April is National Volunteer Month and I’d like to take this opportunity to highlight two of our own long term Waynedale residents. Rosemary Ankenbruck and Rita Mahoney have been Hospitality Hosts at the Fort Wayne International Airport for many years. In fact, Rosemary received an award last fall honoring her 20 years of service!
Rosemary has lived in Lake Shores for 40 years. Widowed for 33 years, Rosemary was married to husband Donald for 30 years. She is proud of her four sons, blessed with eight grandchildren, one new great-granddaughter and looking forward to another great grandchild on the way. An RN and Head Nurse with the American Red Cross Bloodmobile for 18 years, she also worked Post Op at both St. Joe and Lutheran hospitals part time during her child rearing years.
Rosie enjoys playing cards, lunching out with friends including the L.I.F.T. group (Living Information for Today), a social group sponsored by Dignity Memorial. She has been a member of St. Therese Catholic Church for 59 years and sings with the Choir of Hope, is a Eucharistic Minister and has served on their Parish Council.
Her favorite part of volunteering at the Fort Wayne International Airport is being able to talk with a variety of people. One exciting moment was when Rosie personally met Mike Farrell from the hit show MASH when he was recently in town on a speaking engagement. Rosemary has amassed 2,308 hours as an Airport Hospitality Host over the past 20 years. Her advice to anyone interested in becoming a volunteer is to “be friendly and be sure to show your smile.”
Typically, the Hospitality Hosts work as a team. One member hands out cookies to arriving passengers while the other staffs the Information Desk, answering questions, providing directions or recommending a restaurant. Rosemary shares that a comment she often hears as people take their cookie is “I know I am home.” Airport Customer Service and Safety Supervisor Enoch Paul states “The Fort Wayne International Airport Volunteers offer a vital community service by promoting a positive community image and providing information and assistance to passengers, visitors, and members of the general public at Fort Wayne International Airport.”
Rosemary’s partner at the airport is Rita Mahoney. Rita will be celebrating her 94th birthday in June. She grew up in Michigan and moved to Waynedale when her first husband Edward Wasylk was transferred here with his job. She has lived in Avalon addition since 1967 and is also a longtime member of St. Therese Church. Edward and Rita had three sons; tragically, son Bruce was killed in a motorcycle accident just out of high school. Her two remaining sons are Keith and Brent. Between them, they have blessed Rita with five grandchildren and 11 greatgrandchildren. She married again to John Mahoney but is now twice widowed.
Her past and present hobbies include bowling, cooking, crocheting and entertaining. Rita was always very involved at church and in the Avalon Association because as she said “I had the time to do so.” Rita likes to stay busy, meet people and help others which is why she has accumulated over 1,200 hours of volunteering at the airport in a position that fits her like a glove.
The Airport Hospitality Host position is an important role as the volunteers ensure that the first and last impressions of Fort Wayne and the Tri-State area for visitors are a positive one.
As we celebrate National Volunteer Month, I invite you to learn more about becoming a Hospitality Host at the Airport among many other volunteer opportunities by visiting the Volunteer Center website www.volunteerfortwayne.org You can provide meaningful volunteer service and help meet the needs of the community. As Mr. Paul shares “We have a great group of people who love what they do, and are proud to be the ‘Face of Fort Wayne’ at the airport.”