2012-08-16 / Life in Leelanau

East Leland couple helps drive ShareCare

By Amy Hubbell
Of The Enterprise staff

LARRY HAUSER and Barbara Abbott of East Leland devote a lot of time volunteering for Share Care of Leelanau. LARRY HAUSER and Barbara Abbott of East Leland devote a lot of time volunteering for Share Care of Leelanau. There’s nothing “retiring” about Barbara Abbott and Larry Hauser.

Longtime county seasonal residents, the East Leland couple moved to the peninsula permanently in 2006, and haven’t stopped since.

Abbott’s parents Horace and Bobbie were among the charter members of ShareCare of Leelanau, a non-profit organization formed in 1993 to provide residents comprehensive, affordable assisted living services in their own home.

So it only seemed natural for the 60-something couple to join the group whose motto is “Helping members achieve the highest quality of life and independence in their own homes for as long as possible.”

Although not required for membership, volunteerism is a major component of the group which has only two paid employees.

Both Abbott and Hauser devote a lot of time as members. They serve as regional co-captains, conduits or liaisons between members and staff, making sure their fellow members have access to the services needed.

Abbott and her co-captain Jill McFarlane do this for 145 ShareCare members in the Leland/Lake Leelanau area. They are somewhat centrally located in the county — with a Lake Leelanau address and Suttons Bay phone prefix — so when a co-captain was needed for another district, covering Suttons Bay, Bingham and Elmwood, Hauser stepped up.

“We keep our finger on the pulse of what members in our districts need,” Abbott said.

Hauser shares captain duties with Chris Halbert of Bingham Township, monitoring the needs of 97 ShareCare members.

“I’ve met a lot of interesting people I wouldn’t have known otherwise,” said Hauser, a retired professor of philosophy at Alma College.

In addition to their roles as cocaptains, Abbott and Hauser have taken on more responsibilities.

“I’ve also been a ‘driver of the day’ and helped organize and schedule the ‘driver of the day,’” Abbott said.

This entails assigning volunteer drivers for each business day on a quarterly basis to drive members to various types of appointments or run errands. But don’t look for Abbott to take credit.

“Deb Wetherbee (office manager) is fantastic,” she said.

In 2001, ShareCare volunteers reported driving 132,396 miles and volunteered 6,571 hours as drivers of the day.

Abbott also makes phone calls to see how ShareCare members are doing; delivers meals to those not feeling well.

“I enjoy being the driver of the day, taking people to their appointments and chatting with them,” she said. “It makes me feel like I’m doing something useful.”

Hauser has also served behind the-scenes as a member of ShareCare’s governing board of directors. He estimates that he performs 20 volunteer hours a month with ShareCare.

“I do it because I like the camaraderie between the members,” Hauser said. “I like helping people stay in their homes longer.”

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