Mary Cahill and Wilder Adult Day Health participant on a boat

One-Day Volunteer Opportunity Turns into Ten-Year Relationship with Wilder


Mary Cahill first became involved with Wilder when she volunteered for the Minnesota Homeless Study. Her day interviewing people experiencing homelessness turned into a decade-long relationship with Wilder.

After Mary’s first experience as a volunteer for the homeless study, her employer, Wells Fargo, provided a grant for awnings at the Wilder Community Center for Aging. During a follow-up visit to the Center, Mary and her colleagues decided to help plant and maintain the gardens on the grounds. Mary found herself seeking volunteers to help, and her involvement at Wilder deepened. “I recruited 20 volunteers to help in planting and general garden maintenance,” she says. “I really enjoyed working with the staff and clients of the Center and wanted to continue to support Wilder.”

One of Mary’s recruits to Wilder is her husband, Mark. “I really enjoy it and have worked with the homeless study, Ordinary Magic and backpack supply drive,” Mark says. Mary, in turn, has expanded her role at Wilder to include contributing as a volunteer in two homeless studies, two Ordinary Magic fundraising events, the backpack school supplies campaign, and the Wilder Community Center for Aging.

Adult Day Health Volunteers Make Field Trips Fun

Mary assists Adult Day Health participants at the Center for Aging during community outings. Adult Day Health helps enhance the quality of life for adults living with chronic health conditions or memory loss. During outings, volunteers help participants on the bus, talk about the event and points of interest along the way, and encourage participants to enjoy the activity at the venue.

At one concert, programs had run out by the time the Adult Day Health participants’ bus arrived. “One of the clients was recalling all the different songs that were played and how much he enjoyed them,” Mary says. “I happened to find a program someone had left behind and gave it to him. He was so excited to have the program. He kept reading it and reminiscing about the songs. It made me feel good in providing that simple gesture of affording someone much happiness.”

Barb Woodward, a staff member at Adult Day Health, says she appreciates Mary’s kindness and her flexibility with time. In addition to field trips, Mary helps participants in a group that arranges flowers every Tuesday. “She is always helpful, but shines when helping with the flower arranging group. We put out over 30 bouquets each week,” Barb says.

Ordinary Magic Volunteers Help Wilder Raise Critical Funds

Mark and Mary also enjoy volunteering at Ordinary Magic, Wilder’s signature fundraising event. “I learned of Ordinary Magic through Wells Fargo,” Mary says. “Mark and I both attended, and we had so much fun. We decided to get on the list for additional volunteering at Wilder. During that first event, we saw the various opportunities for assistance and the next year we told Austine Vaughn (manager of Volunteer Services) what we'd like to join. We intend to make Ordinary Magic an annual occasion!”

Mark and Mary are motivated to give back to the community, but they are also drawn to Wilder because of the impact they have on participants in Wilder programs. “It’s not only helping the community but the employees too,” Mary says. “We are so impressed with the number of employees who volunteer their time to work at Ordinary Magic, to bring plants, pick up supplies, shop, all on their own time. Wilder employees are so welcoming and appreciative of our assistance and make us feel so valued. We truly believe in Wilder’s mission!”



Your presence is the most meaningful part. There are so many opportunities. You can always find volunteer positions that fit your schedule and aptitudes.

Mary Cahill, Wilder volunteer
A guest at Ordinary Magic accepts a wine bottle from volunteer Mary Cahill at the event's wine-pull fundraiser
Wilder volunteer Mary Cahill, right, assists guests at a wine pull at Ordinary Magic, Wilder's signature fundraising event.

Get Involved with Wilder

Sign up for another volunteer opportunity, read more Courageous Stories of volunteers and participants, or make a donation. You decide, but we hope you'll support Wilder’s mission to improve lives today and for generations to come!