AM [Anne Mauro] Making a Difference
by Cate Murway
One in every five Americans is affected by a disability that impacts vision, hearing, mobility, mental development or ability to learn. This translates into 54 million people striving to gain greater independence within their communities.
Anne Elizabeth [Klotz] Mauro leads the group, ‘The Handicapped Crusaders’ who adamantly believe that everyone should be included and get an opportunity to play. No one should sit on the sidelines!
Anne characterizes the club time as “25 percent educational and 75 percent fun”.
Youth of all abilities need recreation in their lives.
Special education teacher/choir director, Edmund Hopper started ‘The Handicapped Crusaders’, a Non-profit 501 c (3), in the fall of 1966, providing social opportunities for individuals with a variety of disabilities. Members range in age from 21 to 76, and have a wide array of disabilities, including those who are blind, mentally challenged and physically disabled.
The group is funded by the nominal $10.00 yearly dues collected from the members and greatly supplemented by the generous donations from volunteers, family members, church members and other organizations.
Their fundraiser, ‘Run the Gates’ 5-Miler and 1-Mile Run/Walk’ takes place in Middletown’s Levittown sections the 1st Sunday in June, starting at Forsythia Crossing Park and continuing through Red Rose and Snowball Gate communities. The Bucks County Roadrunner Club provides the course marshaling and the Middletown Township Department of Parks and Recreation co-sponsors the event. Delta Community Supports Inc., Handicapped Crusaders, and the Center for Independent Living of Bucks County all benefit from the race.
‘The Handicapped Crusaders’ meets the second Saturday of each month [with the exception of July and August] from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at Faith Reformed Church of Levittown, just off the Levittown Parkway at 479 Stonybrook Drive, Levittown, PA.
Besides socialization and a yummy meal, gatherings feature an eclectic mix of themes, including sports day and a bar-b-cue, a Hawaiian Luau party, DJs and dancing and musical chairs, and their selection of favorites, that includes square dancing and Courtney’s Christmas Carolers. The members play Halloween Bingo; make Christmas stocking for Seasons Senior Center and they even plants flowers.
Many of them perform at the Talent Show, singing, dancing and some read poems, paint or build creative pieces with Legos.
The club members are served a warm lunch and participate in crafts and games, and enjoy listening to guest speakers. DJ Mike provides the tunes and many musical activities are hosted throughout the year.
R.N. Dorothy Eleanor “Dot” Zeigler has been working with the group since 1968. The late Rose Marie, her fifth born child, passed away at the age of 12 in 1971 and “she so enjoyed this group, I just stayed”.
Until 1981, bag lunches were served then Dot agreed to cook up their favorites: hot dogs, baked beans and homemade pasta salad and even the very traditional meals for the holidays, with roast chicken or turkey and mashed potatoes and stuffing. The members appreciate the meals but “I appreciate them. They give me much joy when they are all together.”
Dot turned 92 last Tuesday, so happy 92nd birthday, Dot! She advised, “I’m reversing my age, so I will REALLY only be 29.” Anne Mauro added, “God bless her! She runs circles around most of us.”
Ed Hopper retired and Margaret Anna Schaeffer stepped up as leader for at least 15 years, until Anne took over the helm. Margaret’s cerebral palsy-afflicted son, Milton Kurt Schaeffer, the eldest of her three children, was one of the original members. He is retired now and resides in VA with his mom and sister’s family. He misses the ‘Handicapped Crusaders’. “I wouldn’t trade being handicapped. I met so many wonderful people.” Milton worked at the Bucks County Association for the Blind, the Goodwill Donation Center and the Woods Services before they moved.
Margaret remembers first meeting Anne while she was an aid at the Easter Seals Camp during the summer, ‘Camp Sure Foot’, an ACA accredited day camp for children, teenagers, and young adults with disabilities held on the George School Campus in Newtown.
“I am really glad Anne is able to continue the tradition. She is a wonderful, caring person and so dedicated.”
Anne’s family moved to Levittown was she was 4. Anne lost her mother when she was a young child and coincidentally shares her birth date with Elizabeth Ann [Bayley] Seton, who lost her mother, Catherine, in 1777 when she was just three years old. Elizabeth Seton worked tirelessly and established a school dedicated to the education of young girls. The remainder of her life was spent in leading and developing, embracing her vocation and charitable mission.
Anne is a full time employee, the Officer Manager, at Crescent Box Corporation in Bensalem. She has been working there for decades, and all the while, she still allocates a huge portion of her time to volunteer with the ‘The Handicapped Crusaders’.
“They started in 1966 at the Resurrection Church, then the group got too large and the Emmaus Church allowed them to use their Fellowship Hall that accommodated the wheelchairs.”
Now the Crusaders meet at Faith Reformed Church and “some of the members of the Church help and serve at the functions.”
Anne started volunteering for Special Teens when she was in seventh grade. Her grandchildren assist her and help out at times, especially for the “Sport Days”. There are at least 40 members now.
“This is their group. It’s their organization. They love paying their dues. The group is a tight knit group and they are most supportive of each other.”
Anne enjoys listening to the members. “They best part of the day is listening to the stories they tell each other.”
Anne leads this great group of volunteers while they devotedly provide social activities for physically and mentally challenged adults at their monthly get-togethers. The members participate in crafts and games, listen and learn from the guest speakers, and generally just enjoy interacting with one another.
Anne’s leadership is crucial. She exudes brilliant organizational skills with a practical, down-to-earth approach, leading the club members to steady growth, right through their many limitations.
During educational month, the members were able to see and hear the Tullytown Ladder #33 Company fireman “in full gear and masks and how they sound with masks on, so if the need ever arises, they wouldn't be scared or afraid of the men or equipment. They explained what to do if there was a fire in the house and what the firemen would be doing. Ambulance professionals also explained what they would do and ask and the members got to see all the equipment and how noisy it is, so if they needed a ride one day hopefully they wouldn't be as scared, and they would see that they are normal nice people, helping them.”
Anne exhibits such an amazing patience with detail, taking her role to help seriously and sincerely.
“So listen, this is what God gave you; work with what you have. What can you do? Let’s do what you can do.”
Encouragement works wonders!
Love and kindness are never wasted. They always make a difference. Thank you sincerely Anne Mauro.
‘The Handicapped Crusaders’ will celebrate its 50th anniversary on Saturday, September 10th from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Faith Reformed Church. The festivities will include a DJ, music, dancing and lunch.
New members are welcome, but please notify Anne Mauro well in advance to ensure adequate supplies and food. She can be reached at email@example.com or 267.506.9996.
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