Delivering Fresh Fruit and Hugs
Lynn Wintriss, or the "Fruit Lady," as she is endearingly referred to by many of the Christopher Place men has been a monthly staple at Christopher Place for nearly four years. She has not missed a single monthly visit since she was first introduced to the program during a tour with the Greater Baltimore Committee's Leadership program in August 2006.
"I enjoyed and admired the men so much that I began visiting them the last Friday of every month," says Lynn. At the time, Lynn was the President of Atapco Financial Services and realized how little interaction the men had with women, especially corporate women. Wanting to help the men feel more comfortable interacting with female senior corporate executives, Lynn brings the men breakfast and spends time chatting with them each month. All Lynn asks for in return is a hug, which all of the men enthusiastically give her each time they see her.
Lynn received the nicknamed of "Fruit Lady" when she asked the men what they liked for breakfast and the unanimous request was for fresh fruit. At that point Lynn began personally selecting fresh fruit (and fresh donuts) to bring each month. She also often brings books to donate to the library, which the men flock to before helping themselves to breakfast.
As new clients join Christopher Place, Lynn introduces herself, explains why she visits each month, and says all that she wants in return is a hug. After a look of surprise, all gladly give her a hug in return for her visit.
One Christopher Place resident said some of the men could not believe that Lynn would visit them on her own, without any ulterior motive, but after getting to know her everyone really looks forward to her visits.
Lynn left her position with Atapco Financial Services at the end of 2009 and has begun volunteering in the Christopher Place computer lab twice a week helping the men with their job search and resume completion. She continues to bring breakfast, which had been underwritten by her company, at her own expense once a month.
"My visits are truly a high point of my life. I keep coming back because of the admiration I have for the men, the warmth they show me, and the camaraderie of the group," says Lynn about her time spent volunteering at Christopher Place.
To learn more about volunteer opportunities with Christopher Place, please contact Doris Franz-Poling at (443) 986-9031 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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