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A Touch of Heaven

November 22, 2010

Larry shares this message with all team members on Monday, November 22, 2010, of Thanksgiving week.

“As we start a new week, I’m reminded of the many ways that we experience a “touch of heaven” here at Landis Homes. Many times this comes for your living out our guiding values of Joy, Compassion, Integrity, Stewardship and Community each day as you honor and enrich the lives of residents and their families.

Sometimes the “touch” comes in small packages, as described in the below article which is on the front page of today’s Lancaster Newspaper Local/Business section. Passing it along to you this Thanksgiving week with much appreciation for all that you do to honor lives here at Landis Homes!”

A touch of heaven for Edith Bailey
by Ad Crable, Lancaster Newspapers, Staff Writer

At the Landis Homes retirement community near Lititz, they call it “our special little visitor.”

That drop-in guest, a tiny Allen’s hummingbird found only once before in Pennsylvania, chose 83-year-old Edith S. Bailey to make its celebrated touchdown for 16 days.

The hundred or so birdwatchers who recently flocked to Bailey’s small flower garden from as far as West Virginia and New York couldn’t have been happier.

“I have found that hummingbirds have really good taste in people,” said Scott Weidensaul, who has banded a couple thousand hummingbirds, including Bailey’s.
Maybe, just maybe, Bailey was touched by an angel.

She’s a soft-spoken silver-haired Old Order Mennonite who grew up on a farm near Hinkletown with 13 brothers and sisters, then lived most of her life in Reamstown. (Her book with original sketches about growing up, “Farm Girl,” is available at the Shady Maple gift shop in East Earl.)

At Landis Homes, she’s dedicated the little slice of ground outside her apartment to attracting the tiny birds with the frenetic wing beats.

She stoops each fall to gather the seeds of Mexican sage, hummingbird mint, tutti frutti flowers and other colorful plants designed to catch the eye of discerning hummingbirds. She also hangs a single feeder filled with clear sugar water.

Though she worries each year that she will no longer be able to do it, she plants the seeds each spring, and the explosion of colors overwhelms the other apartments and their prim shrubbery.

On the morning of Oct. 28, she had just finished breakfast and glanced beyond the sliding glass doors to see — could it be? — a hummingbird.

It was. Bailey, who had once been a member of Lancaster County Bird Club, thought it was a rufous-sided hummingbird, a rare but not unheard of stray from the northwestern U.S.

Two days later, on a Saturday, she tried to call the host of a local weekly radio nature show to report her suspicion, but couldn’t get through.

She continued to watch the hummer for a week. Later, she would remember fondly the time alone with the rare bird, without cameras and binoculars and spotting scopes just outside her window.

The following Saturday, she did reach the talk show host. A Columbia woman heard the broadcast and called her birdwatching sister, who called another birder who stopped by Bailey’s.

Within days, Weidensaul and Sandy Lockerman, two of only 200 licensed hummingbird banders in the U.S., had captured the bird and identified it not as a rufous but a juvenile male Allen’s.

The bird, which weighed just more than a penny, breeds in the Pacific Northwest and should have been wintering in southcentral Mexico.

Weidensaul suspects a “hiccup” in the bird’s migration hardwiring had signaled it to fly east instead of south.

After banding it, Weidensaul placed the bird in Bailey’s palm, which thrilled her to no end. She held the creature for precious seconds.

Then it zoomed off so fast that she never saw it leave.

Weidensaul sat her down and asked her if she wanted the world to know what was in her flower patch.

Hordes will come daily for as long as it stays, he warned her. We could keep it a secret, he said.

“She was delighted about the thought of sharing the bird with other people,” Weidensaul happily recalled.

The birders did come, many parking in an area set aside just for the spectacle.

Those who witnessed the hummer talk about Bailey sometimes coming outside to share photos that previous birders had taken.

Though she says she was slightly disappointed that some of her neighbors were more excited about the butterflies on her flowers than the once-in-a-lifetime hummingbird, the excitement lit up Landis Homes.

Residents could be seen emerging from apartments with old binoculars and exclaiming, “Look, I see it! It’s still here!”

“It was comparable to seeing a child’s face on Christmas morning,” Cindy Ahern, a birder from Montgomery County, posted on a statewide birders forum.

“Having worked with seniors, and knowing they are sometimes ‘The Forgotten People,’ I walked away from the complex with a great feeling that I was fortunate not only to see the hummingbird, but to share in the joy, excitement and camaraderie I witnessed here that was sparked from a tiny hummingbird.”

Added Beth Rohrer, director of residential housing for Landis Homes, “It was really a little touch of heaven come down.”

To view photos of the Allen’s hummingbird and Edith Bailey, go to www.lancasteronline.com.


Remarks from Ribbon Cutting of New Homes

October 15, 2010

Pictured are:
Front Row: Connie Stauffer, Larry Zook, Linford Good, Donna Mack Shenk, are joined by business partners from Benchmark Construction, RLPS Architects, RGS Assoc Land Planners and M&T Bank.
Second Row: Bob Brandt, Benchmark; Gregg Scott, RLPS; Steve Conway, Benchmark; Craig Smith, RGS Assoc; Bruce Christman, RLPS; Rich Bidgood, M & T Bank.

Larry’s remarks shared at the Hybrid Homes Open House Ribbon Cutting

October 15, 2010

Good afternoon, and welcome to this Hybrid Homes Open House and Ribbon Cutting! It is a privilege to gather on a beautiful, yet windy Friday afternoon. The wind today reminds us of what may feel like has been a whirlwind of activity this past year of turning a dream to reality!

A bit over a year ago members of the Landis Homes community gathered for a “Plowing in Hope” Service of Blessing, which included a groundbreaking service for the new Hybrid and Cottage Homes which we are celebrating and dedicating today.

At the Service of Blessing in September 2009, Dr. Richard Weaver shared a meditation on “Spirituality and Creation Care”. He encouraged the Landis Homes community to participate with God in being good stewards of creation. Richard offered six suggestions to help us achieve this:

  1. Simplify our lifestyles to use less water and find ways to reduce storm water runoff.
    2. Reduce our energy consumption for heating and cooling, and through use of energy efficient appliances.
    3. Reduce the waste which we send to unsightly holes in the ground.
    4. Compassionately care for each other in and outside these buildings.
    5. In the architecture of our buildings and in our landscaping, seek to capture something of beauty and harmony.
    6. And last but not least, give of our means to help others in our world to find life in Christ and in nourishing food, and thereby help to make it known that it is God’s will for all God’s children to flourish.

As we reflect over the past year, we are grateful for the joint effort of many to bring glory to God through this time of growth of our community at Landis Homes. Many of us here this afternoon have been part of this journey, and we are very grateful for you!

Thank you again for joining us this afternoon in this Open House, Ribbon Cutting and time of Blessing!

– Larry Zook, President/CEO


Help with “Transitioning Aging Parents”

October 11, 2010

Help with “Transitioning Aging Parents”

Larry’s Introduction:

“Dale Carter is author of the copyright 2010 book, “Transitioning Your Aging Parent”, and is on the board of one of the Indiana-based Bridge of Hope chapters. When she was in PA for the Bridge of Hope National Conference, she visited Landis Homes and toured the hybrid homes on October 1. She first learned of Landis Homes through the Glenn Stauffer article about Fellowship Day in the Lancaster Newspaper being shared on Facebook and Twitter. She was speaking with a friend who is also on the Bridge of Hope Board and learned that her friend’s parents are moving into one of the new Hybrid Homes.”

Link directly to Dale’s web blog of October 8, 2010 at : New “Hybrid Homes” for Aging Parents

The text of Dale’s blog is here:

New “Hybrid Homes” for Aging Parents – Unique Concept at Landis Homes
by Dale Carter

When I travel, for business or personal reasons, I very much look forward to meeting with eldercare colleagues and visiting nearby senior living communities. There is great diversity around our country in senior living communities and services offered!

Last week, I had the distinct pleasure of visiting Larry Zook and Landis Homes (a Continuing Care Retirement Community, CCRC) in Lititz, PA. It is an amazing time in terms of growth for Landis Homes, a faith based community nestled in the hills of Lancaster County, PA. An Open House on October 15 & 16 will feature Landis Homes’ new “Hybrid Homes,” blending the benefits of cottage and apartment living.

Before I share the Wow! factor of the new hybrid apartments at Landis Homes, I want to start off by sharing the experience of a dear friend, Norma Jean, whose parents are moving into one of the new hybrids on November 1st. Norma Jean and her 6 siblings listened carefully to her parents’ needs, wishes and values. I wish I could get every adult daughter and son to recognize how listening to their parents’ needs, wishes and values is what guided Norma Jean and her siblings to patiently wait until their parents were ready to move out of their home and into Landis. We absolutely must listen, wait, and help our parents find the right fit.

Here are factors to consider when choosing a senior living community:

Geographic location. This was a key factor for Norma and family. Landis Homes is located in Lancaster County, right between two of her parents’ daughters, and near many of their friends. A neat feature is that Landis Homes is located within an easy 2-3 hour drive of Philadelphia and New York City. It really does open up this wonderful senior living option to many older adults!

Community mission and values. In my mind, this factor is critical. The community’s mission and values will affect a parent’s day-to-day living experience and ultimately their quality of life. Norma Jean’s parents were looking for a faith community that would align with their faith walk. Landis Homes’ guiding principles? Joy, compassion, integrity, stewardship, and community.

Services. Norma Jean’s father looks forward to the wonderful wood-working shop which will allow him to continue making his special Crokinole game boards. Her parents also like that they have an easy walk (or shuttle ride) to the dining room. And, they love the natural setting, the beautiful lakes and peaceful countryside.

The living options. Now to the task of selecting the actual apartment or cottage. Norma Jean’s parents are “thrilled” about moving into one of the new hybrid apartments. They appreciate the covered parking space with elevator that opens up to a ‘common hearth area’ outside their 2 bedroom/2 bath apartment. Norma Jean shares that her parents are “social folks who deeply enjoy spending time with others”, so the hearth area is an important touch. Her mother loves the full kitchen and the extra room they’ll have for guests.

Let me now share the Wow! factor of these hybrid apartments. Thanks to Larry, I got to tour one of the buildings!

Each hybrid building includes 12 2-bedroom cottages. The unique architectural design is amazing. On the lower level, there is indoor parking and a large community room. Upon exiting the elevator (on 2nd and 3rd floors), you’ll find yourself in the hub of the floor, a wonderful open common room with hearth. There is no corridor. Each of the 6 apartments (on 2nd and 3rd floors) has entry off the hub/hearth area. These common areas foster a sense of community which is key at Landis Homes.

You’re in for a real surprise when you enter the apartment. You feel as if you’re in a 2-bedroom cottage. There are windows on 2 of the walls, wonderful natural lighting. Each apartment has a different configuration to satisfy different preferences. And, each unit has its own terrace.

These hybrid homes are also LEED certified, and include features such as geo-thermal heating and cooling, rain water harvesting and solar attic fans. You may recall I shared that stewardship is one of Landis Home’s guiding principles. Well, here is another guiding principle in action!

As I prepared to leave Landis Homes, I spent a few moments gazing out at the lake, taking in the peacefulness of the setting, and reflecting on all that Landis has to offer. I gave my husband a quick call and said, “I think I know where I’d like to retire to!”

More about Dale Carter:

Dale Carter is wife, mother of 3 grown children, and long-distance caregiver to her elderly mother. She is a former educator and university IT consultant. In the spring of 2008, a major life experience (helping her elderly mother through a major health/life crisis) changed the course of Dale’s life work.

Dale created “Transition Aging Parents” as a way to share her experience and reach out to other adult children of aging parents. She provides insight and shares information to help adult daughters and sons ensure their aging parents “thrive and find joy” in every stage of life.

Her goal is two-fold: to serve as a resource for adult children as they help their aging parents through the many transitions in aging AND to highlight this time in their journey together as one of joy, renewed bonds and reflection of lives well-lived.

Who Decides How to Communicate with Consumers?

September 28, 2010

Larry says, “I pass along my deep appreciation for the team effort that goes into our social media journey!! Thank you for all that you contribute to our community-building via these new media channels!”

by Colleen Kinder
Future Age Magazine
September/October 2010

Providers are using the new tools of social media to leverage their roles as trusted sources of information for seniors and their families.

Biking to work one morning, Trace Oberholtzer happened to pass Landis Homes’ garden, where two colleagues were picking fresh herbs. Rather than pedal past this scene, Oberholtzer, Landis Homes’ HR manager, paused to take photos of the early morning harvest. Moments later, the 500 individuals who make up Landis’ Homes’ online community had access to images of the homegrown herbs which, Oberholtzer enthusiastically noted, would flavor Sunday’s ratatouille dinner.

These are the kinds of efforts that Larry Zook is encouraging at Landis Homes, hoping to harness the power of social media to put a human face on the 114-acre, 632-unit retirement community where he is president and CEO.

Through Facebook and Twitter, as well as the company Web site, Zook showcases the ways he and colleagues go the extra mile, from inviting a local artist to make snow sculptures, to running a memory loss support group.

“There are many good things going on at Landis Homes and social media is just a way to open a window into these good things,” Zook explains. He makes a point of writing to new members of the Landis Homes Facebook group to thank them for joining, using the “message” tool as a kind of handshake.

“Making human connections is the greatest benefit [of social media],” says Zook.

One of the first things Zook realized upon creating Landis Homes’ social media platform was that he needed help. “I knew if only one person held this responsibility,” he recounts, “we’d be limiting the depth and breadth” of the platform. He also knew social media was not about high-cost, big-splash publicity, but rather about free and frequent postings that would captivate a broad community of current residents, prospective residents, relatives, staff, community players, and family, potential employees.

So Zook asked four team members-employees like Oberholtzer, who were already passionate about social media and versed in its basic workings-to help him update the Facebook page on a regular basis, using various kinds of multimedia.

“We trust team members to represent Landis Homes and community life well,” Zook comments. The organization’s Facebook page reflects this team effort; a visitor to the page will see videos of ducks on the Landis Homes’ campus, contest announcements, links to helpful articles, and notices about the most recent job openings. According to Zook, the clear benefit of this team effort is “a variety of perspectives and greater depth in making connections with consumers.”

Learning to Participate

“You have to draw [consumers] in by being interesting,” reasons Lori Bitter, president and CEO of Continuum Crew, an advertising and marketing agency specializing in understanding baby boomers. She sees the huge surge in social media activity among people over 45 (a surge she attributes to the recession and the “cocooning” Americans are now doing in their homes) as a mandate to aging-services providers to establish their presence online through social media platforms.

Bitter, in working with providers to do just that, has noticed a common pitfall. “The hardest part is participating [in social media conversations] without self-promoting too much,” she says. “The community owns the platform and this is more about playing by the rules of the community.” She encourages clients to bear in mind that they neither own nor control the medium but instead participate in it. “Its easy for a company to get thrown by the wayside if [it gets] too self-promotional or too newsy,” warns Bitter.

Finding your target audience can be just as challenging, says Tina Mcintosh, president and CEO of loy’s House, an adult day provider in Indianapolis, Ind. “It is very hard to target the caregiver through social media,” claims McIntosh. “Few people refer to themselves as caregivers; she explains. “They don’t put it in their online profiles and biographies.” Consequently, Joy’s House has tried to reach caregivers and seniors through indirect means. It does this primarily by messaging in a way caregivers will identify with (for example, images of women caring for loved ones while juggling various responsibilities) and by developing online content that caregivers and seniors are likely to run Web searches for.

Having now attracted a large online following, Joy’s House is able to analyze its demographics using the Facebook “insights” page. It also receives weekly reports about member activity.

“The average Joy’s House Facebook fan is a female between 35 and 44,” says McIntosh, inferring that Joy’s House’s online following is predominantly caregivers.

Similarly, St. Andrew’s Senior Solutions. St. Louis, Mo., has focused on creating high-quality content tailored to the needs of its target audience. This approach was born of a focus group study that made clear the dearth of information available to family caregivers.

“Sharing good, solid information is our goal,” says Amy Wheelehan, marketing director of St. Andrew’s. “We want people to have a trusted place to turn to when faced with elder-care concerns.” To that end, staff members at St. Andrew’s regularly write articles about caregiving and community-based services and resources. “Some are written by our community partners, who might have more knowledge on certain subjects, like estate planning, for example,” explains Wheelehan. “Developing content-rich information is a struggle,” she admits. Wheelehan and her colleagues have found it more time-consuming than ftrst anticipated. “These sites need to be updated often to keep consumers interested in coming back.”

Nonetheless, St. Andrew’s sees its Web publications as an extension of its purpose: “to enrich the lives of older adults, ease the stress of their adult children, and enable older adults to remain safely and independently in their place of choice.”

Every day, St. Andrew’s publishes new articles on its blog, announcing them through both Facebook and Twitter. From time to time, St. Andrew’s takes advantage of the chance to also share interesting facts about its business through these Web platforms. The greatest advantage of daily Web activity, according to Wheelehan, is the chance “to connect with consumers on a more personal plane.

She offers as an example the “like” and “follow” tools on Facebook, which lend consumers “a certain sense of ownership in that company.”

Creative ideas such as contests and quizzes are another way aging-services providers attract an online following. Joy’s House, for instance, poses whimsical questions like, “How are you spreading the joy this weekend?” (to which online followers can chime in and share personal stories). Landis Homes recently raffled off six BBQ chicken dinners among its new fans on Facebook, using an online random number generator.

According to Zook, these minimal efforts, which he and four trusted coworkers take turns making, have gone a long way in attracting new residents to Landis Homes.

“If prospective residents see vibrant community life on a Facebook page,” Zook says, “it’s a reflection of what they will experience when they move to and join the community.”

The key, according to Bitter, is to establish a social media platform in advance of the moment “when [consumers are] ready to have the conversation.” Whether they’re in the market for apartments or hearing aides, she explained, companies need to already have “a platform that allows [consumers] to enter the conversation that’s not scary and that doesn’t make them feel old.”

“Social media provides a great tool to research what longterm care options exist in a certain location,” Wheelehan points out.

Bitter agrees, foreseeing a day when consumers will use mobile devices to ascertain what services and homes are available within a particular geographic radius. “Everything’s going to be done much more in real time,” she predicts, offering the example of same-day admissions appointments.

Looking ahead, Zook sees great potential for social media platforms to educate and inform consumers about the latest technologies and shifts in aging services. Recent traffic on the Landis Homes Facebook page illustrates this very potential.

What fans of Landis Homes have viewed and tracked most avidly in the past year is the construction of sustainable housing, which Zook and his colleagues have photographed and showcased online. Current and prospective residents alike have taken an interest in this cutting -edge project. The visual aspect of social media has enabled Landis Homes to create in-depth awareness and support of its eco-friendly campaign.

Now, residents know what a rain barrel looks like, how solar lighting works, and finally, what a massive undertaking green construction is. Social media serves as a portal through which the extended community looks ahead to the future.

Colleen Kinder is a writer who lives in Brooklyn, N. Y.

Landis Homes. Lititz, Pa.
Contact: Larry Zook, president and CEO, LZook@landlshomes.org or (717) 569-3271.

Joy’s House. Indianapolis, Ind.
Contact: Tina MCintosh, president and CEO, tina@ioyshouse.org or (317) 254-0828.

St. Andrew’s Senior Solutions. St. Louis, Mo. Contact: Amy Wheelehan, Marketing Director, awheelehan@standrews.com or (314) 726-5766.

Contiuum Crew, San Francisco, CA.



Program changes the way leaders lead

August 10, 2010

Values Based Leadership Program influences individuals from various fields.

by Anna Groff

Lehman’s Hardware employs 120 individuals, but the president of the store, Galen Lehman, did not know all of their names.

When Lehman admitted this during the Values Based Leadership Program (VBLP) last fall, one of the resource people told him, “There’s no excuse for that. You should know all120 names.”

“It became clear to me that I needed to be more relationship-based than task-oriented,” Lehman says.

As one of his goals during the program, Lehman (pictured) made a schedule to meet with each employee for ½ hour and do their job alongside them. Lehman has trouble remembering all the 120 names all the time, but he is improving.

“I know where people grew up, or that they have two dogs or a sick child,” he said. “Those are the kinds of things you don’t get if you sit in an office all day.”

“Other training I’ve taken provided academic and theoretic learning, which was valuable,” Lehman says. “VBLP provided emotional learning, which was invaluable. When I came back, people around me noticed an improvement in who I was and how I led.”

Lehman, along with other leaders, participated in the 2009-10 Values Based Leadership Program of the Institute for Anabaptist Leaders. VBLP, held annually at Laurelville Mennonite Church Center in Mt. Pleasant, Pa., offers two three-day sessions–one in September and one in February–with the intent for participants to put their learning into practice the months in between.

VBLP was the brainchild of Don Rittenhouse, then executive director at Laurelville, along with Lee Schmucker, Ben Sprunger of Mennonite Economic Development Asssociates and Rick Stiffney of Mennonite Health Services Alliance. A pilot program in 2000 led to the first Institute for Anabaptist Leaders at Laurelville in 2002. Initially primarily top executives enrolled in VBLP but now young adults in leadership positions, pastors of all ages, business people and managers at various stages. To register, go to http://www.laurelville.org/VBLP/page_6.html.

Arli Klassen, executive director of Mennonite Central Committee
What did you take away from VBLP?

I wanted to work more intentionally at “encouraging the heart.” My board chair at that time bought me a beautiful red heart that I think was originally intended to be a Christmas tree decoration, and I’ve had it hanging in my office ever since then. My goal is to say something encouraging in every exchange I have with a staff member, board member, or constituent, although I don’t live up to my goal often enough.

Do you have a story to share from your VBLP experience?
While I was at VBLP, the news reached me that Robb Davis, the executive director of Mennonite Central Committee at that time, had abruptly resigned. I knew immediately that this would be a leadership crisis for MCC, and I worried out loud about this with the group. It was suggested to me later that same day that I should consider this role. That was something that took me many months to accept, but I feel that VBLP helped give me confidence in my leadership gifts to consider and eventually accept this request.

What makes this Anabaptist/Christian program different from secular leadership programs?
We shared a commitment to Jesus, the church and to Anabaptist values. I particularly enjoyed the mix of participants. The pastors and church leaders kept us grounded and connected to our faith. The training leaders talked personally about their own faith journey as part of their leadership. Our own faith journey was intrinsically linked with our journeys as leaders.

Larry Zook, CEO of Landis Homes Retirement Community, Lititz, Pa.
What did you take away from VBLP?
We often referred to leadership as a journey, and since the VBLP I’ve at times sought to be encouraging to others on their leadership journeys by using this same phrase, recognizing that we are sojourning together, and that the journey, and the people we relate with along the way, are as important as the end destination.

How has VBLP influenced you as a leader at Landis Homes?
With a better understanding of one’s own, as well as other persons’ personalities and leadership styles, leaders can better support others by seeking to live out a paraphrase of the golden rule, “doing unto others as they would have you do unto them.” The program strengthened my commitment to Anabaptist values and to maintaining and strengthening our Anabaptist identity at Landis Homes. Since organizations are made up of people, I’ve been committed since becoming CEO in January 2007 to offering the VBLP opportunity to two or three senior team or department directors each year.

Barbara Lehman Moyer, associate pastor of Park View Mennonite Church
How has VBLP influenced you?
VBLP helped with my confidence so that I can more fully participate as a valued and appreciated member of the pastoral team. I am learning to lead from my center, which we heard frequently during our sessions. Growing up in the ’60s and ’70s, I never had a female pastor to mentor me or model how to lead as a woman. When I attended seminary in the mid ’80s, all of us were struggling with the challenges of how men and women were going to work separately or together in pastoral ministry and at the conference level. We are still working at that.

What goals did you make for yourself?
One goal was to be more assertive, proactive, and take the initiative in redefining and clarifying some parts of my job description, which needed to be done. Another goal I continue to work on is in the area of “self -care.” I felt led to ask two other women to explore with me the possibility of meeting regularly for prayer, accountability and sharing. It turned out to be one of the most life giving things I have done. For four years, three of us women have met one evening a month for a two-three hour block of time.

Moniqua Acosta, program and member services manager, Mennonite Health Services Alliance
How has VBLP influenced you as a leader?
The program allowed me to feel confident with my work and the choices I make. I worked on a personal mission statement that guides me and serves as a foundation for my professional life. It is a work in progress and ever-evolving but there is some power in putting a mission statement into writing. We all play a part in God’s plans for our world, in our personal family lives and in our work lives, and tying all the pieces together was helpful to see and share with other believers.

How could VBLP be improved?
I would love to see more persons of color as participants in the program. This can be challenging to do but it would benefit the program and participants. Also other types of worship and songs would have been nice. I am not an ethnic Mennonite and so pulling meal-time prayer songs out of memory was not possible. I come from a Spanish-speaking Mennonite church, where our styles of worship differ, and so having more diverse forms of worship would have helped me feel more a part of the group.

Sue Conrad, associate pastor at East Chestnut Street Mennonite Church, Lancaster, Pa.
What did you gain from VBLP?
We were all assigned a “partner” with VBLP. Although my partner, Sandy, lived the Lancaster area, we had not met before VBLP in Laurelville. Due to our close proximity, we were able to have our monthly check-ins in person (between the fall and winter sessions at Laurelville.) Those times with Sandy were invaluable. It was helpful to meet with someone who was not in my specific field of work (pastoral ministry) yet who cared deeply for the church and had the same values for her work (in human resources for a Mennonite retirement community.) Sandy and I hit it off so well, that we have continued to faithfully meet monthly for the past three years.

Editor’s note: Anna Groff participated in this program in 2009-10.

Celebrating a life of compassionate service

July 22, 2010

Larry & Don.

July 22, 2010  

In April 1984, soon after Landis Homes had celebrated its 20th Anniversary, Don Good joined the community as our pastor and chaplain. This week, more than 26 years later, the Landis Homes community is especially grateful for Don’s compassionate service and his countless acts of caring that have touched the lives of residents, families, staff and many others.Under Don’s 26-year watch the Pastoral team has faithfully done the following: 

  • Visited the sick, not just once, but frequently when they are in the hospital care or recovering at home or in the nursing center.
  • Oversaw the building and opening of a second chapel on Landis Homes campus.
  • Visited the grieving which includes residents, team members or board members and their extended family.
  • Began a Grief Support Group to stay in touch with those persons who are grieving on a long term basis.
  • Enlarged the group of Caring Teams, supportive groupings of residents based on living area from 8 in 1984 to 28 in 2010.
  • Held an annual Pastor’s Breakfast to serve as a resource for pastors associated with Landis Homes and those in the local area.
  • Initiated an annual Service of Remembrance for residents who have died for both family members and staff members.
  • Began a support and worship group for retired pastors who are residents.
  • Began a group called Compassionate Connections which is a support for residents on campus who must live apart from their spouses who are receiving care in the healthcare area.
  • Has been a mentor and inspiration to many who are entering similar roles in other retirement communities and church organizations.

I personally remember Don’s ministry to my family and me in my father’s last days as we were gathered in Essa Flory Hospice Center. Don’s compassionate care has likewise touched many lives. If you have a story of Don’s care that you wish to share, feel free to e-mail it to me at lzook@landishomes.org, and I’ll be sure to pass it along to Don.

Larry Zook, president


A Portrait of Landis Homes

June 3, 2010

 Dottie Yoder, Landis Homes resident and board member

A paraphrase of Proverbs 31 written by Dottie Yoder, resident & board member.

“Who can find a Really Good retirement community, for its price is worth far more than all our collective life savings and monies put together.

Where decisions are made on the guiding values of Joy, Compassion, Integrity, Stewardship and Community. Where residents can safely trust these decisions.

Landis Homes seeks to do its residents good and not harm all the days of our lives. Therefore we have no need to grumble.

The management team speaks with wisdom and they work with their minds. Their focus is always the concern of the resident. They attend meetings too numerous to mention, so that all state regulations are met. They know about, and work with, AAHSA, AAPCC, AHIMA, CCAC, LMC, CCRC, CCAP, ACC etc, and do not even grow weary. Strength and dignity are their clothing.

Landis Homes finds staff who are honest, upright and not self seeking. They love peace and pursue it.

The staff knows this is the best place to serve in the county. They strive to keep it so. Some rise while it is still night to prepare tasty, nutritious food gathered from local farms and stores.

The lamps do not go out by night for the generator is always kept ready for outages. Security watches over us by night and does not slumber nor sleep.

It considers a field and a woods. It seeks architects and builders
who do excellent work. It builds so that more persons can find housing appropriate for aging in place.

It digs geo-thermal wells and places rain barrels. It has a vision for taking care of the environment. It is recognized in the city for working to achieve standards for environmentally sustainable construction.

Landis Homes opens it hands to the needy. It feeds the Amish neighbors when a barn burns down. It cares lovingly for each of its residents even after all assets are finished.

It is not afraid of snow. So that the paths are not treacherous, they provide maintenance with shovels and long johns.

Pathways Institute brings teachers from afar to make our learning profitable and our minds strong. They recommend the use of technology and encourage the residents to twitter!

Residents rise up and give thanks.

Yes, there are numerous retirement communities, but you, Landis Homes, surpass them all. Your work will continually praise you in the gates!”

Dottie shared this at the resident meeting on June 2, 2010.


Lancaster County Profits from Retirement Communities

May 2, 2010

Recent news articles about retirement communities and property tax exemption have raised questions in our community about how Landis Homes responds to the issue of property tax. Landis Homes pays property tax on residential homes while supporting exemption on care facilities (assisted living and healthcare) where we provide over $2.5 million of benevolent care each year. We recognize that each organization is unique and may come out at a different place on this matter.

The following “In My Opinion” column appeared in the Lancaster Sunday News on May 2, 2010.

County Profits from Retirement Communities

By Douglas Motter

Recent newspaper articles, editorials and letters to the editor regarding not-for-profit retirement communities and payments in lieu of taxes mask the real story: Lancaster County is blessed with many not-for-profit retirement communities that contribute millions of dollars each year in property taxes, payments in lieu of taxes and gifts.

Those contributions to local school districts and municipalities have been happening for a quarter-century or more and add up to a tremendous amount of community support – paid by not-for-profit organizations doing their part to make schools and services better.

In many cases, the local not-for-profit retirement community ranks among the top five taxpayers in a specific school district when looking at the tax contributions of all employers -including those for-profit employers presumed to pay more taxes than not-for-profit retirement communities.

Yet, rather than being heralded for being the highest or among the highest contributors of taxes or payments in lieu of taxes, these retirement communities have been publicly questioned as to whether they will seek tax reductions.

Most do not plan to seek a reduction in their contributions to schools and municipalities. Some even make additional gifts to their municipalities and fire companies to pay for the services they rely upon.

Most not-for-profit retirement communities accept their unique roles of caring for seniors, providing significant charitable care and, due to the value of their property, paying among the highest levels of property taxes or payments in lieu of taxes.

With not-for-profits, there are no shareholders or owners to take the profits from Lancaster County to a corporate office elsewhere in Pennsylvania or the U.S. Each is governed by a volunteer board of directors that is made up primarily of local citizens. Any excess revenues remaining after all the employees have received their salaries and other bills have been paid are used to advance the mission of the community and provide better-quality care, more jobs and more charitable care.

Lancaster’s not-for-profit retirement communities provide millions more each year in direct benevolent assistance to the seniors for whom they care. This is made possible through endowments and fundraising, providing reduced rates and/or free care to residents who are low on funds. Not-for-profit retirement communities provide millions more in charitable support to back-fill the shortfall from Medicaid payments (the difference between the reimbursement received from Medicaid and the actual cost of providing care).

The economic benefits of Lancaster’s retirement communities are well documented. These communities employ many thousands of people, with an overall payroll of more than $100 million. They draw thousands of older adults to Lancaster County, where they purchase goods and services. And the retirement communities themselves benefit hundreds of Lancaster businesses by purchasing goods and services locally. They help drive the local economy, and as nonprofit organizations, are here for the long haul.

Lancaster’s not-for-profit retirement communities are truly an asset for this community and should be celebrated for the many benefits they provide to elders, employees and other local businesses, in addition to the schools and municipalities that receive millions of dollars in property taxes, payments in lieu of taxes, and gifts contributed each year.

Douglas Motter is president of Homestead Village Inc.

This “In My Opinion” column also was signed by Clifford K. Hurter, president/CEO, Calvary Fellowship Homes Retirement Community; Jerry Lile, president/CEO, Fairmount Homes; Steve Lindsey, CEO, Garden Spot Village; Larry Zook, president/CEO, Landis Homes; J. Nelson Kling, president, Mennonite Home Communities; David Swartley, president/CEO,- Moravian Manor; and Philip Burkholder, executive director, United Zion Retirement Community.

© 2010 Lancaster Newspapers


Honoring Lives

April 28, 2010

Serving Together -Building Relationships – Enriching Lives

At Landis Homes we seek to support the dignity, respect, self-determination and purposeful living choices of residents. In late 2004 we joined the national “Person Centered Care” movement which is leading to transformation of older adult services.

The focus of this movement, resident choice, is aligned with our history and experience at Landis Homes, and is another step in our journey to fulfill our mission of “serving aging adults and their families by honoring and enriching their lives in a community of Christ-like love.”

Over the past five years we have been deepening our understanding and expression of how we honor and enrich the lives of older adults.

In William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Juliet says,
“What is in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”

At Landis Homes we moved closer to calling a rose a rose by recently choosing “Honoring Lives” as the new name for the person centered care initiative. (For a fuller explanation see Honoring Lives, see below.)

Households are at the core of balancing resident choice, dignity and expectations with those of the various team members. Honoring Lives also focuses on enhancing relationships within and between departments while improving communication among residents, families, volunteers, team members and all involved.

The initial pilot site in household formation was Ephrata House in healthcare. Residents and team members, under the direction of mentors, used creative ideas to build relationships in the household. Learning circles were used so that everyone could offer input into areas of mutual concern and interest. One simple example that resulted was the start of breakfast being made to order each day with special resident-choice requests honored.

Household formation is now progressing to other houses. Several months ago, a resident who lives in Manheim House expressed her affection for horses. The next day responsive staff and a close neighbor who owns miniature horses worked together to actually bring one named “Spring” into the resident’s room for a visit to the enjoyment of many. This type of story plays itself out in many beautiful ways throughout Landis Homes each day, as it has over the past 46 years of serving aging adults and their families by honoring and enriching their lives.

Personally I’m very excited about how these efforts correlate closely with our mission at Landis Homes, and align with our guiding values of Joy, Compassion, Integrity, Stewardship and Community. Thank you to all who are carrying out our mission of honoring lives as motivated by Christ’s love!

Larry Zook,

The Landis Homes “Honoring Lives” initiative is…

Serving together

◦   Partnership among residents, clients, families, staff, volunteers and others

◦   Involvement and empowerment of each person

◦   Balancing individual and community needs

 Building Relationships

◦   Genuine respect for each person

◦   Embracing diversity and unique life experiences

◦   Creating an atmosphere of community…a place to belong

Enriching Life

◦   Providing opportunities to grow, learn and discover

◦   Supporting choice

◦   Nurturing the body, mind and spirit

Honoring Lives requires ongoing flexibility, adaptability, spontaneity, dialogue and an openness to change. In the development of households/neighborhoods, it is represented by a shift to a community that is less institutional and more home-like.


Household Formation at Landis Homes

April 22, 2010

Larry posts an address Eva Bering, Vice President of Operations, shared at the Volunteer Appreciation Banquet in April…

By Eva Bering

On behalf of management staff, the department directors and other staff, I would like to express appreciation for the many hours of volunteer work, support and service offered by the volunteers to the residents and to Landis Homes.

Sue has asked me to briefly speak about households. You may hear this word frequently and may see it imprint in LH news or Horizons

What are households and why is Landis Homes involved in this change?

First of all, it seemed like the right thing to do.

Our philosophy of care at Landis Homes recognizes and advocates for health and wellness. This is spiritual wellness, physical wellness physiological wellness, social wellness, Aging is unavoidable, however it is our belief that aging is not synonymous with isolation and physical frailty and lack of ability or desire to make personal decisions. Aging is complex, progressive, irreversible and a natural process.

It is our philosophy that individuals continue to desire friendships, the ability to make choices about what happens to them, the desire for relationships and socialization. Our goal is to provide an environment where that process of again occurs naturally and does not encourage regression. We believe that adults can and do age with a high degree of mental and physical function. We also believe that when physical ability declines it is not the end point necessarily of someone’s contribution to life.

Landis Homes has been involved with a person centered or resident focused care initiative for health care since late 2005. We were selected by the Quality Improvement Organization in PA as one of 51 sites nationally to participate in an initiative looking at changing and improving the way nursing home care happens. Areas studies included turnover of staff, quality outcomes of care and staff satisfaction. The study showed that transformational changes within a nursing home will positively affect the lives of residents and improve the working environment for staff.

Landis Homes has always provided good care and has had and still has a reputation for doing so. We were and are blessed with staff who “really care” about what happens to residents and to their co workers. But we also were very much like every other nursing home in so many ways.

Routinely in a nursing home, resident schedules were formed on an industrial model of routine tasks to be done in a shift of work. There was a time for meals, there was a medication administration time, there was a time to wake up and a time to go to bed. Certain things happened at certain times of the 24 hour day. There were routines. Everyone had a very detailed list of tasks called a job description. The assignment for staff was based on a “tour of duty”. The resident’s home life and personal routine would have been an intrusion if it interrupted the staff routine. But just think about it. when you take a medication one time a day at home , no one wakes you to tell you to take it at 8AM. You take it whenever you wake up, which could be 6:30 AM , 8 AM or 9 AM or 10 AM. You wake up whenever you normally would like to or need to, but no one wakes you up every day so that you are dressed by a certain time so you can have breakfast by 8:30.

You may talk a bath daily or several times a week, It may be in the AM one day and in the PM another day, but it is not on a schedule dictated by someone else.

Landis Homes was no different. The resident schedule was set, built around work to be done. In addition, it was built around tasks to be done by a certain time. This contributed to loneliness, boredom and depression for the resident and lack of social relationships. It was a model built on separation of resident and the staff . There were few relationships that developed. There was little to no flexibility in the day, and limited choices in care decisions.

The resident who lived in a nursing home was essentially stripped of their very being, their personhood. These are individual who have lived a life, raised families, held jobs, made life decisions, shared the gospel in lands we would never go an yet when they entered a nursing home, they were unable to make the most base decisions about their care.

The Federal government has taken a serious look at the nursing home environment and realized that people in a nursing home needed more. The household model is a means to change this. It is promoted and encouraged by the Federal government and state licensure agencies. This encouragement to focus on the resident has driven various models of care…all with the intention to provide a more home like setting for nursing homes, and create a more resident focused environment rather than a staff focused environment.

So what is a household? It is a model intended to create a more natural environment where residents have a say in what happens. It may involve physical changes, but it is not only physical change. It is deep seated change that builds relationship between staff and resident, between staff and staff, and between resident and resident.

As the evolution of the journey continued, certain tasks became evident that they contributed to lack of personal relationships with residents and were preeminent in the day’s priorities.

Landis Homes’ initiative is titled “Honoring Lives”. This clearly fits with our mission statement of The ministry of Landis Homes is to serve aging adults and their families by honoring and enriching their lives in a community of Christ-like love.

The three principles of the Honoring Lives initiative are Serving together; building relationships and enriching lives.

These changes have created a new way of thinking. One department director stated it this way “LH staff would always respond with a “Yes” to a resident request. now they should be adding “and what else may I do for you?” It has created changes in language:

  • Unit to house or household
  • Tub room to spa
  • Feeding to dining or assisting with dining
  • Bibs to clothing protector or napkins

It has changed other areas: consistent staff assignments in nursing, in social services and in dining, Meals are served at a more flexible time, so breakfast may be at 7:30 or it maybe a 9 am. Breakfast is made to order in the individual houses, medications are administered closer to when the person would have taken it at home. Staff do not awaken residents every two hours at night to make sure they are OK.

Staff relationships are different and more team oriented : roles are blending so that everything that can be shared would be shared….nursing may help to set tables for meals, housekeeping may help to clear tables, social workers may receive nurse aide certification so they can assist with some one from a bed to a chair without calling for a nurse. Activities are individualized and based on what the resident wants to do. They may be performed by a social worker, or a maintenance person.

There are many examples within the industry today to help guide nursing homes on their culture change journey. There is no “cookie cutter” model that fits everyone – every organization must decide for itself what mix of elements will work best in its own unique environment…. after all, there is no place like home. Nonetheless there is a replicable process for creating a shared vision and moving forward as an organization to create a home environment.

So how can you as a volunteer contribute your gifts to a household whether that be Oregon house, Manheim house, Ephrata house Lancaster house, Conestoga house, Aspen house, Birch house, or Cedar house.

There is a hope to have a consistent group or one volunteer per house that would become an integral part of the team. Areas to contribute may include conversations with some, reading to others, setting tables, clearing tables, pouring coffee, transfers, playing games, leading a hymn sing, helping with special meals.

I have a few stories.

  1. An Italian woman said she had not made nor eaten home made pasta nor made homemade sauce for some time. Staff bought the ingredients and the woman made home made spaghetti in the house and it was served to all residents and staff that wanted it.
  2. Another resident had made apple dumplings in her past for many affairs and socials. So apples were brought in, and the residents cut the apples, prepared the dumplings, the dough was made from her recipe and the apples dumplings were served to all both staff and residents.
  3. Birthday parties for staff and residents are often held on the houses.
  4. Bridal showers and baby showers have been held on the houses.
  5. Several residents wanted to have a small coffee pot in their room to make coffee before they got dressed. staff are empowered to say “yes” top that rather than ask permission.
  6. Door privacy hangers are made available so that a resident can have privacy.
  7. Locks have been added to the health care doors so that a resident can lock their door if they desire privacy.
  8. The Spring Fling in Personal Care last evening with club sandwiches, pizza and ice cream floats for residents and families. It is easy for most of you to go to a restaurant and order pizza, but it is difficult for many residents in personal care to do that independently.
  9. There was one resident who had spent her life as a missionary sharing the Gospel. She is now confined to a wheelchair and unable to communicate for the most part. One day she was being wheeled by a staff member to another area when she saw another resident in the bed. She tried to go into that resident’s room. The staff member was unsure if she should allow that since the other resident was dying, so the staff member left to ask the charge nurse whether or not she could take the wheelchair bound resident to the bedside.

By the time the staff member and returned, the wheel-chair bound resident had wheeled herself into the room and was holding the hand of the dying resident. She looked at the nurse and said “she is dying.” I tell you this to demonstrate that physical frailty is not a reason to withdraw from sharing gifts of comfort to someone else.

There are still areas to develop, a simple task of taking a dining cart from one house to another by a different staff person may upset a normal routine and is being worked on through negotiation.

Again, I encourage you to consider how you can contribute your many gifts to a house. Please get in touch with either Sue or Joyce if you have an interest.


“Will You Let Me Be Your Servant?”

April 21, 2010

Larry shares a meditation James Martin delivered at the Volunteer Appreciation Banquet on April 17, 2010

April 17, 2010

Meditation given at the Annual Volunteer Appreciation Event

By James R. Martin

Greetings! To each of you as Landis Homes Volunteers, and to everyone as “Servants of Christ”.

It may seem odd to ask you as a group of servant / volunteers the question, “Will You Let Me Be Your Servant?” I know you are joyfully serving others, but I sincerely ask you to think today about this question, “Will YOU Let Me Be YOUR Servant?

In the book, A Christian View of Hospitality: Expecting Surprises, written by Michele Hershberger, there’s recorded a beautiful story of the ministry of serving and being served as told by Nelson Kraybill, President of Associated Biblical Seminary, in Elkhart, IN.

Nelson writes, “A couple in our church has foster children. At a church retreat weekend, I had the opportunity to meet a six-year-old boy who had just come to their home. Little Steve came from a rough background. He had suffered abuse of various kinds. His new foster parents told me, he at first ate his food fast and held it close to his face – apparently because he had been tormented by having food taken away.

“At breakfast I sat with Steve, just the two of us. I asked him questions, and he mumbled answers in monosyllables. After breakfast, the church group gathered for communion and foot washing. I washed feet with another adult, and returned to my seat. Then I noticed little Steve craning his neck to see beyond the circle to the foot-washing activity. ‘Would you like to see what they are doing?’ I whispered to him. He nodded. Together we slipped out of the circle of chairs, and sat cross-legged on the floor to watch the people with basins and towels.

“I asked Steve if he wanted me to wash his feet. Again, he nodded. He sat on a chair, with his feet barely reaching down to the basin. I washed his feet, and he giggled when the towel rubbed his toes. It is customary in our church for people who have washed feet to embrace afterwards. But I was a stranger to Steve, and couldn’t embrace a boy who had been abused. So I put both my hands on his shoulders and said, ‘I’m really glad that you are part of this church.’

“Just as I was heading back to my seat, Steve tugged at my sleeve. He was saying something I couldn’t understand. I leaned down to hear his small voice:
‘I want to wash your feet.’ My feet already had been washed, and in our church nobody is ‘done’ twice! Yet, some divine nudging told me to say yes. A little boy who had been abused, who scarcely knew me, washed my feet. I won’t forget that moment of grace for the rest of my life.”

The Landis Homes logo of a towel and basin aptly illustrates our stated mission, “……to serve aging adults and their families by honoring and enriching their lives, in a community of Christ-like love.”

I once wrote a paper on ‘Foot Washing as an Ordinance’ or religious rite of the Christian Church practiced along-with communion. In reality, some of the early Anabaptists embraced the practice of foot washing with their communion services and others did not. I also wrote a companion paper entitled, “Foot Washing as ‘Sitz-im-Laben”. The German word ‘Sitz-im-Laben’ means ‘situations in life’, or serving others in the menial activities of daily life as Jesus did in washing the disciples’ feet.

All of us have many opportunities in daily life to serve others in Christ-like love. One of my most memorable foot washing experiences was with my own father. Dad had done so much for me and my sister and two brothers throughout our lives. He was a wonderful caring Christ-like father; a great example, and a model to follow.

Dad & Mother were living at Landis Homes in the southwest corner, second floor apartment in what is now Westfield. Dad had successful knee replacement surgery and was home recuperating when I stopped by to visit. Mother mentioned that she finds it very difficult to help Dad remove the ‘stretch stocking’ and replace it with a clean one. A change was much overdue so I offered to do it.

As I carefully removed the stocking and bathed Dad’s leg, I noticed the skin seemed very dry, especially his foot. I asked for lotion and massaged Dad’s leg and foot. He said it felt so good, so I continued massaging his foot for an extended period of time. It was a very rewarding experience for both of us. As volunteers here today, I believe the loving work you are doing for others in the ‘Spirit and attitude of Jesus’, is the most important aspect of Jesus’ teaching on foot-washing, and is very honoring and pleasing to God.

Your service as volunteers is an expression of “Jesus Christ in Street Clothes”, our core values of joy, compassion, integrity, stewardship, and community.

The description of our Stewardship Core Value is: “devoting ourselves to faithful and responsible use of resources entrusted to our care, upholding high standards of performance and quality, striving for excellence, and serving beyond expectations.”

I think the 300+ resident volunteers of Landis Homes and the 175+ volunteers from the community who served 50,000+ hours for the benefit of Landis Homes residents are “serving beyond expectations”. I personally commend each one of you for your service, and on behalf of the Landis Homes Board, read the following from our Mar. 23 minutes: “The LH Board was in full agreement for James to extend their sincere thanks for the many hours volunteered at Landis Homes.”

The LH Board understands the significance of your contribution, for they too are volunteers, giving untold amounts of time in Board meetings, committee work, assignments, educational events, and countless e-mail correspondence. Many of our staff also give time and service beyond our expectations, and all of us together create “our wonderful community of Christ-like love”.

But now let me return to our question, “Will YOU Let Me Be YOUR Servant?”

Pakisa Tshimika and Tim Lind of Mennonite World Conference in their book “Sharing Gifts in the Global Family of Faith”, raise a very important question.

Is there a difference between giving and sharing? They suggest, “Sharing is different than simply giving. It is possible to give a gift anonymously. Particularly in Western culture, anonymous giving is considered by many to be of high merit. There is a place for giving, even anonymous giving. But anonymous sharing is impossible.”

Sharing is about relationship and holistic personal caring for one another. It is more than simply the strong ministering to the weak. While sharing does build up the other, true sharing also receives from the other and is strengthened. The focus is not on equality of sharing, but on sharing according to one’s abilities and capabilities.

Let me illustrate. While serving as the Interim Pastor at Red Run Mennonite Church in the 90’s, a mother responded to an altar call in the Sunday morning worship service. She was born into a Jewish home, married, and the Mother of three children.

In the prayer room, she confessed, “I am coming to Jesus all that I know and all that I understand.”

At the woman’s request and the ministry’s discernment, it was arranged for a mature woman in the congregation to meet with her regularly to mentor and disciple her in spiritual growth. My wife, Betty met regularly with her, giving her much volunteer time and support. On Monday, June 1 of that year, I stopped by her house on an errand and she asked me to take a large beautiful bouquet of flowers along for Betty. I knew they had a very meager cash flow and my first impulse was to think, I must pay her. I believe the Spirit of God nudged me to be silent.

She then said, “Betty has done so much for me, and you know on Friday is her birthday.” I wilted inside and thought, I know Betty’s birthday is June 5, but I’ve not really thought about it yet, I’ve still got four days. I responded by saying, “Oh, thank you very much. I know Betty will be very pleased with such beautiful flowers.”

Years later, as we openly discussed this incident together, she told me that if I had offered and then insisted on paying for the flowers, it would have been very crushing to her. She would have felt worthless, and would have thought she has nothing of any value worth sharing.

My act of graciously receiving a gift from her for my wife was a very significant blessing she needed.
It reminds me of Jesus taking the initiative, and even asking the woman at the well to meet his need; “Give me a drink”? Receiving from the Samaritan woman opened the door for deep sharing, and the woman in turn received “Living Water” from Jesus!

I ask you today, are you able to receive gratefully from others?

In my ministry for Lancaster Conference the past fifteen years, I’ve spent a significant amount of time in study and reflection, teaching and preaching on the subject of stewardship. I’ve reached the conclusion that the first act of stewardship is not giving, but it is receiving. I’m convinced that believers ought to gratefully receive all of life as a gift from a generous God.

All of our material blessings, all of our spiritual blessings, and life itself are gifts from God to us. When we “Receive Gratefully” from the Lord, each new day is a gift of grace. We are then best prepared to “Share Generously”, and to “Manage Faithfully”, and to “Live Trustfully”.

I sometimes say, “All I know about stewardship can fit into these four summary phrases in this order”:

1) Receive Gratefully,
2) Share Generously,
3) Manage Faithfully, and
4) Live Trustfully

Please remember, receiving gratefully from God and others is a godly characteristic.
Biblical hospitality is usually a “shared experience” of both “giving and receiving”.

Abraham hosted three visitors sharing food with them, and Abraham received the good news that a son would be born. Martha showed her hospitality to Jesus by making many preparations, but Jesus preferred Mary’s relational hospitality of sitting with Him and receiving the things he wanted to tell her. Some times, we find it difficult to cease doing and to simply be present to receive from the other.

I think many of us find it a challenge to receive from the other because we have been conditioned to serve and share and volunteer. Think about it, many of us have been taught much more about “giving generously” than “receiving gratefully”. When someone expresses appreciation for your volunteering and serving, do you feel ill at ease, drop your head, or squirm, or discredit your service, and not really accept their affirmation?

Or can you accept a sincere compliment and respond by saying, “Thank You”!

Are we vulnerable enough to admit a small need, and are we humble enough to graciously allow others to supply our need? If we have learned the grace of receiving small things from others, it will help us when we are the ones with a significant need. We will then be able to graciously receive from those who are stronger than we are or have more capabilities than we do?

The Bible does say, “From the fullness of His grace, we have all received one blessing after another.” And as we share with others, it is also true that we have all received many blessings from the other. My call to all of us today is,

Let us continue to grow in the grace of sharing, both in continued giving and especially in the Christian grace of receiving gratefully.

In 1977, Richard Gillard wrote the beautiful song with these words:

Will YOU let me be YOUR servant, let me be as Christ to YOU;
Pray that I may have the grace to let YOU be MY servant too.


New Life to Water Conservation with an Old Idea

April 14, 2010

April 14, 2010

One of Landis Homes’ guiding values is Stewardship, where we devote ourselves to faithful and responsible use of resources entrusted to our care. This includes care of God’s creation, including the earth’s limited fresh water resource. Below is a recent communication shared by Linford Good, Vice President of Planning and Marketing, and one of Landis Homes’ many champions of creation care, about efforts at Landis Homes to bring new life to water conversation.

Article by Linford Good:

Just installed on a cottage located at Clematis 07, a rain barrel is a rainwater collection system that stores rooftop runoff to be used later for activities such as lawn and garden watering, car washing and window washing. New cottages on Amaryllis and Wisteria will have rain barrels.

Benefits of collecting rain water include:

  • Water conservation, by capturing water that would likely run off without being absorbed into the ground.
  • Water reuse, reducing consumption of potable water and electricity to pump and treat it.The Maintenance Team will install rain barrels that are provided by a cotttage resident willing to maintain the barrel. Maintaining a rain barrel involves:
  • Empty the barrel frequently. If not emptied, the water may begin to smell. Put a small amount of baking soda in the barrel , then empty as soon as possible.
  • Drain the barrel during freezing weather. It is recommended to drain the barrel and turn it over during the winter.
  • While screening prevents adult mosquitoes from getting in the barrel, larvae can be washed in from the gutters. Emptying the barrel regularly and adding “mosquito dunks” to the water prevents breeding. Mosquito dunks are a bacterial larvicide, a non-toxic bacterium that kills mosquito larvae.

Stored water should never be used for drinking, cooking or bathing.


Using Social Media to Tell Your Story

March 8, 2010

By Larry Zook

March 8, 2010

I enjoyed joining staff from AAHSA and two other AAHSA members on February 24 in presenting a seminar on “Using Social Media to Tell Your Story” at the AAHSA Future of Aging Services Conference in Washington, DC.

Craig Collins-Young Internet Content Manager at American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging , Ted Goins, President & CEO, Lutheran Services for the Aging, Inc., Salisbury, NC, and Eric Schubert, Director of Communications, Ecumen .

Social Media offers many opportunities to build community and connections with those already using various sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Opportunities are presented not only to share our stories as aging services providers, but also to allow for two-way communication and sharing of experiences and stories by residents, family caregivers, and others who are part of our communities.

At the AAHSA session, I had the privilege of speaking about Twitter, and how we are using it at Landis Homes. A powerpoint that I prepared together with Ted Houser of Ninja Fast Consulting is available at Twitter Powerpoint .

Both Ted Goins and Eric Schubert who also presented have posted blog entries as well, which are accessible at:

For additional perspective on our social media journey at Landis Homes, I also shared a Blog Entry Social Media & Networking in December 2009.



Remembering Martha Charles…

January 28, 2010

January 28, 2010

Few retirement communities have had the privilege of being home to an individual for over 42 years. This has been the privilege of Landis Homes, where Martha Charles lived and served for 42 of her 97 years.

Martha, and her husband Christian, moved to Landis Homes on May 18, 1967, just three years and three months after Landis Homes began serving residents on February 18, 1964. According to former staff member, Ruth Johnson, who joined the staff team in 1967, Martha and Christ as residents also served as weekend backup staff for Superintendent and Matron George and Grace Leaman when they took weekend breaks.

Over the years, Martha was a blessing to many other residents, family members, staff and others. Current Landis Homes Board Members Connie Stauffer and James Martin remember well the times that Martha greeted them at the East Front Entrance as they came to visit family members at Landis Homes. James remembers the support that Martha was to his mother after his father died.

Chris Kennel, Director of Construction Services, has many good memories of Martha from the time he started working at Landis Homes. Each Friday morning Martha and Chris would go to Stauffers of Kissel Hill with the station wagon to pick up produce for the kitchens and personal orders for residents. Chris would get the kitchen order while Martha would get the personal orders. Martha always asked about Chris’ family and how his work was going as they traveled back and forth. Chris said that Martha helped him enjoy his start at Landis Homes.

Joyce Shenk of Landis Homes’ Volunteer Services team, shared that she recently had a conversation with Martha’s Friendly Visitor, Stephanie Lloyd who with her daughter, Grace, visited with Martha over the past year and a half, and their last visit was a week before Martha died. Joyce said that they consider little Grace Landis Homes’ “youngest volunteer”. How appropriate that one of Landis Homes longest serving volunteers was being blessed at the end of her life by Landis Homes youngest volunteer! Ella Burkholder, Director of Laundry and Housekeeping, summed up her feelings by saying, “I’ll never forget her! I’ve known her for 30 years!”

One of my favorite authors, Robert Greenleaf, who at age 70 started a second career in writing about Servant Leadership, said he was inspired by reading a work of fiction in 1958. According to Greenleaf, “The idea of the servant as leader came out of reading Hermann Hesse’s Journey to the East. In this story, we see a band of men on a mythical journey… The central figure of the story is Leo, who accompanies the party as the servant who does their menial chores, but who also sustains them with his spirit and his song.” Leo turned out at the end to be a true servant leader.

As I reflect on Martha’s 42 years of living at Landis Homes, I am reminded of this story, and am very grateful for her example of serving others, in the same way that Jesus invited us to serve others as he took the towel and basin and washed the disciples’ feet.

Larry Zook









Remembering Our Call

January 26, 2010

Lois Good


JANUARY 26, 2010

By Lois M. Good

Board Member

Two weeks ago the focus of our worship at JSMC, James Street Mennonite Church, really impressed me and has been cause for frequent reflections since then. The scripture was a familiar one. Deuteronomy 6:1-9.

This scripture has always impressed and encouraged me in a commitment to teaching our children the Lord’s commands to love the Lord our God and to have practices in my life that encourage me to love God. This scripture taken from the Old Testament has been important to me at many junctures in my life. And we know very well, Jesus’ expansion on this commandment not only to love God but also to love our neighbor.

Whenever I hear this Deuteronomy scripture I think of an apartment where Carl and I lived in the Bronx in the late ’70’s. It was obviously a former residence of an orthodox Jewish family at one time. The kitchen cupboards were ample for keeping a kosher kitchen and there were “mezuzahs” on several door posts throughout the house. They were painted over but nevertheless they were a reminder to us of the law instructing parents to keep God’s commands a vital part of family life.

Two weeks ago, in the children’s story time at JSMC, the children received stickers to put on their foreheads and hands to remind them to love God and their neighbor. I expect some of these children will remember this lesson quite well.

Carl & I are downsizing and it is quite a formidable task! Almost every day I say, “Why did we store and save this for all these years?” I have found old texts from nursing school and college that haven’t been cracked for 40 years, calendars with pretty pictures, old financial records, our first bibles and promotion certificates from our childhood years in SS classes, etc., etc. Sorting these things is both blessing and curse!

What memories and what reminders they are – some good, some not so good! In this sorting experience, I’ve experienced joy and wonderful reminders of God’s goodness, blessings and leading in our lives over our six plus decades!

These items remind us of the teachings. It has given me renewed appreciation for the spiritual building blocks and examples of my parents, family and church. These have been foundational for me! They have guided me over and over in life decisions.

The downsizing and sorting processes have reaffirmed the importance of keeping God’s Word front and center in my life not only for myself, but for our children and grandchildren.

And I believe this has application for LH. This community was founded by Christians with a commitment to love God, and to love others by meeting needs. I suspect if we thought for a few minutes, we might even identify mezuzahs or symbols of the Christian commitment of LH leaders.

At important steps in LH development, we, the board and management have been challenged in how best to love God and serve others. I believe we are at that point in our organization, even now. We have reviewed our mission and values and are attempting to understand how we can love and put God’s commandments into action.

We are God’s people working together to seek God’s way to love and serve. I commend all who have contributed to the LH vision and commitment and the many ways I see it constantly affirmed here at LH. Larry, I commend you for the consistent reminders to the board of our serving role.

As we consider relationships or partnerships with other organizations, let us do our homework and keep God’s Word as our guide. In our opportunities to grow and walk along side of other organizations, let us remember our call to love God, love our neighbor and to do God’s work.

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