Sun Lakes’ Mary Ernst saluted by mayor - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Sun Lakes’ Mary Ernst saluted by mayor

June 6th, 2021 development
Sun Lakes’ Mary Ernst saluted by mayor

By Jennifer Gustafson
Guest Writer

Sun Lakes resident Mary Ernst was recently honored by Chandler Mayor Kevin Hartke for her service to local seniors as a volunteer with Neighbors Who Care.

Hartke personally selected her for the Mayor’s Choice Award as part of the city’s annual Volunteer Recognition Program.

Mary was presented with the award in a surprise visit from Victor Hardy, executive director of For Our City Chandler, an organization that works in conjunction with the City of Chandler to serve our community through collaboration and compassion.

Mary has been volunteering with Sun Lakes-based Neighbors Who Care since 2017. She offers her services as a volunteer driver several times a month and has given nearly 400 hours of her time.

Mary is always eager to help our clients who are predominantly homebound seniors in Sun Lakes/South Chandler. These clients often have no one else nearby to help them, so volunteers like Mary are essential to helping them stay in their own homes for as long as feasibly possible.

Of the many services that volunteers provide, Mary says she prefers taking on long-distance driving assignments because she knows that not every volunteer is able to drive to locations like Downtown Phoenix or the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale.

She said she also enjoys the time she gets to spend with Neighbors Who Care clients and helping to bring some joy to their lives.

One such client, a 95-year-old Chandler resident, said she was feeling anxious about an upcoming medical appointment but that “my funky mood was turned around by Mary when she was taking me to see the doctor.

“She was extremely friendly and positive. She listened to me and helped me feel so much better about my situation. And, it turns out that she was right…I had nothing to worry about,” the client said.

Neighbors Who Care Administrative Director Verna Mahnke said, “You can tell that Mary enjoys visiting with clients during their drives together. She just loves being with people!”

On behalf of all of us at Neighbors Who Care, we would like to thank Mary Ernst for her dedication and for being a shining light in our community.

We would also like to thank our friends at the City of Chandler, including Mayor Hartke and Councilmember Christine Ellis for continuing to support our mission to serve seniors in our area.

Volunteers are needed now more than ever as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. We appreciate any time you can give, whether it’s once a week or once a month. We work around your schedule and there are a variety of services to choose from, all of which can be done with safety in mind.

See our website at or contact Jennifer at jennifer@neighborswhocarecom or 480-895-7133.

Jennifer Gustafson is community engagement manager for Neighbors Who Care.


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