It’s hard to believe, but this month marks the third anniversary of the rebranding campaign and broadening of the brand from Messiah Village to Messiah Lifeways. A lot has changed, but certain things remain the same. Overall I believe we have done a remarkable job in enlightening and educating others why this change occurred back in February 2012. So let’s look back a bit, examine the now and look toward the future.
The name wasn’t broken, so why did we fix it?
Nearly a year after the rebranding I wrote an article addressing the name change. It was partly due to some dismay and confusion by a few critics as to why we would do such a thing. Here is an excerpt from that article…
“The name Messiah Village wasn’t broken. It was and still is a highly recognized and well respected brand. However, despite not being broken, it did have some flaws. It no longer fully represented who we are and what we do…”
I also stated, “during this transition period we expected there would be growing pains and much of the terminology changes… would take some getting used to.”
I went on to remind some of the detractors that this was not the first time we had changed our name; it was actually the third! Change and evolution are a part of our history and culture, and throughout our existence we have continually challenged ourselves to improve, expand, and advance the services we provide to older adults. Founded in 1896 by the Brethren-in-Christ Church, we were originally known as the Messiah Rescue and Benevolent Home, which begot the Messiah Home in 1932, which then became Messiah Village in the late 1970’s. This name change occurred after moving from Paxton Street in Harrisburg to the current location on Mt. Allen Drive. However, there was one main difference with this third variation compared to the first two. The name Messiah Village was not eliminated. And though it was no longer the parent or overarching brand, it became one element of the Messiah Lifeways rebrand, a very vital element.
This still doesn’t quite answer the question “why?” So let’s delve a little further. Since 1896, the majority of people we served had either lived in the “home” or in the “village.” However, after moving to Mt. Allen Drive our focus and philosophy began to progress. We continually adapted with the times and, despite encouraging older adults to become residents here, we knew that people desired other alternatives like aging in place or in the community. Nowadays, you’ll hear the term aging in place quite a lot, but it’s something that we embraced as far back as 1984 when we formed our own home care agency, now known as Messiah Lifeways At Home. Then, several years later, we added the Adult Day programs. More recently, offerings like Connections and Respite reinforce our commitment to helping people live longer and stronger in their own home.
The commitment to help individuals age in place along with offering enrichment opportunities like Messiah Lifeways Wellness and Pathways Institute for Lifelong Learning are just a few examples that shows the broad spectrum of services. It soon became clear that we could no longer be fully represented by a single bricks and mortar site. “Messiah Village” represented that single site, and while it makes sense to the residents who live on the campus, the name Messiah Lifeways makes more sense and captures the essence of what we do for the many people throughout South Central PA. All in all, we offer a multitude of services and programs, and Messiah Village happens to be one of eleven offerings to help guide, serve, enrich and or help older adults age in place.
One number tells the story
The most telling of this necessary shift in identity is the number 2,400. Why is this number so significant? It represents the number of seniors served by Messiah Lifeways in our previous fiscal year July 13’-June 14’. To help you wrap your head around the numbers, last year 809 residents lived at Messiah Village in that time. So, the majority of those served were clients and members from some of the above mentioned services, plus Coaching clients, residents of Mount Joy Country Homes, and members of the two senior centers we sponsor and operate in Cumberland County. Our reach and mission stretch far beyond Mt. Allen Drive, from Shippensburg to Hershey, New Bloomfield to Lewisberry and beyond. I believe this fact in itself really legitimizes the rebranding vision, dream, and reality.
Lastly, the story does not end here. We still have work to do. There are still plenty of people who don’t know about or get the name change. But that’s okay. We don’t know what it means to rest on our laurels. There are many new and exciting things coming out of Messiah Lifeways and, like most good things, its essence and brand will stand the test of time. I’m glad to be a part of it, and I invite you on our journey, to change the conversation about aging, and to reimagine what Messiah Lifeways is all about.