Delaware law enforcement cadets lend a helping hand at Marydale Retirement Village: Photo Gallery

Sixteen cadets were on hand May 25 to help with gardening at Marydale Retirement Village. Dialog Photo/Mike Lang

NEWARK – The colloquialism attached to law enforcement is “protect and serve” and May 25, Delaware recruits Basic Officer Training Course put the second half of that into practice. As has become the custom at the State Department of Corrections, future corrections, police, and probation and parole officers spent a day serving others.

This year, 16 recruits and some of their superiors traveled to Marydale Retirement Village, the 108 subsidized homes for the elderly on Salem Church Road. Men and women pulled weeds and plants, trimmed bushes, raked leaves and mulched in the various courtyards of the complex. Cathy Weaver, Marydale’s principal, said the facility has a long tradition of having volunteers to help with multiple tasks.

“It’s the first time with this group, and we are delighted to have them,” she said. “It’s even more important because we had two other groups of volunteers who were going to help us earlier in the year, and the weather didn’t cooperate. Our gardens need attention.

Each resident has a space for gardening, Weaver said. Some are not interested in gardening and have cultivated the spaces with grass. Some residents like to do the work themselves, while others are not physically able to do it. Cadets were able to give many residents a head start on their landscaping.

Cadet Barry Lee, supervisor of probation and parole officers, said the group was happy to start their day in Newark. Recruits, he added, are usually in Dover ready to go by 7.30am each morning, so going straight to work in Marydale was no problem.

“Working in law enforcement, we don’t just protect and serve. We help the community in any way. Whether it’s gardening, pruning, raking leaves, we do it all. Service doesn’t stop at protection and service. We try to improve the community in every way possible.

Rick Negley, an instructor at the academy, was knee-deep in leaves and brush for much of the morning. He said leaders weren’t one to sit and oversee.

“One of the things that we always make sure to stick to is that we don’t tell them to do anything that we’re not going to do, and we lead by example,” he said. -he declares. “The point of all of this is that we’re going to show them how we expect them to behave in the community, how we expect them to act around people. I hope they learn and that it becomes their way of acting.

The service days were instituted by Delaware Department of Correction Secretary Monroe Hudson, Negley continued.

“He thinks it’s critical to understand why we do the work we do and what our purpose is when it comes to protecting and serving the community,” Negley said.

Marydale’s connection to the state’s law enforcement community is Dave Tiberi, a board member of Catholic Charities, of which Marydale is a member. Tiberi, a former professional boxer, also provides training at BOTC.

Service work also helps promote a positive image of law enforcement, said Andy Krzanowski, a drill instructor.

“There is a negative light, especially over the last few years, that has been put on law enforcement, and it’s a way of showing the community that it’s not always negative contact that law enforcement law enforcement have. There is also a benefit for the citizens of the community, and we like to come here and help,” he said.

Susie Swartout, who has been in Marydale for about eight years, is the first resident to have work done in front of her unit. Her family will plant flowers in her garden, and for visitors to Marydale it is one of the first they see when they drive up.

“It’s the first area people see when they come to park or just walk around, it’s going to be really cool to see flowers and stuff,” Swartout said. “I like to sit outside in good weather, or even walk around the development.”

It’s important for cadets and other groups to come to Marydale, said Fritz Jones, executive director of Catholic Charities.

“Many of our elders when they arrive have the skills to do their own gardening. You can see it as you walk around. But as our seniors age in place, it becomes harder for them to do that,” Jones said.

Keeping the landscaping maintained “creates community camaraderie,” he continued. “It makes the community more beautiful, but most importantly it gives tenants a sense of pride in where they live, which is really important.”

Weaver said Marydale is trying to attract groups that were helping before the coronavirus pandemic, and add more to that list.

“Even people who would like to adopt a resident can come in once a month and help them with the garden,” she said.

Anyone interested in helping out at Marydale should call (302) 368-2784.

All photos by Mike Lang.

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