Giving Rye is a new occasional feature highlighting non-profits and community groups in and around the City of Rye. Today meet Marie Johnson of SPRYE.
Your Name: Marie Johnson
Your role: Executive Director
MyRye.com: Tell us your organization’s mission.
Johnson: SPRYE is a membership-based organization for adults 55-years and older who want to live confidently at home and stay meaningfully connected to their community. SPRYE enriches the lives of our members by offering engaging programs, lectures, outings, transportation and technology assistance.
How long have you operated in Rye?
Johnson: SPRYE was organized in 2011, and it recently celebrated its 12th Anniversary. The office is located on South Main Street in Port Chester.
What programming or work in Rye is the organization best known for?
- SPRYE is known for its transportation program that provides rides for members to essential appointments, or offering referrals and recommendations for services using a pool of vetted volunteers.
- Offering free educational, entertaining, engaging programs to older adults in a variety of venues. (Trips to NYC, picnics, Movie Club, Art Appreciation Club, Book Club, Public Affairs lunch once a month, Walking Club, lunch and learn, lectures).
- Offering SPRYE memberships at a deep discount or at no cost for qualifying individuals.
Looking forward to 2024, what will be your top initiatives?
Johnson: SPRYE’s goal for 2024 is to increase outreach efforts and eliminate any barriers (such as financial or transportation) that prevent low-income and/or socially isolated older adults from attending programs.
Tell us about the population you serve and how they can get involved with your programming and services.
Johnson: SPRYE serves older adults, 55-years or older, in four communities and welcomes its members to not only participate in programs and activities but also:
- Volunteer with driving, offer tech assistance-this is very popular and extremely rewarding volunteer work;
- Assist with programs (setting up, clearing up);
- Recommend or lead programs;
- Join the Board or a committee.
Are you a 501(c)(3) non-profit with tax exempt status?
Johnson: Yes, SPRYE is not-for-profit
Looking back across 2023, what were your organization’s top achievements?
- SPRYE held its first Wellness Fair in May 2023 and more than 30 health care services gathered at Shenorock Shore Club for information sharing.
- Started offering programs at a Rye senior residence and in 2024 SPRYE will increase programs to additional residences.
- SPRYE will always offer critically needed, roundtrip transportation to essential medical appointments for its members.
How can local residents support your organization?
Johnson: SPRYE does not receive state, city, town or local funding. Individual donors support SPRYE almost 100% to help SPRYE continue its mission to offer engaging, educational, enriching programs to older adults in an effort to reduce social isolation. Memberships also contribute to helping SPRYE continue to grow and thrive.
What local Rye residents and area businesses have been the longest, steadiest supporters of your organization?
Johnson: SPRYE has a long list of supporters, and we start with the group of founders. In addition, The Rye Record, The Osborn, Christ Church, Rye Presbyterian Church, Church of the Resurrection, Rye Community Synagogue, Agatha Durland Foundation, R & M Woodrow Jewelers, Carpet Trends, The Pearl Restaurant Group, and all the local real estate businesses.
Tell us about you:
How long have you been in your current role?
Johnson: I have served as the Executive Director since June 2018.
Is the role full time or part time? Paid or volunteer?
Johnson: This position is full time and paid.
How would your friends and family describe you in one word?
|Coke or Pepsi?
|Regular or diet?
|Action movie or rom com?
|Cook, order in or eat out?
|Dog, cat or no pet?
|Balsamic vinaigrette or ranch?
|Ruffles Original, Lay’s Barbeque or Funyuns?
|Still, sparkling or tap?
What is the kindest thing someone has ever done for you?
Johnson: Many years ago, a person gave me time, and space, to allow me to finish my graduate degree. I’ll never forget that generosity.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why, and who would you take with you?
Johnson: Spain, to view the architecture, listen to the local music and eat fabulous food. I would take Peg.
What is your favorite streaming / TV series?
Johnson: Right now, it is The Bear, but my all-time favorite is The Sopranos.
What is your favorite movie?
Johnson: That’s tough. The Last Waltz, although some would call the film a musical documentary.
Where do you live in Rye and how many years have you lived in the City?
Johnson: I live in Stamford, CT