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by Charli Depner

When she joined Ashby Village, Mairin Malarka-Meyer was not expecting such a warm welcome. It was a pleasant surprise when people at the Living Room Chat greeted her and started conversations. In addition, Welcome Team members introduce new members to Ashby Village services, volunteer opportunities, and activities.

Mairin recalls her new-member visit from Welcome Team member Barbie Jo Stim: “I just remember having a great time together.” Something clicked for Barbie Jo, too. She concluded their conversation by observing, “You, know, I think you would be a good Welcome Team member.” Soon Mairin met other Welcome Team members Audre Newman, Kathy Barrows, and Liz Raymer. She went along on new-member visits, completed volunteer training, and began making calls on her own.

Mairin enjoys getting to know new members, engaging them in Ashby Village activities, and learning more about how they would like to get involved in the community. Looking back on her own reasons for joining, Mairin remembers thinking “maybe I could be helpful to others.” As it turned out, “I got much more than I gave.” She discovered that staff and a computer volunteer were willing to help her figure out why she was having trouble getting the Dropbox program working. Mairin is also active in the “Hamlet” neighborhood group and was happy to learn that members can participate in any neighborhood group activity.

Mairin grew up in West Ireland. She says that her work and travel interests took her “on a journey of discovery” across the globe, from kindergarten teaching in Ireland to college-level instruction in English literature and composition in the United States. In California, she worked as a computer programmer, advancing to design and manage a “booking to billing” multinational system in the shipping industry. “You learn a lot more in life that you do in college,” she concludes.

Mairin also participates in History Comes Alive at Prospect Sierra School, where her grandchildren attended. The project invites people from the Greatest Generation to talk with students about what life was like during World War II. She gets together with a small group of 8th graders and talks about her experiences as a young child in Ireland. Student compositions based on the conversations are compiled in a book. “It deepens the experience to be able to ask questions of someone who actually lived at that time,” Mairin reports.

Education and opportunity mean a lot to Mairin. She also sponsors an Ethiopian student in Israel.

Mairin loves Berkeley for its cultural activities, climate, natural beauty, and interesting people. When she discovered Ashby Village she was involved in other activities but, she reports, “I was looking for something more…and I found it!” And the Ashby Village community is certainly happy she did!

Article date: April 2017
Mairin will be greatly missed.
Why Volunteering    
Member and Volunteer Mairin Malarka-Meyer