"We are always excited to welcome new folks to our community, especially those interested in activism, art, and making the world a better place!"Maggie Moyers, BSN ’21
If you want to learn more about becoming a volunteer for the 2023 three-week retreat, please maggieraemer [at] gmail.com (email Maggie), or visit the Ashmere Project website. New volunteers are always welcome.
Q&A with Maggie Raemer Moyers, BSN '21, who weaves past and present experience with education to foster community and inclusion
Tell us about your current workplace setting and population?
I work in the operating room at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in a variety of service lines from general surgery and transplant, to spine and ortho.
In addition to your clinical work, you have also started The Ashmere Project? Tell us about it.
The Ashmere Project, which takes place in the Berkshires, is a two-week residential retreat for individuals with and without disabilities. Its mission is to create a community that celebrates diversity and fosters inclusion, independence and equity through friendship. Everyone who participates at Ashmere contributes to the community in whatever way works for them. It is a volunteer-run community which means that no one pays to attend, no one gets paid, and everyone chips in to make it a great experience for all. The Ashmere Project is a retreat where we support each other and where lifelong friendships are formed.
Why did you start the Ashmere Project?
Before I got my BSN and became a registered nurse in May 2021, I studied special education and worked in the field, in some capacity, over the last 15 years. While working in the special education world, I noticed how many services there are for children with disabilities, versus the lack of services for adults; they lose many of their services at 22 years old and are often left in a situation without opportunities for community. Even the best day programs and group homes struggle to keep staff, making it challenging for everyone to access these services. I am passionate about providing a community like Ashmere where adults can be adults! Last summer, a group of friends and I started the Ashmere Project to realize our vision of creating a community that celebrates diversity as well as fosters inclusion, independence, and equity through friendship.
What motivates you to continue this work?
What motivates me about the Ashmere Project is that we are a family first. Belonging and having community is what the human experience is about and everyone deserves to experience it. For our inaugural summer in 2022 we rented a beautiful property on Lake Ashmere where we swam, created art, kayaked, performed a play, sang, ate delicious meals by our volunteer cooks, and spent time together! It was the BEST! I can’t wait to do it again in 2023!
How do you incorporate your degree from the Institute into this work?
Participating in this work prior to getting degrees in special education and nursing helped me see my students and patients as people before jumping to their diagnosis and treatment plan. It has helped me focus on listening to my patients' concerns, anxieties, and questions, which can easily get lost in the busy and overburdened state of healthcare. My IHP degree has also afforded me the opportunity to volunteer at Ashmere on the medical side of things. I provide medical care to residents during the retreat as well as organize and administer medications and mentor participants in caregiving.
The mission of the Institute is to prepare health professionals and scientists to advance care for a diverse society through leadership in education, clinical practice, research and community engagement. How do you think that you are living this mission?
I believe that community and relationships are just as important to someone's health and wellbeing as taking their prescribed medications, getting enough exercise and wearing sunscreen at the beach. Many of my friends from Ashmere live in group homes, and skilled nursing facilities, making it challenging for them to go on a trip, or visit with people who are not getting paid to spend time with them. Ashmere provides a space for everyone to connect and have genuine relationships that do not come with the nurse, or PCA title. I feel that the IHP's mission of preparing health professionals to advance care for a diverse society starts and ends with inclusion. I hope I can continue to live out this mission at my job and through the Ashmere Project.