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Empowering Residents to Give Back to Their Community: The Knights of The Hearth Take On Projects with Purpose

October 8, 2019

Residents of The Hearth at Drexel live each day with hope and enthusiasm as the possibilities of tomorrow continue to excite them. Within this close-knit community, residents form meaningful friendships with one another and they discover that anything is possible when you work together.The Knights of The Hearth, the community’s active men’s club, have learned first-hand that with the help of a friend nearby, seemingly large challenges can become remarkable accomplishments.  Setting out to complete one of their more recent projects, The Knights decided to build a wooden bench that memory care residents and all of those who call The Hearth home could use in their community.

A task that required great attention, effort, and care, The Knights were extremely excited to take this new challenge on. And they’re certainly happy that they did as the woodworking venture not only confirmed the men’s strength and independence but also empowered them to give back to the people of their community.

Alyiah Muhammad, community life leader at The Hearth who helps The Knights organize fun events and projects, explains how the union of this men’s club first began. “Besides giving our male residents an opportunity to bond and express themselves, the group started as an initiative to bring the memory care and assisted living households of The Hearth together.”

Certainly bringing them closer to their memory care neighbors, this woodshop project empowered the group of men to overcome outstanding obstacles and accomplish remarkable feats. “Many of our male residents think they can’t do the things they used to, but they really can,” Alyiah says.

In an attempt to think of a project that would help the men realize they can still partake in the passions of their past and do the things they used to, Alyiah came up with an excellent idea. And it especially related to the previous pastime of one Knight in particular. Fellow Knight and resident at The Hearth, Don E., has owned and operated a furniture store with his wife for many years.

“My wife and I used to put the furniture together ourselves,” he says. “Our furniture is not cheaply made so it was no easy task putting it all together,” he laughs.

Don E. was hesitant to think that he could build furniture the way he used to. But when Alyiah came up with this woodshop project for the Knights to complete, those apprehensions easily disappeared. As they worked alongside The Knights in this new challenge, Alyiah and The Hearth’s facilities team member, Stephan, helped the men realize they were certainly capable of completing such a project, and that their passions of the past could be their triumphs of today.

“We first started with a set of children’s chairs,” Alyiah explains. With humble kindness and generosity, The Knights made children’s chairs with hopes to donate them to a local daycare or library for families and children to enjoy.

After achieving great success in building the set of chairs, The Knights agreed that if they were going to give back to the children and families of Philadelphia, they wanted to give back to their neighbors at The Hearth as well. And so, the men set their sights on bigger projects and decided to begin building a wooden bench for the people of their community.  “The men wanted to build something that would benefit our memory care residents. That was their idea,” Alyiah explains.

“We got all of the materials we needed, and then we worked together to assemble it,” says Knights of the Hearth member and resident, Don L. “At the end we even stained and painted it,” he remarks. With help from Stephan, The Knights used industrious power tools as they nailed and drilled their way to creating a beautifully made bench for the people of their community.

After all of The Knights’ hard work, the wooden bench that the men made is nestled in the cozy outdoor terrace of the Hearth’s memory care household. This is where memory care residents love to spend time and gather together. In making this bench, The Knights not only brought comfort and relaxation to their fellow memory care neighbors, but they accomplished a goal they didn’t originally think they could. And they developed a great sense of fulfillment and purpose along the way.

“Helping others is empowering,” says Alyiah. The Knights agree as their great accomplishments serve as a source of continuous encouragement and fill them with excitement for their next big endeavor.