Meet Howard Hansen, resident of Carillon of Hillsborough and veteran on a mission for Mission Love Drop
Seventy-four-year-old Howard Hansen is a veteran of the U.S. Army Signal Corps and held multiple jobs during his career—everything from working at a pet cemetery to 19 years as a security guard.
Today, Hansen stays busy as an avid participant in the Love Drop program at Carillon Assisted Living’s facility in Hillsborough. A program at each Carillon residence, Love Drop involves residents baking cupcakes, cookies or other treats. Then they drop them off to employees of public agencies—such as the fire department, police department, or public library—or restaurants, banks and other organizations.
“Love Drop sends a message that we appreciate what you do and here’s a token of our appreciation,” Hansen says. “It tastes good and it takes the edge off the day. Sometimes being a first-responder or police officer is very stressful.”
The fresh baking and deliveries occur every other week, with eight to 12 residents stopping in unannounced at the end of the work day to surprise recipients. Though often done on a Wednesday, sometimes they vary the day to add another unexpected wrinkle. To say the recipients’ reactions are full of joy is an understatement. “When they see our van coming they come out outside because they know what’s coming,” says Hansen with a chuckle. “They love it.”
“By far, the greatest impact was probably on the public works department,” says Executive Director Laurie Sawyer. “Not many people recognize them for what they do. Our visit made such an impact with them that one day they surprised us and come back to the community for a love drop of their own—leaving cards for residents.”
The residents often create themed cupcakes and tailor the decorations to the destination. For the library, they made chocolate cake with chocolate icing to resemble soil and mud, topped with a gummi worm and a card that said, “Thank you for entertaining all the ‘book worms’ at Carillon.”
They made mint chocolate chip cupcakes topped with a Lifesavers’ mint for the emergency medical services (EMS) department. For the Orange County Animal Shelter, Love Droppers made cookies and delivered pet food items collected during a pet food drive at the facility.
The residents bring the goodies while wearing yellow sashes to add flair to the program’s presentation, making that much more of an impact. Carillon residents are used to being very involved in volunteer activities in the past and Love Drops allows them to be a vibrant, meaningful part of their community.
“It brings such a joy to them to go out and deliver these items,” says Spivey, who came to Hillsborough in February of 2015. “They love surprising people. One time we went through the drive-up window at the bank and the clerk asked what we needed. We said, ‘We’ve got something for you.’ The residents were so happy. They were laughing at her reaction ‘We can’t believe you brought us something.’”
Spivey gets the same pleasure from Love Drop that residents do as she takes in the scene from the background. She enjoys not only watching the reactions of recipients, but also of the residents. “Every time we go on a Love Drop they’re so proud,” she says. “You can see them lifted up. I tell them, ‘Love Drops is something that instills joy in our residents every time we do it.”
After needing paramedics’ help soon after moving to Hillsborough last year, delivering sweets to EMS workers and the emergency room at the hospital was especially meaningful to Hansen. “Those are the folks who have to figure out what’s wrong,” Hansen says. “They love it when we show appreciation when we bring things in. It’s one of those ways that we’re able to reciprocate for what they do for us and society in general.”
on December 1, 2016