5/29/2024 | By Terri L. Jones

After more than 50 years of volunteering, Frank and Mae Antkievicz have no plans to quit. The Mechanicsville, Virginia, couple wants others to experience the satisfaction of giving to others.

While many people their age are slowing down and relaxing, Frank and Mae Antkievicz are still working. But the work they do – and have done for more than 50 years – has a much greater reward than a paycheck.

A lifetime of giving back

Over the years, the Antkieviczs have volunteered for a long list of organizations, including Meals on Wheels, Habitat for Humanity, Caritas, Mechanicsville Churches Emergency Functions, and Prison Fellowship Angel Tree. And for the last two decades plus, they’ve also been a driving force behind the English as a second language (ESL) program at Walnut Grove Baptist Church in Mechanicsville, Virginia.

Since the ESL program’s inception, the couple has helped more than 420 students from around the globe learn English. However, their involvement hasn’t ended with teaching. The Antkieviczs have also administered placement tests, purchased books, recruited and trained other volunteers, and promoted the program. Today, Frank directs the program, while Mae, who is a certified ESL instructor, teaches classes, along with the help of other volunteers.

“You take a person who comes into your area, and they can hardly say a word to you,” Frank explains. “They also have a hard time understanding what you’re talking to them about.”

The greatest reward, says Mae, is “the feeling you get from helping someone, when they can start communicating with you.”

Launching new lives

Mae Antkievicz teaching English as a second language to a student, at Walnut Grove Baptist Church, Mechanicsville, Virginia

Frank tells the story of one student from Thailand. Extremely motivated to learn English, the student attended 60 ESL sessions without missing a single class. She also went to citizenship classes, which are part of the program offered by Walnut Grove. The student’s dedication ultimately resulted in her becoming a U.S. citizen and gaining employment in this country.

For the Antkieviczs, the payoff is “when we see these people achieve what they’re trying to achieve and make a better life for themselves,” notes Frank.

Awards drive awareness

For their volunteerism, the Antkieviczs were the recipients of the Virginia Governor’s Volunteerism and Community Service Award and the Hanover County Spirit of Inspiration Volunteerism Award, both in 2023. However, because the couple doesn’t seek the spotlight, they almost turned down the nomination for the Hanover award. In the end, they decided to accept the honor, not for themselves but as a way to spread awareness for the ESL program.

Doing God’s work

After half a century of giving back, neither Mae nor Frank has any plans to stop. “I’m going to do it as long as my body will let me do it,” Mae says.

“All of our volunteering is based on God’s gift and what God gives us to do,” explains Frank. “If you’re religious, you know that God provides for you what He asks you to do.”

And their community is blessed to receive this incredible gift, their 50 years of volunteering.

Related: Community Connection Through Volunteerism

Terri L. Jones

Terri L. Jones has been writing educational and informative topics for the senior industry for over 10 years, and is a frequent and longtime contributor to Seniors Guide.

Terri Jones