Rescue Mission Alliance of Syracuse

Rescue Mission Alliance of Syracuse

When Lennie Tucker began working with Rescue Mission, she could not have anticipated the extent of her impact on the local senior community. As a retired Kindergarten teacher and an avid runner, her energy is infectious and her care for others is palpable. She has directed her genuine commitment towards her volunteer work at Rescue Missions’ Crossroads Adult Home, a place of refuge for formerly homeless men, most of whom are older adults and seniors.

Lennie views her time volunteering as visiting with friends. She’s formed this relationship over the years through quality time with the residents, and through her mission “to promote healing and recovery through music, art therapy, reading, and exercise.”

Exercise is the activity about which Lennie is most passionate.

Even at the age of 77, Lennie frequently works out with the seniors at Crossroads, often bringing her own equipment and motivating them to set physical goals.

Her ability to teach encourages the men to be stronger, healthier, and happier. An older resident’s comment that “he feels good” is a measure of success for Lennie and the Rescue Mission volunteer staff.

From a young age, Lennie has been inspired to volunteer and to give what she can. She and her family listened to President Roosevelt’s Fireside Chats and took his messages to heart. Her mother and father, who were subsistence farmers, did all they could to help the soldiers who were overseas. They took Lennie out to the fields and they picked milkweed pods together, bundling the fluff to fill soldiers’ mattresses. Lennie learned early on that one doesn’t have to be wealthy or have a lot to give back; a little bit of time and love can make all the difference.

Lennie works with the seniors at Crossroads to help them form a dignified identity, and a supportive familial network among the men. She does all that she can to lift their spirits and to encourage them to be good to themselves and to others. Lennie treats the seniors at Crossroads with the highest levels of respect; she has even worked with a local athletic store to provide brand new sneakers for the residents of Crossroads.

A simple act of giving can change how the men feel about themselves, which is a stepping stone to new attitudes.

A motto that applies to her own work as a volunteer and also the potential of the residents, Lennie insists, “If you can do something, you probably should, even if you don’t know how. You can learn along the way.” 

Learning is exactly what Lennie promotes with Rescue Mission. Her most satisfying moments are when she observes her “students” transforming into teachers of others. Often, it is the oldest residents of Crossroads that take the lead in mentoring their “brothers.”

“There is nothing a teacher likes better than seeing someone she taught teaching other people,” said Lennie.

Seeing formerly homeless seniors flourish in the supportive atmosphere of Crossroads is immensely satisfying for Lennie, a senior herself. Some of the older men have even taken up gardening, or cooking. They see the positive impacts of their actions and they pay it forward. For Lennie, there is no greater reward. She loves her work, and she can’t imagine not having it.