Meet Edna and Chris Berger. They were married on January 23, 1948 – or as Edna likes to put it, “on 1, 2, 3, 4, 8.” In the ensuing 70 years, they not only raised their three sons but also fostered 20 children, all the while volunteering wherever they saw the need, whether as a scoutmaster, cub scout den mother, church usher, thrift store assistant or general factotum.
It is not an overreach to say that if they see something that needs to be done, they do it. In 1994 there was a need for an adult day program that would provide care and a safe place to be during the day for those experiencing dementia and Alzheimer’s symptoms, while allowing for a few hours of respite for their caregivers. Edna stepped up and was instrumental in co-developing the Mercer Island’s Senior Social program.
The program has grown considerably since then and meets on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10am to 2pm. According to Program Lead Leslie Sylvetsky, included are physically and mentally stimulating activities, such as arts and crafts, games, exercise, guest speakers and education.
Edna and Chris are major volunteers with this program, seen as “the glue that holds it together,” according to their son Jerry. The dedication and long hours they put in during the early days allowed it to grow and become what it is today: a thriving and valued social group program that both attendees and volunteers look forward to participating in three days a week.
Leslie Sylvetsky has this to add: “Chris and Edna are extremely loyal and dependable and bring a super easygoing attitude. They are fun loving, joke telling, informative, and a big help for anything that needs doing. They have no limits on what they are willing to do to be helpful.”
The Bergers themselves are modest about their contributions, deferring to the talents of the many others who volunteer, as the true core and strength of the program. However, it is not difficult to see how proud they are of what has been achieved over the past 23 years.
While they ready the room for participants by setting up the chairs, making the coffee, putting out napkins, and being certain it is comfortable for participants when they arrive, it is easy to see that the Bergers are in their element. Edna and Chris really care about this program. They joke that it “gives us a reason to wake up and somewhere to go.” But you know that it is much more than that. Edna and Chris cannot hide the fact that they have a deep connection and commitment to Senior Social. And it is more than evident the program is richer for their efforts.
The Bergers have volunteered with RSVP for 30 years, together providing over 15,500 hours of service. We are proud of their contributions to RSVP, the Mercer Island Senior Social Program, and their community over the years.
Congratulations and thank you, Edna and Chris!