Charlie and Mae Silverberg embody the truism that people support what they know and love. The Silverbergs were longtime donors to Emmaus. Their passion for Emmaus stemmed from Mae’s lifelong membership with the United Church of Christ. For much of her life, Mae was a member of St. John United Church of Christ, where she also served as the Financial Secretary for more than 35 years.
Former pastor Reverend Ric Zuch fondly remembers her as ‘meticulous and professional’ in her work managing the church finances. And Rev. Ric shared that he ‘learned more about St. John’ from her than she did from him. St. John UCC has supported Emmaus for decades — through both their annual donations and volunteer efforts. So, it came as no surprise that Mae also began volunteering at Emmaus.
Mae and her friends were known as the ‘mail ladies’ – volunteers we could count on to help us prepare our mail campaigns. However, what was a surprise, until very recently, is just how much of an impact Mae would have at Emmaus. In 2010, Mrs. Silverberg was hospitalized unexpectedly and although she remained active for many more years, she was never able to return to her home and live independently as she had hoped. As her health continued to decline, Mae reached out to her longtime friend and power of attorney, Julie Rhodes, to help manage her financial affairs.
Through Julie, Mae let Emmaus know of her intent to donate her home to Emmaus as part of her estate. As there was no reason not to put her home to use immediately, Mae made her vacant house available to Emmaus for our clients while she was still living “We are so grateful to have a home like this for our clients,” says Lisa Key, Chief Development Officer at Emmaus. “The house is in a beautiful neighborhood and is absolutely lovely inside and out.”
Emmaus called on volunteers to help with ‘moving day.’ With guidance from Julie, Emmaus staff and volunteers packed Mae’s belongings. We even hosted an event that allowed clients and employees to select items they could use both in this home and in other client homes. With the home now empty, modifications were necessary before our clients moved in. (Click Here to see the article which details the many organizations who made this possible.)
The Emmaus facilities team worked to modify her home to make it fully accessible. New flooring, roll-in showers, and widened doorways would be necessary. The team also devised a plan to convert the three-bedroom home into a four-bedroom by transforming a formal sitting room into a bedroom.
The home also required new attic insulation, a retaining wall, and an interior makeover to open the floor plan. These renovations were made possible through generous support from our community. After more than a year of work, the home was ready for Terri, Gaela, Linda, and Denise to move in. These women had previously lived in a different home together and were excited about their new home. Faith is an important part of these women’s lives, so our spiritual care team hosted a “blessing of the home” to dedicate the new space.
Sadly, Mrs. Silverberg passed away in July of 2020. We are grateful that she knew her house had created a warm, safe, welcoming home for our clients. Through the entire process, Julie Rhodes guided Mae and Emmaus through this unique philanthropic project.
In the summer of 2020, Julie shared even more unbelievable news with us. Not only had Mae donated her beautiful home to Emmaus but had also designated an estate gift valued at more than $2,500,000! This incredible donation will be placed in our endowment to ensure the continued support of our clients.
We are amazed by this extraordinary gift and incredibly grateful for the Silverbergs’ generosity. Their legacy gift will not only help pay for the long-term upkeep of the home they loved so dearly but will also help to sustain the services our clients need. Much like many lifelong donors, Mae’s support of our mission and ministry stemmed from her membership with the United Church of Christ.
She volunteered her time, getting to know the men and women we serve. And she gave generously out of her own blessings. With every meal that the Emmaus staff cook, with every trip we provide, and with every new skill that we teach, she is present. Mae’s spirit truly lives on through the Spirited People Leading Spirited Lives at Emmaus.