December 22, 2011
This Advent Season has been very special, enriched by being able to read the Advent reflections of residents, board and staff who are part of the Landis Homes community! Thank you to each person who willingly shared from their heart as they reflected on an Advent scripture provided by Donna Mack Shenk, Director of Pastoral Services. (These reflections were posted daily on Facebook and the Landis Homes website.)
The scripture for this last Advent reflection prior to Christmas is John 1:1-5:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. (NRSV)“
The Word, who was with God from the beginning, and to whom all are indebted for their very life and being, came to live among us to be the light. The Word lives among us today, made evident in the community at Landis Homes, through the many acts of love and service by residents, family, board, volunteers, and staff.
As I reflect over the past year, I see the Word dwelling among us in many ways. Here are just a few examples…
- Residents, who after experiencing the death of a neighbor, reach out and care for the family of their neighbors as they grieve the loss of a loved one
- Care given to those living in the broader Lancaster community which resulted in inclusion of the first names of individual Landis at Home staff in the obituary of those for whom they cared
- Staff and residents collecting well over the 1,000 can goal to contribute canned food to a local service organization over Thanksgiving
- Staff and board gathering cash, and other first-time homeowner items, to Tabor Community Services at our annual staff appreciation banquet
- A staff member who offers to provide English as a Second Language classes for other team members
- The “miracle” of this year’s Fellowship Day, which was planned for Sept 10, then on short notice “unplanned” due to flooding, and “re-planned” in a short few days for Sept 17. The event went on to surpass prior year events in terms of dollars raised for the Landis Homes Caring Fund
- The staff member who took time to pray with a resident as they waited for the ambulance to arrive to head to the hospital
- A very special foot washing service, motivated by the example of Christ washing the disciples feet, which was planned by staff who arranged a time to wash the feet of residents. Unexpectedly, a resident asked to wash the feet of a staff member, creating a special bond of mutuality.
These are just a few of the many the light of Jesus has shown among us in the community at Landis Homes this year. The word has become flesh, and does live among us! May we see the light of Jesus in the loving acts and deeds of others. May we experience the joy of serving others grounded in gratitude for the gift of God’s love. May all experience Love, Joy & Peace this Christmas season!
November 15, 2011
Landis Homes welcomed our first residents in February 1964, but the creative dream and vision for Landis Homes began 50 years ago in 1961. Prompted by an offer of a farm by Emma Shenk of Strasburg, Lancaster Mennonite Conference asked Eastern Mennonite Board of Missions to pick up this vision of offering “creative retirement living” for retired missionaries, pastors, church workers and others.
As described by A. Grace Wenger in a history of Landis Homes’ first 30 years, on November 7, 1961 the Mission Board appointed a ten-member planning committee: Levi Brubaker, Ira Buckwalter, Frank Enck, J. Mowery Frey, Charles Good, Clarence Harnish, Sanford High, Adam Martin, Orie Miller and Lester Wenger.
Orie Miller, who convened the first meeting on December 13, 1961, led a devotional meditation based on Psalm 71:17-19 and Psalm 92:12-15. He commented that 10 percent of the US population was over the age of 65 and that there were more than a million people over 85. He asked, “For what is God giving us these additional years?” He answered his own question saying: “Certainly for a purpose, and youth and old age together should find ways to make these extended years meaningful.”
This spirit of seeking to honor God through creatively serving others has permeated Landis Homes history, and a few examples are shared throughout our Annual Report.
One recent example is the story of the “White Rose” an original painting by Eva Beidler (pictured on Annual Report cover, and story on page 15). It gives the history of how the painting made its way through several owners beginning with former board member Louise Stoltzfus, who is deceased, and eventually found its way to be gifted to Landis Homes.
Grace Wenger in her book describes how this spirit of creativity is encouraged in community life at Landis Homes. She shares, “No matter what talents or interests a resident may have—crafts, games, travel, nature study, reading, or writing—Landis Homes offers a creative outlet. Residents and staff unite to “affirm the importance of retirement years as a vital stage of life during which creative expressions are encouraged, recognized and valued.”
We are grateful for the creative acts of many…for Eva Beidler, for Louise Stoltzfus, for Grace Wenger, for Orie Miller, for Emma Shenk, and for all that you contribute as we together “serve creatively.” It takes all of us together to make a community seeking to honor and enrich the lives of others with deep gratitude for Christ’s love for each of us.
October 10, 2011
From our beginning, Landis Homes has been a community of lifelong learners. Fifty years ago in 1961, prompted by an offer of land in Strasburg by Emma Shenk, Lancaster Mennonite Conference embarked on a journey of learning about retirement living that led to Landis Homes welcoming our first residents on February 18, 1964.
According to the 1994 history of Landis Homes by A. Grace Wenger, on September 19, 1961, the LMC Bishop Board, supporting the vision of providing for retired missionaries, directed the Eastern Mennonite Board of Missions and Charities to be responsible for planning the retirement community.
Grace writes, “On October 31, Clayton Keener, Charles Good, J. Mowery Frey, Musser Herr and Ira Buckwalter drove to Goshen to attend a conference on ‘The Church and Its Aging.’ As he recalls the meeting, Charles Good admits he has forgotten many of the good thoughts presented, but vividly remembers a drama produced by Goshen College students showing the problems of adjusting to retirement.”
We continue to learn as the Landis Homes Board and Staff explore ways to both maintain the strength and vitality of the retirement community, and explore new models of affordable living and providing services at home.
I’m reminded also of the learning about life that comes through our school experiences. Landis Homes is blessed to have many teachers among the resident community, and I’m particularly grateful for a number of residents who were my teachers and mentors. These include my mother, Betty Zook (Kindergarten), Lois Witmer (1st Grade), Charles Longenecker (High School) and Dr. Gary Reighard (College).
Larry with his teachers
I’m grateful for my teachers and the many other former teachers here at Landis Homes, as well as other education connections, such as our art student award collaboration with Lancaster Mennonite School, the Grandpals program with Hinkletown Mennonite School, the High School students who volunteer or work at Landis Homes, and last butnot least, the Pathways Institute for Lifelong Learning which provides wonderful learning opportunities for residents and for many of our age 55+ neighbors living throughout the Lancaster area.
I’m reminded most of all of the wisdom that comes from seeking God’s direction in all of life. As a student at Lancaster Mennonite School, the school motto appearing on the front wall of the chapel summarized the essence of lifelong learning well – “Teach me thy way, O Lord.” (Psalm 86:11).
It is truly special to be part of a learning community!
July 27, 2011
Landis Homes Board Meditation
By Rachel Thomas Pellman
The Landis Homes Board of Directors begins each meeting with a meditation and prayer. Board Member Rachel Thomas Pellman shared the following meditation at the start of the July 26 Board Meeting.
Landis Homes history is rooted in a desire to seek God’s guidance and in prayer, and Rachel’s meditation is illustrative of this rich tradition.
Scripture – Luke 9:10-17, Mark 6:30-42, Matthew 14:13-21, John 6:1-13
I think it’s probably fair to say that when the gospel writers Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John wrote the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand, they didn’t have in mind that it would be a lesson for the LH board. However, since I believe that the word of God is living and active, I’d like to look at that story tonight and see what it might say to us, now.
This is the only of Jesus miracles that is told in all four gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. While the essence of the story is the same in each gospel, the details are varied. Because each gospel had some of its own little tidbits unique to that gospel, I’ve compiled bits from each one will read the story with morsels selected from each of the four gospels.
Jesus said to the disciples, “Come away to a deserted place and rest awhile.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. When the crowds found out about it, they followed Jesus; and he welcomed them. Jesus had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. When it was evening the disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is very late; send them away so they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy something for themselves to eat.” But Jesus answered, “You give them something to eat.” They replied, “We have nothing here.” Jesus said to them, “How many loaves have you? Go and see.” One of the disciples, Andrew, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people.” Jesus answered, “Bring them here to me.” Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples, to set before the crowd. And all ate and were filled. When they were satisfied, he told the disciples, “Gather up the fragments leftover, so that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves and of the fish, they filled twelve baskets. Those who had eaten numbered five thousand men.
So what does this story have to teach us?? Jesus invites his disciples to some leisure time. He is sensitive to their (and his) need for some time apart. They get in a boat, and head to what they hope will be a deserted place. As it turns out, the crowds are not easily dissuaded. Thousands of people, guessing the place where Jesus and the disciples will dock their boat, go there on foot and are waiting when they arrive.
The respite for Jesus and the disciples is short – only the time on the boat. When Jesus sees the crowds, rather than feeling angry or discouraged about the lack of a break, the text tells us he feels compassion on them, for they are “like sheep without a shepherd”.
He begins to teach them. Evening approaches and the disciples get a bit antsy. They haven’t planned for crowds of people in a deserted place. They begin to look at the practical, logistical side of things….these people need to eat. They interrupt Jesus teaching and suggest that he send them away…it’s late and they need to start heading out to the countryside and the villages to find food. Jesus says, “You give them something.” The disciples are shocked – they have nothing, and to buy food for all these people would be very expensive.
And here’s the lesson I think might be apropos for our board. Jesus asks, “What DO you have?” Jesus isn’t suggesting they go out and buy something. He isn’t asking them to create something new. His question is, What do we have now? What is it that is already present? What gifts exist among us?
Andrew, one very attentive disciple, knows that there is a small boy with 5 loaves and 2 fish. He shares that information. Jesus says, “Bring them to me.” Jesus asks to have what is available, brought to him. The offering is given to Jesus. It seems like a pretty meager submission. But it is given with willingness and openness to Jesus.
We should remember here that crowds are following Jesus partly because he had been doing miracles. He has been changing water to wine, making blind people see, lame people walk, dead people alive. Jesus could have eliminated any hungry cravings. He could have created food from thin air. But he doesn’t. He looks to his followers and asks them what is available.
Jesus takes what is brought, receives it, and blesses it. After Jesus blesses it, he gives it back to the disciples and asks them to distribute it among the people. Blessing the loaves did not feed the people. Jesus gave that work back to the disciples. With the blessing of Jesus, the disciples were able to distribute food – not only distribute, but distribute with generosity. What they thought was nothing is not just adequate, there is abundance. All the people ate until they were satisfied.
And Jesus doesn’t stop there. He asks the disciples to gather up the leftovers. Bounty was to be enjoyed and respected. Even with a miraculous feeding, there is need for responsibility and care.
So, as a board looking at this story, how might we be fed? For me the challenge is 5 things:
- Acknowledge what we have;
2. Bring our gifts to Jesus;
3. Seek the blessing of Jesus;
4. Do the necessary work with obedience; and
5. Be responsible with the bounty.
July 21, 2011
Earlier this week I was blessed by the opportunity to meet with a businessperson from my church for breakfast. Our conversation was free ranging, and prompted by a desire to get to know others from church at a level deeper than is possible on Sunday mornings and at other church activities.
One comment that my friend shared that stuck with me was that he “loves complaints”. He noted many times he can resolve the complaint by going a bit beyond expectation, and in turn gain a very loyal customer. Sometimes he even finds a way to benefit another customer by resolving the complaint, which offers a win-win-win resolution. Great food for thought!
At Landis Homes we value suggestions for improvement as well, viewing constructive criticism as an opportunity to learn and make improvements. If I have any concern surrounding complaints, it would be that some concerns may be left unresolved because they are not spoken, or at least not shared with a Landis Homes team member who can listen to the concern, own the concern, and help start the complaint resolution ball rolling.
We also talked about overall satisfaction with the services our organizations provide. At Landis Homes, we do both resident/client and staff/team member satisfaction surveys. Many times these results are inter-related. A satisfied staff team many times is better equipped to serve well, resulting in satisfied residents in our retirement community or clients of our home and community service programs.
Our conversation then moved to ways organizations view their structures. Rather than viewing an organization as a pyramid, with the leaders at the top overseeing the work of middle management who in turn direct the work of employees, I like to view an organization in a more inverted format. This view places leaders at the bottom, supporting those who lead specific areas, who in turn support those who are having many moment-to-moment encounters with residents/clients whose lives we together seek to honor and enrich in a variety of communities of Christ-like love.
Pyramids were designed to be tombs. Organizational pyramids too often entomb vision, passion and ministry. Turning this upside down, and envisioning an organization in the shape of a tree, is a much more vibrant picture of a thriving organization. It is alive with the opportunities to produce good fruit, and to benefit all living near it. It is rooted in deep waters. Leaders, at the base of the tree seek to support and provide resources to those who support others who serve those residents and clients of our programs as they lead vibrant and active lives of service and meaning, even given the limitations that sometimes come later in life.
Our guiding values at Landis Homes illustrate this vitality, beginning with Joy, Compassion, Integrity, Stewardship and Community. It is a true joy to serve alongside many staff and volunteer team members who actively share of their talents, time and treasure, and gain much joy from this service, motivated by Christ’s invitation to serve others.
These guiding values call us to take all complaints seriously, so we can listen, learn, and resolve, and thereby strengthen our relationships with those we serve. If you are aware of an area where we can improve our service, we want to hear from you! I can be reached at email@example.com or at 381-3561, or you can contact any team member. Management Team members also welcome hearing of any unresolved concerns as well. We will seek to treat your concern like the real gift that it is to us!
July 14, 2011
Newly Formed Health Information Committee (see article below)
Landis Homes is committed to honoring and enriching the lives of all we serve. This commitment is represented in our guiding values of joy, compassion, integrity, stewardship and community. These values guide our decision-making in many areas, including that of adopting technologies supporting those we serve, and supporting those who are serving.
While Landis Homes has a reputation of being a high-touch, compassionate organization, increasingly high-tech tools and systems are being used to support quality care. We were one of the first local retirement communities to adopt a campus-wide wireless phone systems allowing support staff in keeping in touch with residents and each other.
Landis Homes was also one of the earliest to adopt a campus-wide wireless internet (Wi-Fi) service supporting both staff members and residents in connecting with the internet, thereby with family and friends both near and far. Landis Homes has also been actively involved with social networking through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social media which help to build community.
Crucial to the successful adoption of any new technology is a strong team effort. In surveys of staff members, we have found an openness to learn and to adopt new technologies. An example is Stu Landis, Director of Information Technology. Recently he was recognized with the PANPHA Professional Advancement Award, noting his career that started in Maintenance and led to progressively greater responsibility in guiding our Information Technology efforts. We are grateful to Stu, and other IT Team members, for their support of staff members and residents as we embrace new technologies.
One of the significant technology initiatives currently underway is the selection and adoption of an Electronic Medical Record (EMR). Stu Landis and Eva Bering, VP of Operations, are guiding this effort, along with an excellent Health Information Committee. See article below.
Over the years, other retirement communities in the area have also recognized Landis Homes for its strong IT program. The Landis Homes IT team is currently providing support for two other retirement communities in the Lancaster-Lebanon area.
In adopting new technology, our goal is to always place people first, those we serve, and those serving, in support of our mission of honoring and enriching the lives of aging adults and their families in communities of Christ-like love.
New Health Information Committee Forms
In keeping with a national presidential mandate that all health care providers have an interoperable electronic record in place by 2014, Landis Homes has recently formed a Health Information Technology Steering committee. A group of team members from various departments comprise the committee commissioned to select, adopt and implement the use of an Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system.
The EMR is an individual’s medical information in an electronic format. Information concerning the individual is accessible through the computers on a network. The goal of an electronic record system is to increase efficiency, reduce paper documentation, decrease errors, avoid duplication and increase the quality of care.
Landis Homes’ journey will begin with electronic medical records in health care and then extend to the entire organization. Health care team members are already gathering individual resident information. This process will continue as more information is gathered electronically and as staff members become more adept at using the new computer software and portable technology.
The end result is that up to date health information will be available and portable among multiple care providers. Locally and nationally, the meaningful use of this information will provide clinical decision support, management of disease and resource utilization of specific interventions.
The committee is identifying important elements to be successful in the selection of an electronic record delivery system. The aim for implementation is early in 2012.
The name chosen for this effort is eLINC, which stand for “Embracing life information-networking community.” The committee selected the name which encompasses the scope of this effort in connecting information between various health care providers and across the retirement community campus and to be in line with the Landis Homes guiding values.
May 20, 2011
Larry shares a meditation that Sandy Smoker, Landis Homes’ Director of Human Resources, shared at the May 19 Supervisors/Directors Meeting. As Landis Homes carries out our mission to serve aging adults and their families by honoring and enriching their lives in communities of Christ-like love, we frequently begin meetings with a meditation and/or prayer. The below devotional gives a window into life at Landis Homes. We welcome your comments in response to this meditation…
Devotional shared at Supervisor/Dept. Director meeting
May 19, 2011
Sandy Smoker, Director of Human Resources
From my office this week, I overheard this conversation at the Dogwood Commons desk. A resident said, “So you’re heading back to Alaska?” to which a younger female voice responded, “That’s right.” The resident then said, “That means I probably won’t see you again.” There was a slight pause, and the person responded, “We’ll be together in our final home……I love you, mom.”
Shortly after that, the folks who were leaving walked on the sidewalk by my office, headed toward their car, brushing tears away. As they got into their car, I noticed that the resident headed outside as well, to the parking lot from which they were leaving. She tenderly raised both arms in the air, waving good-bye, keeping her eye on the car until it disappeared around the corner.
And I sat at my desk, tearfully aware of the sacred scene I had witnessed, and freshly aware too of the environment in which we work—an environment where the uncertainties of day-to-day life are very real.
As I prepared for this devotional, two words came to mind: “change” and “remember.” We can readily list changes that are underway: switch to Electronic Health Record; renovations underway in residential living; an expanding south campus; exciting developments in Lancaster City; change to a new Performance and Development System and many others.
Our individual responses to change vary greatly. While some find change to be exciting, providing a vista of new opportunities, others find themselves anxious or fearful or dreading what will be next. As we reflect on the jobs for which we were hired, it’s likely that no one in this room is doing the exact job for which they were hired. We live in a world of change.
Some of our response may depend upon the level of input we have in the change that’s occurring. That level varies among us, and it varies among those we lead. We are privileged and responsible to lead others through change in a way that helps us move ahead together.
The scriptures too are filled with stories of change. Even today, we are ongoing participants in God’s story!!
And now we reflect a bit on the word “remember.” Some of us recall a phrase our parents may have said when we were leaving home, “remember who you are!” What might they have meant in that phrase? It seems it often had a parenthetical thought attached—“remember whose daughter or son you are, and don’t embarrass us!”
Let’s reflect together on God’s words to the children of Israel in Deuteronomy 6:4-12. This followed the time when they received the ten commandments.
4 Attention, Israel!
God, our God! God the one and only!
5 Love God, your God, with your whole heart: love him with all that’s in you, love him with all you’ve got!
6-9 Write these commandments that I’ve given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder; inscribe them on the doorposts of your homes and on your city gates.
10-12 When God, your God, ushers you into the land he promised through your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to give you, you’re going to walk into large, bustling cities you didn’t build, well-furnished houses you didn’t buy, come upon wells you didn’t dig, vineyards and olive orchards you didn’t plant. When you take it all in and settle down, pleased and content, make sure you don’t forget how you got there—God brought you out of slavery in Egypt.
Deuteronomy 6:4-12 (bold added for emphasis)
From The Message
In essence it seems God is saying, “These are the most important things…..this is who you were….this is who you are”
From Psalm 78:
“Stories we heard from our fathers,
counsel we learned at our mother’s knee.
We’re not keeping this to ourselves,
we’re passing it along to the next generation—
God’s fame and fortune,
the marvelous things he has done.
Know the truth and tell the stories
so their children can trust in God”
In Acts 7, Stephen reminds the newly-formed church of believers—remember Abraham, Joseph, Jacob, Moses…..” remember!!
When I remember, I am encouraged. We are in a time of significant change as an organization. It is right that we remember we inherited a legacy, for which we are responsible today and going forward.
God, you have been faithful from the beginning of time.
We trust you as the one who knows us completely. You alone are constant in the midst of change.
In these days, remind us of your goodness, your faithfulness to us and to the ones who have gone before us.
We ask, GOD, that YOU would grace us with the gift of remembering, the gift of wisdom and the gift of courage in our roles as part of YOUR story at Landis Homes!!
April 17, 2011
Larry shares a meditation that Landis Homes Board Chair, John W. Eby, delivered at the Volunteer Appreciation Banquet on April 16, 2011. Landis Homes is grateful to each of the nearly 500 resident and community volunteers who served in 2010, contributing over 43,000 hours of service at Landis Homes. In addition, Landis Homes residents are actively involved in volunteering in other organizations such as Mennonite Central Committee, Mennonite Disaster Service, and others, contributing more than 10,000 hours of service in 2010 to other organizations.
A Comforting Community
John W. Eby
(Edited version of presentation)
John W. Eby, Board Chair
Several months ago the biblical passage for the International Sunday School lesson began with those words from Isaiah 40, “Comfort, Comfort my people.” I immediately thought of that phrase when Sue Shirk asked if I would be available to speak at this volunteer banquet. It is an intriguing phrase and I welcome the opportunity to reflect together on what it might mean for us today.
The work you do is so significant. On behalf of the Board of Directors and all the residents whose lives are honored and enriched by what you do, Thank You! Never underestimate the work you do. Remember the ark was built by volunteers.
Comfort is an important and significant idea in the Bible. it is often used to describe what God provides for people and even the entire nation of Israel when they were in difficulty. And God uses us as followers of Jesus to be God’s agents provide comfort for each other.
A formal definition of suggests that comfort gives strength and hope. It eases grief or trouble.
Providing comfort often means walking with people in difficult situations. I am sure Shadrach Meshach and Abednego felt comfort when they were joined in the furnace so hot it killed the soldiers who threw them in, by a fourth person who the King Nebuchadnezzar said is “like the son of God.” Bishop Tutu from South Africa commented about that story and relating it to the suffering many experienced there during Apartheid, “God does not provide fireproof suits to go into the furnace, but goes right in there with us.”
I am sure Martha and Mary felt comfort when Jesus joined them after the death of Lazarus. Jesus wept with them because he shared their love for Lazarus and their grief upon his death.
The Hebrew men walked out of the furnace and Lazarus walked out of the tomb. God does sometimes rescue us. But more often God gives us strength to, with the support of the community, deal with the pain and suffering and death. Bishop Tutu said about hope in the midst of the intense injustice and suffering caused by Apartheid in South Africa, “of the struggle in South Africa, the story is told of a little girl who came home from school one day covered with mud. Her mother asked what had happened. The girl reported that some bullies had pushed her friend into a mud puddle. When the mother asked what she had done the girl replied, “There was nothing I could do so I jumped into the mud puddle and cried too.”
Sometimes comfort means walking with people in grief and pain.
But remember the Psalmist says in Psalms 51, “Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning.”
Sometimes comfort means sharing a good joke or seeing the humor in an otherwise discouraging situation. Sometimes it means having a good, rousing belly laugh
Let’s go back to Isaiah 40. The tenor recitative from in Handel’s Messiah is running through my head. “Comfort ye, Comfort ye my people, saith your God.”
The Israelites were in difficult situation. They were suffering in captivity, in exile far from home. They felt abandoned by a God who they thought could not or would not protect them from their captors. They murmured that the heathen Gods were more powerful than their God. It doesn’t get more discouraging than that.
God enters into their discouragement with the message of Isaiah. “Comfort ye, Comfort my people.” God explains what that means.
“Prepare ye the way of the LORD,
make straight in the desert a highway for our God. “
The people of Israel certainly felt God in a renewed way then and WE know that the ultimate comfort came many years later when Jesus came.
When Jesus talked about leaving the disciples in John 14:18 (KJV) He says, ‘I will not leave you comfortless.” And in John 15:26 (KJV) he says “When the comforter comes … he will testify of me.”
Sometimes when God seems absent, comfort means preparing the way for God to enter the situation. Or calling on the comfort of the Holy Spirit who will “testify of Jesus.” On further thought, that really isn’t best way to say it. Comfort means making visible the God who is already there.
If you have been thinking ahead of me, you have certainly remembered the comforting words of Psalms 23.
“Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me”
The Shepherd’s rod is used to ward off enemies and his staff to rescue the sheep for whom he cares from difficult and dangerous places.
Sometimes comfort means standing with people to ward off enemies and rescue them from dangerous places. Enemies and dangerous places like despair, blame, guilt and hopelessness.
Guideposts magazine recently included the comment.
“When the future is unknown, hope is as reasonable as despair!”
Walter Brueggeman the theologian in commenting on the meaning of comfort suggests that:
Comfort is a kind of transformative solidarity, not simply an offer of solace, but a powerful intervention that creates new possibilities.
It is that kind of comfort which restores people’s sense of dignity and worth. It makes it possible for them to contribute and use their gifts.
I remember while at Eastern Mennonite College we hosted a basketball team from the Woodrow Wilson Rehabilitation Center. They beat us soundly even though because of various kinds of injuries none of them could walk, let alone run. The game was played in wheel chairs specifically designed to give mobility on the basketball court. For them, the wheel chairs provided comfort that in a dramatic way transformed the situation and opened new possibilities.
That kind of comfort puts “wheels” under the goal of Landis Homes to honor and enrich lives.
Volunteers provide that kind of comfort all the time, the kind that transforms situations and people and that creates new possibilities.
Over the years I’ve come across many examples of this kind of comfort. You know many, many more. Here are a few.
- A resident who had lost some of his skill and ability was reflecting this kind of comfort when he said, “They treated me as if I were the person I used to be.” He needed to be reminded that he still was that person though some of the ways he expressed it were no longer possible.
- The persons who run console, serve as ushers, and do set-up for a visitation in the West Bethany Chapel provide comfort which allows the grief of death to be transformed into the rich remembrances of a life well lived and the joy of renewing and celebrating a life time of meaningful relationships.
- The board of directors provide this kind of comfort by investing their skills and wisdom in helping Landis Homes operate efficiently and plan strategically for the future.
- Transforming comfort affirms what a resident CAN do so they think less of what they cannot do.
- Comfort is a bus driver using his charm and sales ability to convince a resident who thought she could not go on a trip because of bathroom issues and her dependence on a wheel chair that she should take the last seat on the bus. She talked about that trip for weeks.
- Comfort is opening up the possibilities of e-mail and the internet to a resident and expanding their world.
- Comfort is bringing a dog to resident areas to release the love most of us have for animals and to make available the unqualified and spontaneous “love” of the dog to residents.
- Comfort is a visit every week which connects a resident with her home church by bringing a bulletin and sharing what is happening to her friends there.
- Comfort is running the train so residents can share the fun of watching it with their grandchildren.
- Comfort is arranging MCC projects so that residents at all levels of ability can serve the needs of the world.
- Comfort is caring for the peafowl and quail and the other exotic fowl to provide a destination for family walks.
- Comfort is all the work that makes the auction possible which in turn supports the Caring Fund which makes the experience of Landis Homes available for persons who could not otherwise afford to be here.
- Comfort is the Star Comforter ministry that keeps alive the memory of a resident and says to everyone who passes the door, “We care!”
- Comfort is building snow sculptures or shoveling snow or building a snow person residents can enjoy.
- Comfort is all the things you all do to transform situations and people and to create new possibilities for residents, possibilities that would not exist were it not for you.
In a very real way you are God’s agents to fulfill that ancient promise as articulated by Isaiah and Jeremiah.
“Comfort, Comfort my people!” (Isaiah 40:1). “I will give them comfort … declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 31: 13)
Comfort is a kind of transformative solidarity, not simply an offer of solace, but a powerful intervention that creates new possibilities.
Don’t underestimate your impact. Remember the Ark was built by volunteers.
Before John shared the above meditation, he counted down the top ten reasons why someone may wish to be a Landis Homes volunteer. Enjoy!
What would your top ten reasons be for volunteering?
Here with a bit of adaptation, are some suggested by a Volunteer Center in New York:
- Why would you want to work for money?
- Your children will be proud of you.
- Who knows, you might meet someone interesting?
- If you don’t go out each day and do something useful, you get old.
- Soap operas soon all sound alike.
- It’s hard to win a game of solitaire.
- You might need help yourself some day.
- Your family could use a break from you.
- When you stay home you get too many telemarketing calls.
- Once a year you get a free meal at Yoder’s restaurant.
April 11, 2011
Each Spring LeadingAge (formerly AAHSA) holds a Future of Aging Services Conference in Washington, DC. One of the the workshops held today was entitled “How Program Innovation and Technology Can FUEL Transformation” and focused on the Continuing Care Retirement Community at Home (CCRC@Home) model. Presenters were Denise Rabidoux, President & CEO of Evangelical Homes of Michigan, and Stephen Hopkins, Executive Director of LifeChoices/LifeChoice Solutions, a wholly owned subsidiary of EHM.
Currently, there are 43 million persons over age 65 in the United States. Of these, 39 million live in their homes. By 2030, there will be 71 million persons over age 65 in the US, and of these, 64 million will stay in their homes.
Rabidoux said the program originated by asking the question, “what if the client were the CEO?” What do individuals age 65 and over desire as they envision their future? The answer to this question emerged as a Continuing Care at Home model they called LifeChoices.
LifeChoices is one of seven CCRC@Home programs offered in the United States. It allows members to be cared for and receive services for life in their home. Rabidoux at one point described the program as “true healthcare reform”. She went on to say if technology and Lifestyle Coaches can help persons stay healthy in their homes and prevent serious, life-altering medical events, this can help reduce healthcare costs.
At the hub of the CCRC@Home model is a member advocate who serves as a lifestyle coach. Surrounding the hub are a variety of programs and services available to members, including technology solutions, wellness and education programs, home and community based services, hospitality and environmental services and assisted living and skilled nursing service.
The LifeChoices fee structure includes a one-time age-based membership fee and then flexible monthly fees and pricing options. Fees are deductible as a medical expense.
More information is available on Evangelical Homes of Michigan’s website at www.evangelicalhomes.org. At Landis Homes we are eager to continue to learn more about this model, and others that support individuals who choose to remain in their homes. If you have interest, I welcome your comments below!
March 21, 2011
by Larry Zook
March 21, 2011
Landis Homes’ story began 50 years ago in late 1961 when a group of ten founders prayed, looked, listened and learned before they embarked on their journey to create the community that has become Landis Homes.
As documented by A Grace Wenger in a book about Landis Homes’ first thirty years, earlier in 1961 Mrs Harry Shenk offered to donate land near Strasburg for a retirement community. Interest in her offer grew when Graybill Landis, a benefactor of Philhaven Hospital, announced plans to make a large contribution for a children’s home or retirement home at Philhaven. These plans led to consideration of creating a home for retired missionaries, similar to Schowalter Villa in Kansas. Orie O. Miller, who served on the Schowalter Villa Board was consulted, as was Eastern Mennonite Board of Missions, who appointed Ira Buckwalter to represent them on a planning committee. Eventually, Graybill Landis made a $100,000 contribution which helped with the start-up of the community at East Oregon Road.
In September 1961 the Bishop Board of Lancaster Mennonite Conference endorsed the project, and asked the Mission Board to proceed with planning. In November 1961 the Mission Board appointed a ten-member planning committee consisting of Levi Brubaker, Ira Buckwalter, Frank Enck, J. Mowery Frey, Charles Good, Clarence Harnish, Sanford High, Adam Martin, Orie Miller and Lester Wenger. Planning Committee Chair Frank Enck summarized the challenge by encouraging the group to “keep in mind our vision of creating a community rather than the traditional old people’s home facility.”
Since updating our strategic plan in 2008, the Landis Homes Board of Directors and staff have been keeping this strong emphasis on community building in mind as we plan for the future. Today, we continue to believe that good planning begins with good listening, including time spent in prayer, hearing the interests and concerns of others, and looking beyond the ordinary to what extraordinary opportunities God may be calling us to pursue.
In 2008 the Board and Management Team before updating the strategic plan entered into a phase of Appreciative Inquiry where board members and staff contacted 150 stakeholders in Landis Homes asking questions about areas of strength, opportunities for improvement, gaps in services to the Landis Homes constituency, and a question about personal approach to active adult years. This time of listening and active communication was extremely helpful and influenced the eventual plan which includes four focus areas:
* Retirement Community – keeping it strong and vital
* Affordable Living – including exploring new options of affordable living in Lancaster City and other areas
* Services at Home – enabling persons to remain at home as long as possible and to live in communities that they value
* Creative Partnerships – in support of above.
Listening and active communication is especially important during times of opportunity and change! For this reason, we’ve welcomed Larry Guengerich (pictured left) as new Director of Communications to the Landis Homes team. Larry’s many years of experience in working with organizations at important junctures of their growth will be helpful as we continue to pray, listen, learn and plan for the future.
We are exploring providing new housing options supported by in-home services, so that in the future, a vision shared at the end of Grace Wenger’s history of Landis Homes first thirty years, may be fulfilled. Wenger wrote, “As staff, board and residents discover new ways of sharing compassionate service, they may see, thirty years from now, the fulfillment of one man’s vision: ‘a Landis Homes Community without walls’,” which will reach beyond the existing campus at East Oregon Road.
We welcome you to join us in prayer, idea sharing and learning in this journey into an exciting future! I welcome your comments at any time by phone (717) 381-3561 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
February 5, 2011
At Landis Homes we value listening and engaging in conversation as we plan for the future. In 2008 the LH Board adopted a multi-year plan that includes maintaining a strong and vital retirement community, along with new areas of affordable living, services at home, and creative partnerships. We are now seeking a Director of Communications who will be an active participant in these relationship building efforts.
January 20, 2011
Landis Homes recently announced the appointment of R. Clair Sauder to its board of directors. Clair, who lives in Lancaster, is a private business owner who has owned and operated several retail home furnishing and commercial real estate enterprises.
He was involved with his family’s business, R.W. Sauder Eggs, early in life, and then served two years of Volunteer Service in Atlanta, GA, before graduating with an accounting degree from Elizabethtown College.
He is a Certified Public Accountant and worked for eight years with Laventhol and Horwath. He then worked for more than 25 years with a variety of home furnishing companies, including Good’s Furniture, Breuner’s Home Furnishings, and Thomasville Furniture. He is currently actively involved with C & D Enterprises.
Clair has significant past and current board experience with organizations such as Eastern Mennonite University, Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA), National Penn Investors Trust Company, and MMA/Everence Praxis Mutual Funds. Clair is the first board member appointed by the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) of the Mennonite Church. Landis Homes is a conference related ministry of the ACC.
He developed a closer relationship with Landis Homes in 1995 when his mother Marguerite Sauder, who continues to live on campus, became a resident.
“I am excited to be involved as a board member and look forward to working with other board members and staff as we work to together to carry out our vision and provide an intense level of caring and quality service into the future.”
Clair will be serving as the Treasurer, replacing Daryl E. Eshleman who served in that role since 2003. Other board members include Chair John W. Eby, Vice Chair Robert H. Leaman, Secretary Susan E. Godshall, Assistant Secretary Connie H. Stauffer, as well as J. Ken Brubaker, Lois M. Good, Dottie M. Martin, James R. Martin, Daniel D. Mast, Glen D. Moffett, Rachel Thomas Pellman, Alvin M. Weaver, and Dottie E. Yoder.
January 17, 2011
The Landis Homes Board in conjunction with it’s annual meeting each September invites stakeholders in our mission to a gathering, usually over dinner with a guest speaker. In 2008 the Board identified four strategic focus areas, and in each of the past three years we have focused on one of these strategic areas in this event.
The four strategic focus areas are:
* Retirement Community – keeping it strong and vital
* Affordable Living – including affordable housing options in Lancaster City and other areas, supported by in home services
* Services at Home – including services like Adult Day Services and Landis at Home, which serves both residents at the retirement community as well as others living within a 15 mile radius of Landis Homes
* Creative Partnership – in support of the above
In recent years our Annual Meetings have focused as follows:
* 2008 – Services at Home – John Michael Hall of the PA Department of Aging Office of Long-Term Living spoke about the variety of non-institutional options that he hoped aging services providers like Landis Homes will provide in the future, recognizing that one size doesn’t fit all. He encouraged us to provide a menu of options for persons to select from, including a retirement community but many other more affordable options as well.
* 2009 – Retirement Community – We chose to meet under a tent on the campus at Landis Homes for a Service of Blessing/Groundbreaking for the new Hybrid Homes and Cottages to be built on the South Campus. Richard and Ruth Weaver led a litany of blessing, and Richard spoke about the numerous ways that we could seek to honor God through being wise stewards of the earth and physical resources entrusted to us by use of sustainable design.
* 2010 – Affordable Living – Ron Sider, theologian, author and professor at Palmer School of Theology spoke about the mission that Christ calls us to in meeting the needs of those whose income and assets limit their retirement options.
We are pleased to be able to share with you Dr Sider’s comments that he shared with the group gathered. If you are moved by his comments, or any of the strategic focus areas, to wish to learn more, I welcome having conversation with you! Feel free to be in touch with me by phone or e-mail at (717) 381-3561 or email@example.com. I am also available on Facebook at www.facebook.com/larryzook or Twitter at www.twitter.com/larryzook.
Why spend resources on Mennonite retirement communities?
by Ron Sider
My wife Arbutus and I are glad to be with you tonight in part because both of us watched and deeply appreciated the excellent care that both our sets of parents received in Mennonite retirement homes in Ontario. In fact, we were so impressed that we decided that we too would like eventually to retire in a Mennonite retirement home.
In fact, we actually have our names on the waiting list here at Landis Homes, although I must confess we will probably stay closer to family and friends in Philadelphia.
For a few minutes this evening, I want to ask the question: Why have places like Landis Homes? Why spend the time and money? Why should board members and other volunteers donate thousands of hours each year? Why should individuals donate money?
By some calculations, it does not make sense. Taking good care of the elderly is costly. The older people get, the less productive they are. They do not create wealth for the society. In fact, the older people get the more disabled they become, the less they produce and the more they cost everyone.
If you only think about it in economic terms, Landis Homes does not make sense. And in fact some societies in the past and some people today think we should not “waste” money in this way.
But the bottom line for Landis Homes and all places like it is not economic efficiency. For you, Jesus Christ is the foundation and cornerstone. God and God’s Word is the solid rock on which this kind of wonderful place is built.
Biblical faith provides three very clear, powerful reasons for places like Landis Homes:
1) Every person, no matter how young or old, no matter how strong or weak, every person is made in the image of God and therefore has immeasurable worth.
2) God made us, not to be lone rangers, but persons made for community and therefore dependent on others.
3) The Bible everywhere and Jesus most clearly teaches us to care for the least able to care for themselves.
Briefly each of those three points:
1) Every person is made in God’s image and therefore has immeasurable worth. Gen. 1:27-28 says: “So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.”
This simple biblical truth has powerful implications for our world. Every single human being, just because they are persons made in the very image of God, have inestimable value and worth. That is not just true for the young, strong, and healthy. That is true of the unborn infant, the severely handicapped child and the elderly victim of Alzheimer’s disease. It is because of this foundational biblical truth about the nature of persons that we have places like Landis Homes.
It is important, however, to remember that not everybody in our world agrees with this. Some years ago, Princeton University appointed a new professor of Philosophy and Ethics by the name of Peter Singer. Peter Singer says persons are no more precious or valuable than animals or trees.
The worth of persons and animals depends on whether they are self-conscious and happy. It is better to kill a severely disabled one-week old baby than a happy cat. You can see where that kind of thinking leads for people with advanced Alzheimer’s. (In practice, Peter Singer did not practice what he teaches. When his mother became very ill, he spent large sums of money to care for her.)
Fortunately, not too many people today agree with Peter Singer. But a lot accept another idea about the value of persons that is very dangerous.
More and more people measure a person’s worth by how much money they make or have. The richer somebody is, the more important the person is. More and more people today want to let the market mechanism make ever decision. If it makes money, do it. If not, don’t. But if we applied that approach to the elderly, we would take wonderful care of the elderly rich and lousy care of the elderly poor – and when their money was all gone, we would stop caring for them completely. Tragically, to a significant degree, that is what this society does.
Biblical truth is very, very different. It is not the market; it is not a person’s wealth that determines how valuable that person is. It is the Creator of 120 billion galaxies who says: “I made this person, every person, in my very image. I sent my only Son to die on the cross so that whosoever believes on Him may be saved.” The Creator of the universe invites every single person to trust in Christ and live forever in the presence of the Risen Lord Jesus.
That means that every single person no matter how young or old, how strong or weak, how healthy or disabled, how rich or poor – every single person is precious to God and therefore to all who seek to obey God.
Listen to Psalm 8:3-9: “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor. You have given them dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under their feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas. O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!”
It is absolutely essential to hold firm to this solid rock of biblical teaching about how special every single person is.
Increasingly, in the future, there will be voices like Peter Singer who will say it costs too much to care for the very old or the very disabled. They will offer fancy excuses to justify our neglecting and quietly getting rid of such people. But biblical people will say no! – no matter what the cost or inconvenience. Until their last breath, until God calls each person to cross the river of death, we will gently, lovingly care for every single person made in God’s image. That is the foundation on which Landis Homes is built. That is the solid rock on which it will remain a place of peace, security and goodness for all who live here.
2) The second reason we have places like Landis Homes is that God made us for community and therefore we are dependent on each other.
I suppose God could have chosen to create each person as a grown adult with no need for anybody else to help them in order to be a happy healthy person. But that is not the way God decided to do it.
The triune God who lives forever as the community of Father, Son, and Spirit, made us for community. God made us so we need to have others around us – we are dependent on other people for our health and happiness. Adam was not satisfied, in spite of all the animals. He needed Eve. For many years, as babies grow into young children and slowly become adults. They are radically dependent on mom and dad.
I remember the stories about how my Mom and Dad carried me out to the barn in a little basket as they milked the cows, how they taught me to take my first steps. Every family has their own similar, wonderful memories of the thousands and thousands of ways that parents lovingly nurture their helpless babies toward adulthood.
But then, as the years roll along, the dependency is reversed. The older we get, the more we are dependent on others. When my mom and dad first moved to Fairview Mennonite Home in Ontario, all they needed was a nice apartment. Slowly, over the years, they needed their children and other people at Fairview Mennonite Home to do more and more things for them. Slowly dad and mom let us children make all the important decisions for them. God made us to be radically dependent on others all through our lives and especially at the beginning and the end. (Mike King puts this so well in his marvelous piece, “Will You Hold Me As I Held You?,” The Mennonite, February 3rd, 2009.)
Until a generation ago, we used to handle the dependence of our elders in a different way. My Grandpa and Grandma Cline lived in the other side of our farmhouse for a time. Arbutus’ grandparents lived in the small house across the lane. But our society has changed so much – children move all around the world. We need places like Landis Homes to do some of the many things that children used to do in an earlier society.
We need to be careful here. It is too easy for distant children to fail to do even what they can; make frequent telephone calls and hop on an airplane. The same things that take us away can bring us back fast if our priorities are right.
But I lived in Philadelphia and my dad and mom were 500 miles away. I could not care for them the way I would have 100 years ago. Thank God for the loving caregivers they had at the Fairview Mennonite Home.
Our mutual interdependence is reflected in Landis Homes in many other ways. Just think of the private and government funding of Landis Homes. Society says (at least to some degree) we care for everybody in the community. We reject every individualistic notion that says that everybody is alone and has to make it totally on their own. If we thought that, then we would not seek funds from younger people and government so Landis Homes can care for poor folk. But this society believes – at least to some degree – that we are all family and therefore people with more money rightly help those with less. And God says that is good, because I made people for community. I made you to care for each other.That’s why we have places like Landis Homes.
3) There is a third reason for places like Landis Homes. The Bible tells us that God has a special concern for the least of these.
Everywhere in the scripture, God shows his special concern for the poor, the weak, the needy, the widow, orphan, stranger – anybody who is weak and unable to care for themselves.
In fact, the Bible goes even deeper. It is not just that God’s people are to share God’s special concern for the needy. In some mysterious way that we will never fully understand, helping the needy is like helping God himself. Prov. 19:17 says, “Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord.” The Creator of 120 billion spinning galaxies hardly needs a loan. The cattle on a thousand hills belong to Him. But somehow, God so cares about the needy, God so indentifies with the weakest, poorest, most neglected, that when we minister to them, we are actually touching and serving God.
Jesus’ parable in Matt 25 says it most powerfully: ‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”
I have a friend in Philadelphia who used to spend several hours a week singing and playing his guitar with very poor, mentally handicapped fold at an old run-down building where society had dumped them. Dick believed what Jesus taught in Matt. 25. And he has told me how on some days as he gently helped these marginalized, disabled persons, he had a powerful sense that he was actually touching and serving Jesus Christ himself.
The very old and disabled, those no longer able to care for themselves at all, especially those folk who are also poor, are some of the least of these that Christ wants us to serve. No, more: somehow, they actually are Christ himself whom we can serve by serving them.
Jesus’ words should guide all of us who have any connection with Landis Homes – whether as donors, board, administrators, nurses, cooks – whatever. Jesus, the Creator of the universe, the babe of Bethlehem, the Savior on the cross, the Risen Lord, the Coming King – Jesus stands behind every persons you touch here every day – even, especially, the one where Alzheimer’s has largely completed its creeping devastation. Jesus stands behind the one where past hurt and degenerating mind create angry words and uncooperative action. Jesus stands behind the one whose failing body creates unpleasant messes to clean up. Jesus stands behind the one simply too poor to afford Landis Homes’ wonderful services – inviting you to explore carefully how you can expand the services of Landis Homes to poor people.
My friends, Jesus walks the halls of Landis Homes every day. He walks with a slow step and a crutch; he rides in a wheelchair pushed to meals by a gentle staff person; he lies in bed too weak to move. Wash and clothe him gently. Respect and care for him even though he is here incognito.
That’s why we have places like Landis Homes. It’s because the God who created every person in his image and made us for community lives among the least of these. I pray that he will give us the eyes to see him; the strength to serve him; and the love to touch him gently.
God bless you as you continue this wonderful ministry.
Ronald J. Sider
Professor of Theology, Holistic Ministry and Public Policy
Palmer Seminary and Eastern University