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Residents Appreciate Springmoor’s Volunteer-Run Convenience Store Even More During the Pandemic

Bob McGaffin and Emily Castrodale are two Springmoor residents who embody the philosophy of “being the solution.”

For many years, this husband-and-wife team has coordinated a group of volunteers, all residents, to run Springmoor’s convenience store. Other members of the community have always greatly appreciated being able to buy milk, a greeting card, or a candy bar without leaving campus. During the pandemic, the store has taken on even greater significance in the daily lives of residents.

Each week, Bob and Emily put themselves at risk by leaving Springmoor to purchase the essentials other residents need. Despite the disruptions caused by the virus, they have kept the store well-stocked with 300 items, from perishables like eggs and yogurt to essentials such as toilet paper.

Run by 17 volunteers including the couple, the nonprofit store allows those who can’t drive or have limited mobility to get the staples they need much more easily. They don’t need to leave the relative safety of the community and are better able to avoid contracting the virus.

Volunteer run store at Springmoor

Volunteers Are Love in Action

Keeping the store properly stocked requires many hours of work every week. Early each Saturday morning, Bob and another volunteer drive to Harris Teeter to purchase three to four grocery carts full of items. They buy all the nonperishables and bring them back to Springmoor.

Then they make a second trip out to “attack aisle 19,” as Bob puts it, for milk, cheese, and yogurt. Immediately afterwards they price the items and stock the store.

Demand has increased dramatically since the start of the coronavirus crisis. In addition to the major runs on Saturdays, Bob and Emily may make two or three additional trips during the week to pick up perishables like milk, bread, eggs, and orange juice. 

When asked about the most rewarding part of running the convenience store, Bob says “People depend on you and really appreciate you. You get very positive feedback.”

The Couple Met While Volunteering

Emily and Bob, both 89, met in the store almost 10 years ago. When they decided to marry a year later, their families were surprised but supportive. With only six weeks of notice, family came from far and near to attend the couple’s wedding at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, located a stone’s throw from Springmoor.

Emily has lived at Springmoor since 1995 and has coordinated the schedule for the store volunteers for 20 years. She and her first husband made a deposit to secure a spot at Springmoor before it was even built. Her husband died a couple of years after they moved in, and she was glad to be part of such a supportive community.

Bob moved to Springmoor with his first wife in 2005. Someone at his church recommended the community, and he has been “totally happy” with the decision. His first wife had Alzheimer’s disease and was beginning to struggle when they moved in. Both the opportunities for social activity and the care she received before she passed away were “wonderful” Bob says.

A Well-Oiled Machine

The residents control all aspects of the store: which items to stock, setting the prices, and organizing all of the volunteers. In addition to their management responsibilities, Emily and Bob both work as the cashier sometimes as well.

To keep the store running smoothly, Emily leans on her 12 years of retail experience at Thalhimer’s in the china and silver department. She fondly remembers how many wonderful customers would come back to her for repeat purchases. “Some of my customers even wound up living at Springmoor,” she laughs. 

Due to the current pandemic, the volunteers implement a number of safety measures in the store. The cashiers wear masks and gloves, and only two shoppers are allowed in at a time. They provide hand sanitizer, and to avoid spreading germs by handling cash, all purchases are charged to residents’ personal accounts at Springmoor.

“The store is well-run,” says Bob. “In most cases, the volunteers make a long-term commitment. There’s one man in his mid-90s who worked 17 years as a cashier. People need things, and we enjoy taking care of them.”

He also tells a story about a former resident who was extremely appreciative of being able to make a quick trip to the campus convenience store. She had grown tired of taking the Springmoor bus to the grocery store, purchasing a few items, and then having to sit and wait on the bus “for all of the old people to finish their shopping.” “This resident was 94 at the time,” laughs Bob.

The convenience store is just one committee of the Springmoor Residents Association. The Association has 18 other committees that include Grounds, Food Service, and the Stewart Health Center Auxiliary. Volunteering to serve on a committee is one of a number of ways residents can influence many aspects of life at Springmoor.

Making a Difference in the Lives of Others

When asked why she spends so many hours each week on the store, Emily says, “We need to be producing some good in the world. Otherwise we’re not doing our job. We need to take care of each other, and the pandemic means that a lot is going to be required from those who can give, in terms of money and service.”

The store’s official name is simply “Convenience Store,” but Bob has rechristened it “The Little Corner Store: Groceries and More.” Some would say the “More” refers to elements beyond the racks of brightly colored greeting cards and the Hershey’s Kisses available for a nickel apiece. The Little Corner Store provides a prime example of how the Springmoor community has pulled together to address challenges created by the pandemic.

To find out more about life at Springmoor, contact us online or call 919-848-7080. Our community is home to a diverse group of friendly people, and we look forward to welcoming you to our campus!