At age 94, Anna Wolf seems to have found her dream job. As a volunteer at New Life Thrift Shop, Wolf has found a second family. When they are together, thrift shop volunteers have an easy camaraderie, and Wolf’s grandmotherly, easy-going nature fits right in.
“True friends,” Wolf said of the staff. “The people that work here become your true friends, because they’re just like me. They’re older, and we want to do something for somebody else.”
Over the last five years, Wolf has gradually moved into volunteer work, providing help for foreign students by greeting them and helping them find housing in the area. During the same period, she started volunteering at the thrift shop.
“There’s so many people that come here every week to get clothing and things for their families. It’s one of those special things,” she said.
Wolf said she enjoys the thrift shop because many of her fellow volunteers are also seniors.
“It’s people that just want to do something to prove that no matter how old you are, you are still capable of doing things,” she said.
While the staff at New Life is her work family, Wolf’s extended family is also large, with 10 grandchildren and a new great-grandson.
A native of Lancaster County, Pa., Wolf moved to the Cape Region in 1972 with her late husband, who passed away two years later. She remarried and was later widowed again. Wolf later moved into a retirement village but found it was not what she expected.
Despite being retired since 1974, Wolf has kept active over the years, having been a hostess at Bob Evans and Cracker Barrel before moving into volunteer work. In Pennsylvania, she worked as a secretary to a psychchologist in a local school district. Wolf also volunteered in Pennsylvania with the school district and with the Methodist church she attended at the time.
Her work with foreign students started when she worked at Bob Evans. Through her church, she became a greeter of students when they arrived off the buses. Wolf said she was disheartened this year when many students came over without jobs.
“It’s not fair to them because they came over thinking they could get a job. This year has been sad,” she said. “I think it has worked right most of the years, but this year, because of our economy, it’s just not there.”
Faith has also played a big role in Wolf’s life. When she first moved down to the Cape Region, Wolf and her husband had planned to spend their retirement years alternating between Delaware and Florida.
“That never happened because he passed away. I just stayed. I went through Lutheran Church of Our Savior, which is one of the best moves I’ve ever made in my life,” she said.
Her faith was strengthened early on by an incident in Pennsylvania.
“There was a little truck that I would put the kids in and go out and we painted. I was crossing the Pennsylvania Railroad, and my car stalled. And I looked down and here was a train coming. My brother saw me, because that’s where I was going, and he said, ‘Get out of the car and go back.’ So I grabbed my two little girls and turned around and ran down the road and the train demolished the truck. God kept me alive. It just shows what God can do for you,” Wolf said.
Her faith also helped ease the pain of losing her first husband of 35 years, Hunter.
“We went to pick strawberries and ended up at Beebe hospital, and he died in 10 minutes. Never sick a day of his life,” Wolf said. “I found out that your life can go on if you have your faith, your family and your friends. That gets you through almost everything in your life.”