Couple retires for second time

March 15, 1998|By LAURA ERNDE

by Ric Dugan / staff photographer

see the enlargement

Carl and Velma ShaferCouple retires for second time

Carl and Velma Shafer retired from teaching more than 25 years ago.

On Friday, Carl, 90, and Velma, 89, gave up second careers as volunteers at the Adventist Community Center in Hagerstown.

Carl Shafer helped found the charity 15 years ago to provide clothing, food and other household goods to the needy. Before that, each of the four Seventh-day Adventist churches in Washington County had small operations.

Carl Shafer has a business card, but it lists no job title. It could say "director," "counselor," or even "hugger." Shafer has filled all those roles.


For the first years that Carl Shafer spent taking care of the poor, Velma Shafer was busy taking in foster children.

She cared for 40, mostly infants and toddlers, from 1969 to 1989, until the Maryland Department of Social Services found adoptive parents.

After giving up that work, Velma Shafer started spending more time at the 27 W. Franklin St. center.

There, the couple saw people in need. Some had lost their jobs, some had just gotten out of prison and others were homeless.

Not all were destitute. Some people simply don't know how to manage money, they said.

One man who came to the center for food later confessed to them that when he got a paycheck, he took his friends out to dinner. Instead of getting mad, Carl Shafer tried to counsel the man.

Another man came to the center drunk and incontinent. The couple cleaned him up and put fresh clothes on him.

"It's sad, really," Velma Shafer said. "But you've got to be good to them because you don't know what their background is. So you have to be kind, at least."

The couple spent Tuesdays and Thursdays at the center.

Carl Shafer spent most of his time interviewing people who came in seeking help.

Velma Shafer worked in a back room helping sort the donations that came in from church members and the community.

On Thursdays, she took the clothing donations home to wash them. Sometimes she did laundry until 1 a.m.

The couple has big plans for retirement, including celebrating their upcoming 66th wedding anniversary and going to her family's reunion in Missouri.

Velma Shafer said she wants to take time to catch up on responsibilities she has neglected.

"There's so many things we leave undone," she said.

Carl Shafer, who grew up on a farm, would like to plant a garden, something he hasn't had time for.

The couple has lived on Mount Aetna Road since shortly after they moved to the area in 1956.

"We'll miss it. We'll really miss it," she said. "But it's time younger people step in."

Filling their place at the center is Sandy Martin, who the couple adopted as a child in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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