Insightsthe blog of Porter Hills
Ardath McCall – An Active, Vibrant Member of the Community
Cook Valley Estates resident Ardath McCall has always been an active member of her community and has helped empower and encourage countless youth over the years through her life of service.
Ardath grew up on a farm in Hastings. After graduating from Western Michigan University, she made Hillsdale her home for 52 years. She taught home economics for a year then continued her work with youth through 4-H and the Cooperative Extension of Hillsdale County. Her home demonstration groups included a TV show and weekly radio program. Ardath earned her Master of Arts degree from Michigan State University. Later, Ardath organized and taught an alternative school for pregnant teens, as well as court-ordered parenting classes for parents charged with abuse and neglect.
She was introduced to her husband, Jim, by their pastor upon his return from service in the Korean War. Jim ran his family’s lumber business, and the couple raised three children.
The McCall family enjoyed entertaining Hillsdale College students from other countries and provided housing for 60 students over the years from all over the globe – from two-week stays to as much as four years while students attended college. Ardath remains a member of the Hillsdale College Board of Women Commissioners.
Upon retiring, Jim and Ardath were integral in helping to establish the Hillsdale County Community Foundation, thanks to a Kellogg Foundation challenge match that granted $1 million to help start community foundations. “We had to raise $2 million,” says Ardath. Jim volunteered and then served as Executive Director of the newly launched foundation for ten years, while Ardath led the Youth Advisory council.
It was during this time, at a Council of Michigan Foundations meeting, that the McCalls learned about Porter Hills. “We moved there 17 years ago,” says Ardath. “We liked the idea of the continuum of care so that our kids wouldn’t have to worry about us.”
Porter Hills Legacy Society members, Ardath and Jim also became deeply involved in the Grand Rapids community, including the Westminster Presbyterian Church and singing in its choir, and volunteering at the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park. Although Jim passed away ten years ago, Ardath remains active in a variety of interests – in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I had never used Zoom prior to COVID-19,” says Ardath. Now, it is a way of life and a necessity to keep up with her many friends and activities. These include social visits with other Westminster choir members and an “Artists in Residence” class on Tuesdays where she and a group of fellow painters, who formerly met in person, share their art and enjoy time together. On Wednesdays, Ardath and the team of Meijer Gardens docents hold virtual meetings. She and her family have also celebrated special occasions on Zoom, including her brother’s anniversary and her 90th birthday in May.
“I feel privileged to be part of so many wonderful organizations in the community,” says Ardath. “It’s important for me to feel connected with my friends and family.”