Paying it Forward

Jill and Scott Apple
Jill and Scott Apple

Jill and Scott Apple started volunteering for St. Anthony Park Area Seniors because they wanted to give. Now they feel like they’ve received much more than they’ve given.

“Both of us had mothers in other states who received all kinds of help from people in their respective communities,” said Jill. “We felt indebted to those people, and we saw SAPAS as a way to pay it forward.”

But volunteering, they discovered, is a two-way street. The personal relationships they’ve formed have enriched their lives far beyond what they anticipated going in.

One of those relationships was between Scott and Dorothy Hopp. Dorothy and her husband, Ralph, raised a family in St. Anthony Park. Eventually Dorothy moved to 1666 Coffman, and that’s where Scott visited her weekly for two years, reading to her and helping her with a variety of tasks.

Jill has done pharmacy pickups for SAPAS clients, and currently she visits a neighborhood woman to help her with an exercise program.

"That only takes 15 minutes or so,” she said, “but then we just talk. Getting to know another person is one of the great benefits of volunteering.”

Jill and Scott have also met many neighborhood residents by raking their leaves, one of the many services SAPAS provides.

“In both places we’ve lived in St. Anthony Park, we’ve rented,” said Jill. “Without a yard of our own to maintain, it seems natural to help other people with their yards.”

The Apples now rent near College Park, which serves as a starting point for weekly tandem bicycle rides during temperate months. Scott teaches cycling classes at the Midway YMCA, and he and Jill have found that bicycling is a great way to learn the metro area.

Scott sees parallels between bicycling and their volunteer work.

“On a bike, you get a closer look at your surroundings than you do in a car. In volunteering, you get a closer look at people—their yards, their homes, their lives.”

When she’s not volunteering, Jill does fundraising and outreach for the Wesley Foundation, a U of M campus ministry of the United Methodist Church. Scott works for United Health Care, managing diet, exercise, and wellness programs for individuals and groups.

They also keep tabs on their two adult children: K.K., a writer and improv theater performer in Brooklyn, New York; and Max, who works at the Mall of America’s Apple Store.

Scott signs off with one more comparison between bicycling and volunteering: “In both activities, we’re connecting community dots.”