support Cornwall Manor’s Benevolent Care.

Today, Joan is still active at the Cornwall Manor library where she still volunteers twice a month and she and her husband Geoff are members of Good Shepherd United Methodist Church where Joan is a leader for bible study and she is a liturgist for the traditional service.

All of us at Cornwall Manor are grateful to you, Joan, for all your contributions to the Society and to have you and Geoff as part of the Cornwall Manor family.