35 for 35: Ms. Deatema’s Journey to Loudoun View

April is Volunteer Appreciation Month! APAH is thankful to all of our dedicated volunteers who work throughout the D.C. metro region to support our neighbors. 

Email volunteer@apah.org to get involved today. 

Service has always been a part of Ms. Deatema’s life. She recalls helping an elder cross the street in New York City at just twelve years old after witnessing them struggle. Her impressive background includes a doctorate and three master’s degrees, and she states, “the school system is usually home for me.” She spent more than three decades in the public education spanning multiple states, in addition to working in mental healthcare, the D.C. prison system with new-or-soon-to-be moms, and more.

In 2020, Ms. Deatema realized her mother needed to be closer to family. The COVID pandemic coupled with aging and related factors created an isolating situation, so Ms. Deatema began looking at options to relocate her mother. It took two years to find an affordable solution that worked. Ms. Deatema came across an online listing for APAH’s upcoming development in Loudoun County. At the time, the project was just a construction site, but Ms. Deatema drove by the neighborhood with her mother and saw that the location was physically accessible. Loudoun View seemed like the right fit.

Her mother was the first person interviewed for residency at APAH’s Loudoun View property, an affordable senior community and APAH’s first project in Loudoun County. Through the leasing process, Ms. Deatema learned about APAH’s volunteer program and became intrigued. Ms. Deatema says APAH has been “the saving grace of her family,” helping to stabilize her mother, so she wanted to give back in a meaningful way.

After Loudoun View opened its doors in September 2022, Kelley, APAH’s onsite Resident Services Coordinator at the property, asked Ms. Deatema if she would like to volunteer at onsite food distributions. The initiative, enabled through a partnership with Loudoun Hunger Relief (LHR), delivers supplemental groceries to residents twice a month. Ms. Deatema realized that APAH’s volunteer and resident services programs are special and make a positive impact for residents. She quickly stepped in. Ms. Deatema has been a consistent, friendly face at the property since its opening. She has an “earnest desire to serve” and has gotten to know residents on a personal level. Kelley says, “Ms. Deatema is part of the Loudoun View team. She always goes the extra mile.” Thanks to generous volunteers like Ms. Deatema, the Loudoun View team has expanded, improved, and evolved programs to further meet resident needs.

Through Ms. Deatema’s engagement with residents, she learned that many are trying to eat less meat and have started a vegetarian lifestyle. With this knowledge, APAH coordinated with LHR to provide more meatless options. At the very next distribution, there was a variety of vegetarian products, and the residents were delighted. In addition to the food distribution, she appreciates the “inherent beauty” of community building events, which create a sense of coming together. Holiday celebrations, events that welcome residents’ families and grandchildren, prevent isolation as many residents live alone.

At one point when she was younger, Ms. Deatema told her grandmother that she didn’t know what her purpose in life was. Ms. Deatema’s grandmother responded, “You don’t find your purpose, your purpose finds you.” Growing up in the multicultural Lower East Side of Manhattan, Ms. Deatema values diverse backgrounds and community building. When she was in grade school, she volunteered at a Settlement House, which embraced different communities, brought people together, and connected them with important resources. These experiences were the base of her life as a service provider.

Ms. Deatema says she has lived in Loudoun County “since there were only cows here.” She has seen the county’s evolution and applauds efforts to increase affordable housing production. She says it’s a gift to serve here at Loudoun View. Ms. Deatema invites others who are compassionate about making a difference in the community to volunteer with APAH. She shared that so many people have become co-contributors to the Loudoun View community. To see relationships unfolding and a sense of community where there was once just vacant land is truly special for her.

Ms. Deatema received the 2023 Outstanding Volunteer Award for Adult Volunteer from Loudoun Cares, whose mission is to connect those who serve with those in need to  build  a stronger community.  She will be recognized for her volunteerism at Loudoun View at an award ceremony in May 2024.