Why I Give
I thank my mom, Miriam Hoffman, for giving me a heart for older adults.
Mom was a geriatric nurse. When I was growing up, she would take me along with her to nursing homes to visit her patients. I would attend their Christmas parties and other festivities. As a child, I loved it. I would become their surrogate grandchild.
Fast forward a few decades later when mom was first admitted into Artman’s Rehab. Our roles were different – she became patient and I, her health advocate. She quickly settled in at Artman and made new friends there.
Mom would later move into personal care, then skilled care at Artman. She loved going to dinner, and especially loved the holidays. Artman would go all out with decorations, music and fabulous food. They made her feel special. She would look surprised and ask, “Is this for me?”
I particularly recall the St. Patrick’s Day celebration. She fancied the Irish music and proudly wore her green hat and necklace. I found that humorous because, despite her brogue accent, mom never told people that she was Irish. “No, I’m a British subject” mom would quip when asked, even though she was born and raised in Northern Ireland.
After mom died, I became a volunteer at Artman. I especially like helping at special events like the prom, miniature golf and holiday parties. Over the years I’ve developed a special bond with the residents. It brings me joy to hear their stories and meet their families.
When I turned 60 last October, my daughter Madison orchestrated a very special surprise party for me. She requested that, in lieu of gifts, friends and family could donate to Artman’s benevolent care fund in honor of my birthday.
Her thoughtful act touched me deeply. Madison knows how much I love Artman and my time there as a volunteer. She sees how much pleasure and joy it brings me.
The benevolent care fund is particularly near to my heart, as one of mom’s friends benefited from the fund. N, I’ll call her, was able to stay at Artman as a beloved and precious member of the Artman family.
With the benevolent care fund, Artman provides the most gracious gift – that of assurance and security. No one is ever asked to leave because they can no longer pay the monthly rate.
Through the years, my husband and I have personally supported Artman’s benevolent care fund. For us, this fund embodies the Biblical principle of caring for others with compassion and love.
In January 2011, I joined the Planned Giving committee at Liberty Lutheran. I have had family connections to Liberty for even longer, as my grandmother-in-law lived at Artman for a long time, and my Aunt has served on several board committees.
Having grown up in the Wissahickon School District, I was aware of the impact that Artman and Liberty’s other work had on the community. The respect and honor with which the community held Liberty always impressed me. My desire to be involved with an organization that impacts the community while progressively addressing its needs, like helping to responsibly manage the aging of the U.S. population, is what led me to Liberty.
What I found here is that Liberty is a family. I can see that by the devotion of Liberty’s employees, residents, management, volunteers, and board members. The people I have met during my time here are second to none – good, ethical, community-minded folks who, with a touch of humility, are focused on asking the difficult questions, getting things done, and improving lives.
Once involved with Liberty, it’s difficult to leave, because the issues are too important and the mission too pressing. From a board perspective, I love that Liberty constantly strives to be world-class. The management at Liberty is extremely impressive. Many for-profit companies aren’t run nearly as well as Liberty Lutheran.
Becoming a donor to Liberty was an easy decision. I believe in giving to organizations where I understand how the money is being spent, and that it’s being spent in productive ways. I do not know of any other organization to which my wife Stephanie and I have contributed where I can see a more direct impact of our gift. Liberty has also made a concerted effort to encourage donations of stock, which benefits both the donor and the organization. I was happy to use this form of planning as a vehicle for our donations – the Liberty team made it exceedingly easy to do so.
Last year, I had the opportunity to give in a different way by working in Eastwick in disaster response. That experience made a huge impression. I help to fight natural disasters for my day job in the renewable energy industry, so it is troubling, especially in the face of climate change, that there are increasingly so many on a year-to-year basis. Shortly after one happens, the news media and people in general forget about its impact on the lives of those affected. These disasters take YEARS to clean up. Without the help of volunteers, the situation would be worse. I was happy to contribute in a small way to help expedite a family’s recovery from Hurricane Isaias.
Peggie and Bob Keddie Jr.
Peggie and Bob Keddie Jr.
My connection with Liberty Lutheran first began in the early 2000s when the Advancement Department was running a capital giving campaign at Paul’s Run. My mother was a resident at Paul’s Run for quite some time. She first moved into Independent Living, and then transitioned through each level of care until she passed. Having quite a connection to the community, I gave over the course of a three year period, and from there I was invited to join Liberty’s Board of Directors. I guess they figured I was a good guy.
My wife, Peggie, and I truly believe in giving back. We’ve had a good life and we believe in the work that Liberty Lutheran does and enjoy supporting their family of services. Worldwide causes are important, but we especially enjoy giving back to an organization that is local like Liberty because you can see the results happening in each community. You can see the impact that each dollar makes.
My family was always a giving family. My parents were products of the Great Depression and they always gave 10 percent of their money to charity. It was their priority to give. They believed in their faith and were members of a Presbyterian Church, which was influential to me as I grew up. My dad felt that when he was giving, he was cultivating seeds of growth. He thought that if no one gave, nothing would happen. That philosophy of giving carried on throughout my life.
Giving was particularly relevant throughout my career when I worked for Beneficial Bank. They were very involved with community affairs and they supported community service efforts. I, along with other senior officers, were encouraged to take on that giving mentality. So, I served on several Boards, including Liberty Lutheran’s, and I’ve always enjoyed taking on those fundraising efforts.
I think it’s in my blood to try and raise funds for the organizations I care about, and I think it stems back to my parents. It has been incredible for me to see Liberty Lutheran persevere through this pandemic and it really speaks to the organization’s leadership. I think that when you’re a caregiver at heart, you embody that motivational spirit and there’s a true desire there to help people. It’s unbelievable and I just admire the work that Liberty continues to do for the people they serve.
I’ve been involved in disaster response work since 2004 and started as a volunteer on the Gulf Coast in Mobile, Alabama following Hurricane Ivan. Throughout the years I have served in a variety of roles from construction to long-term recovery group coordination. I’ve also served with two Lutheran Social Service agencies before transitioning into the role of Program Director for the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America’s (ELCA) Lutheran Disaster Response-US (LDR-US) program, which is where I am now.
Our program engages a national network of Lutheran synods as well as Lutheran social service organizations and external partners that respond to the needs of communities impacted by disasters. We understand that all disasters are local and our focus is to empower communities to engage and recover. We support organizations like Liberty Lutheran and Lutheran Disaster Response- Eastern Pennsylvania (LDR-EPA) because we know that they are the ones on the ground who are closest to the needs of each community.
Everything we do is survivor-centric. When we support LDR-EPA we ensure that the people impacted by disasters can get the assistance that they need, and we can’t do that without funding. The majority of funding that we receive comes from direct contributions. A lot of those donations are 20 or 50 dollars. All of those donations really do make a difference and we would not be able to support organizations like LDR-EPA without them.
LDR’s impact is crucial for so many communities impacted by disasters as governmental assistance will largely not be sufficient to meet all of their needs. This is especially the case for disasters that are small and highly localized, the ones that aren’t getting media attention. That’s where the impact of fundraising really helps to ensure those communities are not overlooked. A great example of this is the Eastwick neighborhood of Philadelphia, where LDR-EPA is working actively.
This is a historically underserved community and disastrous weather is piled onto their already existing challenges. The exciting part is when an organization like LDR-EPA works with community members to address some of their larger issues and the root causes of their vulnerability. LDR-EPA can help them build resilience to make their neighborhood stronger. I am excited to support the work that LDR-EPA is doing and look forward to additional partnerships in the future.
My journey with Liberty Lutheran started around 15 years ago under a trying circumstance. The church which I attend had fallen victim to a fire, and I was asked to head up the reconstruction.
While that was going on another member of the congregation, who was also on the board of the Mary J. Drexel Home, approached me to discuss some needed updates to their building. While this wasn’t my professional background, I found the experience with my congregation rewarding, and knew that I could take this opportunity to continue to make a positive impact as a board member.
I was familiar with the Mary J. Drexel Home, which is now The Hearth at Drexel, as some members of our church had moved into the community. It had always enjoyed a reputation as a place where older adults could receive compassionate care and excellent service. This was known throughout the area, and the board saw opportunities where we could grow and maximize our potential by affiliating with a larger organization.
Eventually, the community joined with Liberty Lutheran. The decision to become a part of the family of services was made quickly and with confidence that we were joining a strong, professional, caring organization that was rooted in the philosophy of service to others.
When you see the people Liberty serves, you realize that the organization truly lives out its mission to faithfully accompany individuals and families. Residents aren’t just sitting around, covered with blankets to keep warm. They are engaged and active. The care that is offered is second to none.
For its part, the West Philadelphia Senior Community Center plays an integral role in the health and wellbeing of its members, while serving as a resource for the area around it as a whole. Liberty’s contributions can also be seen within ministry thanks to the contributions from Lutheran Congregational Services, while Lutheran Disaster Response continues to serve as a source of hope and recovery for many.
Just as the Mary J. Drexel Home enjoyed a positive reputation in the area around it, the same is true for all of the affiliates within Liberty’s family of service. This is all thanks to the commitment that is extended by the incredible staff who make up Liberty Lutheran from the leadership to those who are on the front line.
While compassionate care and the highest level of service were always hallmarks that make our family of services distinct, by acting quickly at the start of the coronavirus pandemic Liberty has served as an example for others to follow. Our staff navigated ever-changing regulations and guidance, while keeping families and residents informed.
There are a variety of ways to give, whether it’s monetary or it’s your time. I give to Liberty Lutheran because I can trust that they meet the needs of the people they serve. You can trust that when Liberty is involved with something, that it will be done correctly and effectively. What’s more, when Liberty is involved in something, they do so with compassion and with the mission to empower others.
We can always contribute to the success of those around us. When we dedicate ourselves to something that creates a better situation for others, we create a more promising future.
Veronica Suber, WPCSS member and donor
Veronica Suber, WPCSS member and donor
The West Philadelphia Senior Community Center (WPSCC) provides a vibrant environment for older adults to engage in activities that stimulate the mind, body, and spirit. When I first went to the Center, I could feel the warmth extended through the friendships that the members shared. The virus hit everyone hard in one way or another. Iwasn’t traveling as much and staying home. With a
little extra to give, I knew that I wanted to make sure the Center could fulfill its mission to help older adults throughout West Philly. In additionto wonderful activities, the Center is a sourceof hope for those who struggle under tryingcircumstances. It was important for me to make sure their mission was sustained. Thanks to the Center, seniors in West Philadelphia have access to resources, friendship, and hope.”
The Elias Family
The Elias Family
Our mother had been living in a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) for 10 years when she developed dementia. We found that the CCRC was not able to provide the activities and social opportunities that she needed. Despite our best efforts she was becoming more and more withdrawn. Several professionals we consulted recommended a move to a memory care unit and when we visited the unit at The Hearth, we knew that this was a place where our mother could be happy and thrive. And indeed, she did. She blossomed with the care and attention of the wonderful Hearth staff.But shortly after she moved to The Hearth COVID-19 became a part of our lives. We saw the many precautions that The Hearth was taking to keep the residents and staff safe and we knew how frightened everyone was. Our parents had taught us that in times like these everyone had to pitch in and help and a donation to the COVID-19 Response Fund seemed like the best way to help.
Norm Barbieri, chair of The Friends of Paul’s Run
The board of The Friends of Paul’s Run appreciates all the different services being provided to the community at no additional expense during the COVID-19 pandemic. We felt that it was our responsibility to financially support these services, which have been so important for the safety of the community. On a personal level, Paul’s Run provides wonderful care to residents. I saw that in how they treated my mother as a resident. Now as a volunteer at the community, I am proud to be a part of that promise of safety, care, and empowerment. As you hear throughout the community, Paul’s Run is simply the best!”
“Liberty Lutheran has made positive changes here at The Village.” Keiko shares. “They have moved The Village in the right direction with all the new spaces, new atmosphere, and a new attitude.”
One thing that brings joy to Dr. Keiko Miwa Ross is her pretty gardens at The Village at Penn State. For over 16 years she has landscaped, built and cared for them continuously. Her Japanese culture inspires her selection of plants and features that she uses in her gardens.
The depth and rich history of Keiko’s life and her legacy go far beyond her garden. She was born in Hyogo, Japan, where her father was a college professor. In 1953 the old Japanese higher education system was drastically changed to model the American system, and the college education was opened to Japanese women for the first time in the nation’s history. Under this new college system, Keiko became one of the first female college students in Japan.
After attending National Kobe University in Japan for two years, she received a scholarship to study at Eastern Washington State University in Cheney, Washington, USA. There she enrolled as a junior student, lived one year at the
college dormitory, and another year she lived with an American family in Spokane, Washington. It was also there that she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Education degree in two years with honors from Eastern Washington State University.
After graduation, she went back to Japan, began to teach at a Japanese college, and lived in Nishinomiya City. When Nishinomiya and Spokane wanted to become sister cities, Keiko contributed a great deal for this sister city program. The mayor of Spokane consequently awarded her honorary citizenship
of Spokane, and the Washington Water Company awarded her a scholarship to do her graduate studies in the USA. So, Keiko got her Master of Education degree from Eastern Washington State University in one year, and Doctor of Education
degree from Washington State University in Pullman, Washington in two years.
In 1974, the American Embassy in Japan requested Keiko’s help for a visit by then President Gerald Ford. “Back then, there were no computers, no cell phones,” she points out. “They had to set up an entire floor of the largest hotel in Japan as the communications center to connect President Ford from wherever he
visited in Japan to the people he needed to be in touch with in the USA in case of an international critical emergency. It was quite an operation.” When President
Ford left Japan, he awarded Keiko the Presidential Certificate of Appreciation.
Keiko met her husband, Samuel Thomas Ross, at Expo ’70, the world’s fair in Osaka, Japan. He was the director of a US-Japan joint venture company in Japan. Eventually, they moved to New York City. When Samuel, a graduate of
Penn State University, was ready to retire, the couple decided to live in
State College. They moved to The Village at Penn State in 2003, the first year when The Village at Penn State was built.
A Second Home
“We all quickly learned that there many things for them to do. They wouldn’t get bored – there was no time for it.”
Having come to the US after World War II from a part of Germany that is now in Poland, my mother, Brigitte, and my father, Paul, lived the American dream, raising a family and building a life together.
My father had several jobs until the early 1960s when he received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, which provided him with the opportunity to earn the credentials he needed to become a German teacher. For her part, my mother, who had taught kindergarten in Germany, was convinced by her minister here to become a first-grade teacher – a job she held until the mid-1980s.
When Mother and Daddy retired, they moved from Levittown to Northeast Philadelphia, where they lived in a home they loved until they moved into Paul’s Run in 1999. Although my family lives in Texas, over the years we were able to visit and stay in an apartment at the community and see just how wonderful everything was.
When they first moved in, they were presented with many opportunities. We all quickly learned that there many things for them to do. They wouldn’t get bored – there was no time for it. Although Daddy had trouble moving around, he had plenty of friends to interact with and was always enjoying something. At the time, Paul’s Run had a greenhouse. My mother was a passionate gardener and really enjoyed having the opportunity to continue putting her green thumb to use.
What stood out to me was just how much warmth the community and its staff exuded. Whether it was housekeeping and maintenance helping Mother and Daddy with their apartment, or the interactions they had with the dining staff while enjoying their meals, everyone went out of their way. No one simply did their job – everyone took the time to show that they cared for each resident.
When my father passed away in 2003, my mother received a lot of support from the staff and her neighbors. Although losing my father was hard, my mother found opportunities to become even more involved at Paul’s Run. She helped around the chapel, arranging flowers and preparing communion, while at the same time she became involved with the welcoming committee. She knew many people and made many friends.
Paul’s Run became a second home for me. I would visit from Texas initially three or four times a year and finally once a month and was always welcomed by the staff with open arms.
After my mother passed, I received a lot of support and help from the staff at Paul’s Run. I consider myself fortunate to have experienced the same generous spirit that was extended to my parents.
I give to Paul’s Run because I think they are always looking for opportunities to reach higher, and because of the level of care and appreciation they extend to their residents. Having other older adults in my family, and having looked at retirement communities in Texas, for me, there isn’t anything that compares to Paul’s Run.
Building a Legacy
“Given the situation we found ourselves in, we set our eyes upon the benevolent care program, which has since made an impact for so many individuals and families.”
My connection to Liberty Lutheran began more than thirty years ago when I was approached by a fellow member of my church to join the board of Artman. It was a distinct time in the community’s history, long before Liberty was even an idea. Faced with uncertainty, we knew that we needed to head in a different direction to fulfill Artman’s legacy as a leading provider of compassionate care.
When we ultimately decided to change the leadership, we were lucky to find Luanne Fisher, now Liberty’s President and CEO, whose vision and expertise match perfectly with what we were looking for. Given the situation we found ourselves in, we set our eyes upon the benevolent care program, which has since made an impact for so many individuals and families.
Over time I’ve maintained my connection with Artman and Liberty, not just having served on boards for our communities and services, but also having my mother as a resident at Artman.
I was very fortunate to have a great relationship with my mother. Even when I was an adult, we shared a house for many years. When she became older, my role as her daughter was joined with a new role as a caregiver.
Eventually, when she was 93, I came to the realization that she needed more than I could provide alone. I knew that Artman was the best place for her.
When I would visit, I could see that she was content and in a place that looked after her physical, mental, and social wellbeing. Having seen that first-hand, I am even more fulfilled by knowing that Liberty exists and extends that standard of care to all its communities.
As a faith-based organization with Lutheran roots, Liberty Lutheran follows a call to be charitable. Benevolent care remains a key.
Within the senior care industry, there is no requirement for benevolent care, which is what makes Liberty’s mission to carry a charitable message in our hearts so important.
For some older adults, aging comes with the unfortunate instance of outliving their resources. This causes uncertainty, anxiety, and fear. The prospect of having to leave their community because they can longer make payments is a very real threat.
I give to Liberty Lutheran because I know that this does not apply within their communities. Residents enjoy the safety and security of knowing they can remain in their homes.
This is a legacy that my husband and I are proud to support as donors and as volunteers.
We have seen the impact that Liberty Lutheran makes as an organization, and how Liberty’s philosophy to fulfill a legacy of compassionate care and empowerment is lived out in the people who work within the organization.
I give to sustain that legacy, which is emboldened by a commitment to ensure that those facing uncertainties receive relief in the knowledge that they are cared for.
Pat & Frank Ducato
Home Sweet Home
“We are so impressed with everything that Liberty does down to every last detail,” Frank says.
Since moving in 2 ½ years ago, Pat and Frank Ducato have discovered firsthand why The Village at Penn State’s motto is “Live like a senior, feel like a freshman.” From the first time they visited, it felt like home. As avid sports fans, and with Frank’s ties to the university as an alumnus, they take full advantage of the Penn State University connection.
Pat and Frank met through a friend of Frank’s. Pat was in nursing school and Frank was working in marketing. In Pat’s words, “The hospital where I was a student received an invitation from the local army base. They were hosting a dance and invited us to attend. The soldiers wanted to meet some girls, and we wanted to meet some guys.”
“At the dance, I met a soldier who kept talking about his friend, a ‘swinging bachelor’ with an apartment. One snowy night, this soldier invited my friends and me to a party at his friend’s apartment. Frank was the ‘swinging bachelor.’”
Nine months later Pat and Frank were engaged, and they traveled to Pittsburgh to visit Frank’s parents. Upon their return, Frank discovered a letter in his mailbox that said “Greetings.” He was drafted during the Berlin crisis of 1961. Following Pat’s graduation and during the Cuban crisis, they were married on a three day pass.
After the wedding, they moved to Fayetteville, NC where Frank was stationed. Pat found a nursing job at the local hospital. Frank would later take a marketing job in Michigan where they raised their son and retired on a lake.
Having witnessed the tremendous benefits of a continuing care retirement community with Frank’s father, there was never any question in their mind that they would eventually move into a community that could provide the best retirement possible. Originally, Pat and Frank looked at communities in North Carolina, which still holds a special place in their hearts. However, one visit to The Village convinced them it was the right place.
“We are so impressed with everything that Liberty does down to every last detail,” Frank says. “Liberty’s choices of elegant design and features for the new community room and other spaces are just stunning.” Frank and Pat quickly signed on to the Pride of Our Life Campaign and made their first gift.
From Pat and Frank’s apartment, you see the beautifully landscaped Palmer Park off their patio with its putting green and other outdoor features. When construction began on the park, Frank pondered how nice it would be to have a water feature. “I figured if I was going to ask for something, I should be willing to pay for it,” Frank explains.
Now thanks to their generous support through multiple gifts, Palmer Park has been enhanced with the addition of a fountain, which will serve to commemorate their support for a long time to come. Being a savvy businessman, Frank also knows that special touches like Palmer Park help with marketing.
“This is our home,” Pat adds. “We’ve always lived in a nice house that we took pride in. We want to do the same at The Village by contributing to the beauty and maintenance of what we have here.”
Meet David Stettler
“This experience left a lasting impression on me. It was a demonstration of the kind of caring support my parents would receive on a daily basis. They were both quickly won over by everything and everyone.”
For the past several years, I have been very fortunate to serve on Liberty Lutheran’s board and on several of its committees. My involvement with Liberty as a donor is based on my first-hand experience, particularly with Artman and Liberty Hospice.
As my parents entered their later years, it became clear that their needs required an increased amount of support. They were always very independent, but with my mother’s declining health and my father suffering a knee injury, we began to look for a community that could meet their needs and provide the comforts of home.
The initial visit to Artman with my parents was unique. It demonstrated the extent to which compassion and care are a hallmark of Liberty’s family of services.
As we traveled to the community, my mother experienced a minor seizure. After a few minutes she recovered and my parents insisted we continue the journey.
When we arrived we explained what happened. Although she wasn’t a resident, the caregivers immediately met and examined her to see if there were any obvious signs of distress that needed to be addressed.
This experience left a lasting impression on me. It was a demonstration of the kind of caring support my parents would receive on a daily basis. They were both quickly won over by everything and everyone.
The care my parents received was a blessing. Following my mother’s passing, my father received a tremendous amount of support. He really enjoyed being at Artman. When I think back, I can’t help smiling at some of my father’s experiences.
One of his favorite activities was bingo. At Artman the residents played for a quarter during each game. He must have been very good or very lucky, because there would be times I’d visit him or pick him up and he would have a large plastic bag full of quarters. He’d always have a smile on his face and tell me to pass the bag along to my daughter for the college laundry.
There was always plenty for Dad to do in the community and during their community outings. To this day I still have pictures of him during a trip to the shore, and another of him feeding a baby bird. These photos were taken for family members by Artman’s staff, which to me demonstrates the care and consideration they extend to everyone.
Later, during his final days, Dad was placed on hospice. Staff and residents alike would stream in to visit him. You could tell they cared. Most importantly, the comfort and dignity he received from Liberty Hospice was moving.
I give to Liberty because I know the impact its family of services makes – not just for residents, clients, and members, but for the families who place their trust in our communities.
“I try to take advantage of opportunities that come up. There are some that I do regularly,” Caroline says. “I usually work in the General Store every Wednesday, and I run the jewelry sale at the Annual Bazaar.”
Caroline Willms, a resident of Paul’s Run for 14 years, has lived a life of serving and giving to others. From teaching 3rd, 4th and 5th graders in Northeast Philadelphia, to volunteering with her church and the Philadelphia Zoo, she has inspired others to learn and grow.
As an active member of her church, Caroline has held every lay position except Treasurer, sang in the choir and played bells. She makes quilts for those in need and supports Feast of Justice, the second largest food bank in Philadelphia.
It’s no surprise that today she’s a driving force behind many activities and initiatives at Paul’s Run.
Caroline’s giving spirit is rooted in her faith and the example set by her parents. Having grown up during the Great Depression, she remembers that even when her father lost his job they never stopped tithing. Caroline’s parents even gave her five cents to contribute during Sunday school.
“We attended Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Mayfair. The Depression was hard on people in the community, but it taught me to rely on my faith and that we should be generous in our support for one another,” Caroline shares. “Christ gave his life for us; there’s nothing we can give by comparison. Giving and sharing with others is a good start.”
From 2007 – 2016, Caroline was president of The Friends of Paul’s Run which helps enhance community life for all residents. Now, as president of the Paul’s Run Resident Council, Caroline continues to be one of the most active members of the community.
“I try to take advantage of opportunities that come up. There are some that I do regularly,” Caroline says. “I usually work in the General Store every Wednesday, and I run the jewelry sale at the Annual Bazaar.”
Never missing an opportunity to give back, Caroline has named Paul’s Run in her will and as one of the beneficiaries of her annuities. “Near and dear to my heart is the Paul’s Run Fellowship Fund, which helps residents who have exhausted their resources. I find purpose and meaning in supporting this fund, knowing that my good fortune in life will help a neighbor in need.”
John and Jan MacChesney
The Village at Penn State
“When we first visited The Village we were considering a move to Princeton. We quickly changed our minds because of The Village’s beautiful cottages, and the wonderful reception we received.”
John and Jan MacChesney, residents of The Village at Penn State since 2014, have made a tremendous impact on their community. Thanks to their kind generosity, The Village’s Pride of Our Life campaign took an important step forward with the couple’s generous commitment through an estate gift.
“The staff at The Village have been very good to us. We’ve made many great friends here, and we’re pleased to be able to leave a legacy that ensures The Village will have a special space in a new community room that can accommodate everyone here,” John said. “We see the community room as a place for meaningful social times, bonding stronger friendships amongst all the residents. With a larger space for activities and events, residents will have access to boundless entertainment and fun.”
Having earned a PhD in Geochemistry from Penn State University in 1959, John worked for Bell Labs in New Jersey, where the couple also owned a Christmas tree farm. Jan taught elementary school for 31 years. Throughout their marriage John and Jan traveled through Europe, for business and leisure, where they enjoyed meeting new people and experiencing new cultures. With each trip they were thrilled by warm welcomes, which were replicated on their first visit to The Village.
“When we first visited The Village we were considering a move to Princeton. We quickly changed our minds because of The Village’s beautiful cottages, and the wonderful reception we received. We were thrilled to learn about the many great activities and active lifestyle The Village offers,” Jan shared.
Together, John and Jan continue to enjoy activities they pursued prior to their retirement, such as exercise classes, attending lectures, playing bridge, and attending cocktail parties and The Villages’ Romeo and Juliet lunches. The pair also appreciates The Village’s proximity to State College’s vibrant downtown.
“We enjoyed the four years we spent in State College, when John was earning his PhD. We remember those times fondly. The town has become even more spectacular, and The Village has a strong connection with the surrounding area. It’s great to be a part of that,” Jan added.
The Pride of Our Life campaign raised funds for The Village to support a new Personal Care building, a community room and a connector hallway to bridge the main residence to its Atrium for healthcare residence, a new grand entryway, and new garden features. John and Jan’s estate pledge, along with many contributions from other residents, brings the campaign total to $3 million. Construction of the new community room is expected to be completed by the spring of 2018.
Meet Betty Scott and Chick King
The Village at Penn State
“Together Chick and Betty have enjoyed making the most out of life at The Village. When asked what makes The Village special, Chick and Betty say that they feel it’s a warm, beautiful, caring home with a huge, loving family of friends.”
In 2010, Chick and Nancy, his wife of 50 years, were considering retirement communities in the Philadelphia area. The Village at Penn State wasn’t even on their radar until a friend encouraged them to tour the community.
When they visited, Chick and Nancy were impressed that the cottages, amenities and location offered all they would want. But what sealed the deal for them was dinner with residents Hope and Ron Coder. “I’ll bet Ron convinced more people to come to The Village than anyone else,” jokes Chick.
Several months later, Chick and Nancy made The Village their home and became active in resident life. They enjoyed sixteen months at The Village before Nancy passed away. Chick found a great deal of support and comfort from his new friends at The Village.
He also found support from a lifetime friend, Betty Scott. Five years before, Betty had lost her husband, Russ, a fraternity brother of Chick’s from their days as college students at Penn State. The two couples had spent time together over the years, taking trips, skiing and hiking.
Though Chick and Betty had already known each other for more than 50 years, they’ve only been partners since 2012. It was at that time that Chick invited Betty to join him at a Penn State Football game and the rest is history!
Together Chick and Betty have enjoyed making the most out of life at The Village. When asked what makes The Village special, Chick and Betty say that they feel it’s a warm, beautiful, caring home with a huge, loving family of friends.
Spending time with friends is important to them. Cocktails in the Cub Lounge and dining in the main dining room are a highlight of every day. Activities and events provide boundless entertainment and fun they share with each other and with friends.
Chick and Betty cherish their life at The Village and are devoted to its continued improvement. “Like many residents, we were thrilled to learn that Liberty was committed to adding new spaces that would enhance community life. What was particularly exciting was that Liberty listened to residents and prioritized projects based on what mattered most to us.”
Chick and Betty also point out that Liberty not only listened, they also invited residents to participate in planning, such as collaborating with landscapers to choose plants and trees indigenous to the area, and meeting with designers to select finishes and furnishings for the new construction.
The dynamic new spaces being added to The Village have inspired Chick and Betty to invest in this very special place they live. “We have made a home together at The Village, and our gift to support the new community room will deepen fellowship and enrichment opportunities for everyone. The people make The Village a wonderful home because it reflects the collective personalities of everyone here.”
Jim and Mary Jane Brenneman
“Liberty Lutheran is blessed to have Jim and Mary Jane Brenneman as generous and long-time friends. Both grew up in families that nurtured a spirit of giving—whether through service or philanthropy.”
“Mom and Dad certainly didn’t have an overabundance of free time or resources when I was young, but I regularly heard them say how blessed their lives had been and how important it was to give back to God through their church and to worthy organizations whose mission it is to improve the quality of life for others,” lovingly remembers Jim.
As residents of Ambler for 46 years, Jim and Mary Jane have actively sought out and supported various Lutheran charities in the area. Early on as Ambler residents, Artman was definitely on their radar because many of their friends from Christ’s Lutheran Church in Oreland, PA were engaged with Artman in some way—either through family who lived there or through volunteer service.
Yet, it was a serendipitous twist of events between Jim and a long-lost childhood friend that inspired the Brennemans to become deeply involved in Artman and Liberty Lutheran both as donors and volunteers.
That friend, Russell (Russ) Long, was someone who grew up in the same York, PA Lutheran church as Jim. Together the two attended vacation bible school and enjoyed playing ball. Yet, as is the case with many people, the boys lost touch as they grew older. Jim entered the telecommunications industry and Russ became a Lutheran pastor—although Jim never stopped wondering in what state and synod his friend had ultimately settled.
One day in the mid-1990s Jim found his answer when he learned that Russ was actually nearby and at that time serving as Director of Development for Liberty’s Artman senior living community. Not only did the two men joyfully re-connect, but Russ offered Jim and Mary Jane the opportunity to more intimately learn about Artman’s many critical services and the way they enrich life for elders.
Ever since that happy re-acquaintance, Jim and Mary Jane have continued to support Artman and Liberty Lutheran in so many thoughtful and generous ways—from Mary Jane offering companionship to an Artman resident, to Jim volunteering his talents to serve on several Liberty Lutheran committees. Together as a couple they have established long-term gifts to help Artman sustain its century-long tradition of compassionate care and service for older adults.
“We saw very early on in our lives the value of nonprofit organizations and have understood how they are dependent upon the generous giving of other people to be able to succeed. Thus, we find it very meaningful to participate in annual giving, capital campaigns, and planned giving in order to support the necessary, wonderful services that Liberty provides,” says Jim.
It has been very fulfilling for Jim and Mary Jane to actually see the differences they’ve been able to make—especially for those individuals who need rehabilitative care. The couple has made a very generous contribution to support the construction of Artman’s new short-term rehabilitation facility.
Together with the kind and generous caring communities of people who support the Liberty Lutheran family of services, Mary Jane and Jim cherish the opportunity to help foster vital initiatives that help older adults age successfully, maintain health, nurture inspiration, build resiliency, and renew hope. “Every gift—whether time, skills, or financial resources—and whatever the size—adds cumulative value and makes a difference,” says Jim.