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Access to the Great Outdoors

by Ann Mead Ash
originally published in Town Lively, Dec. 28, 2016

Landis Homes Modifies Leaman Woods


Leaman Woods, an area of the Landis Homes campus, 1001 E. Oregon Road, Lititz, has long been left in a natural state. In 2010, the area was named for George Leaman, the first administrator of Landis Homes, and his wife, Grace, who exhibited a love and respect for creation.

On Nov. 15, 200 residents, team members, family members, and administrators gathered at the entrance to the woods to mark a change in the area spurred by the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Landis Homes in 2014. The group dedicated, blessed, and opened a new paved pathway to make the area more accessible to all, along with a gazebo for use by residents and their families and guests.

Previously, the soft mulch paths through the woods made it difficult for residents and guests using mobility devices to navigate the woods. “There was a desire by some to make at least part of the area more accessible to all persons, including those who use wheelchairs, walkers, or motorized devices,” said Deb Laws-Landis, director of community relations. “The decision was made by many residents, leadership, and others to pave at least a portion of the woods and add a gazebo that could be used as a gathering place in this natural area.”

During the home’s 50th anniversary celebration, a fundraiser was established to raise $50,000 with the goal of creating a pervious paved path through the woods and adding a large gazebo. “The effort raised $70,500,” said Laws-Landis, who noted that donations came from several entities, including the Landis Homes Auxiliary chicken barbecue, which contributed $15,000.

Part of the fundraising effort involved a luminaria walk that would light a luminaria in memory of a loved one in return for each gift of a specific amount. The walk was held on Nov. 6, 2014, with more than 1,000 luminarias lighting the campus. “This was one of the last events of the 50th anniversary year, and it was one of the best,” said Laws-Landis. The effort raised $33,000 toward the funds needed to pave the path and build the gazebo.

At the dedication, Landis Homes president and CEO Larry Zook recalled the luminaria event. “I still can picture the beautiful sight of all those luminarias lining the paths around the ponds,” he said. “That evening and now … it continues to be a beautiful example of working together.”

In 2016, work began on seven new cottages, and the new path was created in conjunction with that construction project. Landis Homes vice president of planning and marketing Linford Good oversaw construction. At the dedication, Good discussed the importance of trees in reducing pollution. “Trees clean the air and water. Trees and woods reduce storm water runoff by capturing and storing rainfall in the canopy,” he said.

Organizers of the effort to create better access to the woods cited the benefits of spending time in a natural environment as one reason to build the path. They noted that connection to nature is believed to restore spiritual well-being. “It is widely accepted (that) a walk in the woods can be great for boosting one’s mood. Many nature enthusiasts say it can do much more – including strengthen immunity, lower blood pressure, increase ability to focus, and ultimately lower health care costs if done regularly,” Good said.

Landis Homes opened in February 1964. The Leamans lived on the property with the residents, and Grace served as matron. The Leamans continued in that role until December 1977.

Landis Homes is a not-for-profit organization that serves aging adults and their families with the goal of honoring and enriching lives and the community by exhibiting the love of Christ. Readers who would like to learn more about Landis Homes may visit https://www.landishomes.org.

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