Connections Program Coming to an End

For more than six years, the Community Support Services team has been collaborating with vendors, community partners, committed stakeholders, and friends to bring a thriving, fulfilling village-to-village model to Central Pennsylvania. Connections is a grassroots, neighbor helping neighbor program. Over the years, we’ve heard great stories of new friendships, creative solutions, common bonds, and shared interests. For some members, Connections has decreased loneliness and opened up new windows of opportunity to serve, and to serve alongside others.

Unfortunately, Connections has not achieved the fullness of service impact that had been originally envisioned. Despite our continued efforts through marketing, storytelling, advertising, and personal sharing, we’ve not seen membership increase.

As a non-profit organization which was formed in 1896, Messiah Lifeways is wholly committed to serving older adults and their families in a variety of ways. Realizing that no two life journeys are the same, we offer a spectrum of services to meet a wide range of needs. While many of our community based programs, like Adult Day centers and Messiah Lifeways At Home are flourishing, Connections, however, is a program we must now discontinue.

This decision has not been an easy one.  In order to fulfill our mission and be good stewards of our organizational resources, we will no longer support Connections memberships.  While this program will conclude as of January 31, 2019, it is our sincere hope that the relationships formed through this program will continue.

If you have any questions, please contact Karl Brummer or Christina Weber by calling 717.697.4666.

This is what a Social Security scam sounds like

Music Therapy

Close your eyes and try humming your favorite song. Perhaps it’s a song from your wedding day or a children’s tune learned on Grandma’s lap. Is it a hymn? A piano sonata? A classic love song from a special high school dance? Music surely evokes powerful memories but its power reaches far beyond nostalgia – music heals. A growing body of medical research asserts that music therapy improves quality of life and can decrease pain perception, reduce the use of opioid painkillers, restore lost speech, reduce agitation, and more.

Messiah Lifeways at Messiah Village is delighted to announce the launch of The Snelbaker Music Therapy program. Established in 2018 by Carlyn B. Snelbaker, in memory of her late husband, Richard Snelbaker, Esq., the program brings a board-certified music therapist to our skilled nursing neighborhoods to offer personalized, clinical service to improve outcomes, behaviors, and holistic wellness for residents. While Messiah Village has a rich legacy of using and appreciating music in clinical and social settings, The Snelbaker Music Therapy program marks a considerable turning point in our therapeutic approaches. According to Ike Schlossberg, social worker and Community Life Leader, the advent of a formalized music therapy program will “take music beyond art form and entertainment, and help residents creatively express their memories and feelings.” Schlossberg, an avid musician, met Dick Snelbaker on the day Dick moved into the memory care neighborhood and remained in touch with him until his passing in January. As a key influencer and coordinator of this new program, Ike is pleased to know that this offers a wider range of clinical approaches for caring for residents, far beyond pharmacological interventions or managing difficult behaviors.

In September, Messiah Lifeways began its contract with WB Music Therapy, LLC based out of Harrisburg, PA. Co-owner Kristyn Beeman, MTBC, has begun weekly visits to our skilled nursing neighborhoods as she combines her passion for the healing power of music with her training as a certified dementia practitioner. Contracting with a local specialist means immediacy and expertise, although our long-term aspiration is to create our own music therapist position and allow the program to flourish into other areas, from Enhanced and Residential Living to Adult Day. Fortunately, The Richard C. and Carlyn B. Snelbaker Endowed Music Therapy Fund will provide a perpetual source of funding to ensure that this exciting new program will continue to grow and thrive year after year.

One need only spend a few minutes with Kristyn to discover her deep-seated love for older adults and how musical expression can unlock their memories and bring purpose and joy to their day. “Music therapy really seeks to achieve nonmusical goals. While I work with all ages, I really love this population.” She will conduct group sessions and individual sessions as she builds rapport and meets Messiah Village residents. Stay tuned for outcomes and updates as the Snelbaker Music Therapy program begins making its full impact. If you are interested in learning more about the Snelbaker Music Therapy program, or if you would like to support this life-enhancing program with a charitable gift, please contact Rachel Pease, Director of Development, at or 717.591.5598.

The Power of Positivity

Family man, world traveler, lifelong educator, and retired high school administrator. Richard “Dick” Nickle is known for many things – but quitting isn’t one of them. On Super Bowl Sunday in 2000, Nickle was clearing his driveway of snow when a drunk driver hit him and continued driving with Nickle on the car.

The impact of the crash sent his snow blower onto a neighbor’s porch. Dick suffered a heart attack, stroke, and traumatic injuries and endured major surgery and a lengthy hospitalization that “seemed like forever.” His right leg is supported with a metal rod and his left leg ends halfway between his knee & ankle. He credits surgeons at Penn State Hershey with the gift of an air vacuum prosthetic leg that fits more comfortably, but life as an amputee isn’t easy. “Some people think life is over, but it’s not.”

Writing a New Chapter

Dick’s resilience led him to start the Amputee Support Team of Central PA, whose motto is “So others may benefit from us.” Their vision is to empower members, families, caregivers and friends to optimize the care & well-being of amputees in our area. Dick knows the journey is hard; but he and his wife Barbara are using their experience to shower compassion and support on others. As a client of the Messiah Lifeways Adult Day program in Carlisle, PA, Dick uses humor to connect with fellow clients. He enjoys crafts and projects that require collaboration; “there’s still so much we can accomplish.”

Dick Nickle at the Carlisle Adult Day Center host site, The Meetinghouse. Photo credit: Nate Shields.

Dick finds that much of the wisdom he gained as an amputee applies nicely to the Adult Day program – “you have to be a good listener and trust the people who are helping you.” Dick devoted more than 40 years to educating students at Cumberland Valley High School and now he’s teaching all of us an important lesson about perseverance and the power of positivity.

To learn more about our Adult Day programs in Mechanicsburg & Carlisle, please click [here].



‘Ask The Undertaker’ with Bob Buhrig on the Coach’s Corner podcast Ep.19

Talking about and pre-planning for one’s funeral, burial and death are not easy topics to discuss. But in this episode we talk with Bob Buhrig, owner and operator of Buhrig Funeral Home & Crematory in Mechanicsburg, as he answers questions with grace and compassion, and offers his expert advice and insight to help understand, embrace and plan for these touchy subjects. Learn about the five critical questions your survivors want you to answer before your death, along with insight into cremation, pre-funding and veterans benefits. Click below to listen. (National Funeral Directors Association)

Buhrig Funeral Home & Crematory
37 East Main Street
Mechanicsburg, PA 17055
Tel: (717) 766-3421

What does it mean to “Love Generously?”

“Surprise!”  “Happy Birthday!”   These are the words shouted at me several weeks ago when I walked into what I expected to be a departmental meeting.  Instead, a room full of Messiah Village residents and team members had gathered to help me usher in my 60th birthday.  I am not easily surprised, but this was a shock to me, albeit a very nice one!  I became a bit emotional as I looked around the room and saw the many smiling faces focused my way.  What a blessing that was, and it will be a memory I cherish for a long time.  I experienced it as an expression of love at the time, and especially as I read the many cards people had brought.  I am grateful for those who organized and participated in this surprise, and the many well-wishers who spoke to me afterwards.  Love expressed openly can be a powerful thing!

Appropriately then, the focus of my blog today is the core value we summarize as “Love Generously.”  What does it mean to show love in this way?  I believe the best model is that of God’s love expressed through Jesus Christ.  This standard of generous love is very high.  The psalmist indicates the concept of eternal love.  “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.”  (Psalm 118:1).  Paul expressed the incomprehensible and limitless nature of God’s love in Ephesians 3, when he expresses, “how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.  May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully.” (Ephesians 3:18-19).  So then, this is an ideal we have to determine how bountiful our expressions of love should be.

In a workplace like we have at Messiah Lifeways, there are many opportunities to share generous love.  It can be in our interactions with our residents and clients, and in how we treat each other as team members.  Perhaps it is as simple as a smile and friendly greeting, or as complex as it sometimes can be to give someone the benefit of the doubt that their intentions are pure.  It can even be expressed in the celebration of a significant birthday!  In any case, it is an expectation for each of us as we live out our values.  Our values statement regarding this is as follows.

Love Generously

  1. Shows Christ-like love by providing tender, compassionate care
  2. Places emphasis on the person and relationships rather than on tasks alone
  3. Offers support and volunteers to help others
  4. Looks for the best in each person and can identify individual strengths and interests
  5. Acts in ways that help everyone feel welcomed and included

I think we can recognize that it is not always easy to exemplify this kind of love.  In society today, there is a lot of conflict and division that is often expressed in unhealthy ways.  There aren’t many expressions of generous love that people experience, especially in the political arena in recent years.  I believe we still have a responsibility to rise above the fray and set an example for others.  I like how Henri Nouwen expresses this in Bread for the Journey.  He writes,

“How can we choose love when we have experienced so little of it?  We choose love by taking small steps of love every time there is an opportunity.  A smile, a handshake, a word of encouragement, a phone call, a card, an embrace, a kind greeting, a gesture of support, a moment of attention, a helping hand, a present, a financial contribution, a visit—all these are little steps toward love.

 Each step is like a candle burning in the night.  It does not take the darkness away, but it guides us through the darkness.  When we look back after many small steps of love, we will discover that we have made a long and beautiful journey.”

As we think about our plans for the day, let us take time to express our love generously to each other, to those we serve, and even to ourselves.  Let that expression of love be the “candle burning in the night” for someone.  Based on my experience on the receiving end of this, it can make a huge difference in brightening up the world!

Supporting Adult Day Clients and Caregivers

It is not an easy thing to walk alongside and provide care for a beloved spouse or loved one as he or she suffers the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. As we all know, Alzheimer’s disease is a thief – it steals not only memories, but also a person’s sense of identity and purpose as he or she loses the ability to do the things that have long been part of daily life.

Bob Gates lived this journey first-hand after his wife of more than 60 years, Audrey, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in July 2011.

Bob and Audrey met in 1st Grade and had their first date at the young age of 16. After graduating from high school, the couple married in 1954 and built a life together as best friends and partners. Bob’s career with Bell of PA and Bell Atlantic, which we now know as Verizon, spanned more than 40 years and took the couple to Sunbury, Pottsville, and Altoona before they settled permanently in the Harrisburg area. Audrey was a full-time mother and homemaker, raising their three children and actively helping with grandchildren as well. The couple’s favorite hobby was traveling. They traveled to many different places on the east coast, but returned time and again to Myrtle Beach, SC where they camped right on the water. An outdoorsy family, the Gates enjoyed camping, fishing, hunting, and time spent together around the campfire. The close-knit family also practiced a strong faith, which led them to serve their church and the community out of love for the Lord.

It is no surprise then, that after receiving Audrey’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis, Bob and family banded together to care for Audrey at home for as long as possible. As Audrey’s needs increased and became overwhelming, Bob found respite and support through the Adult Day program on the campus of Messiah Village where Audrey became a client in January 2017. Bob’s objectives in enrolling Audrey in Adult Day were to provide her with increased socialization, keep her physically active and stimulated, and slow the progression of her mental decline. Additionally, Bob knew that enrolling Audrey in Adult Day would allow him to recharge and renew himself as her primary caregiver and give him time to downsize their home and prepare for the next stage of life – the couple’s move to their apartment in Village Square.

“Adult Day is a godsend,” Bob says. “The team members are the most compassionate, caring, professional people I have ever seen. They are genuine – it is not an act. It takes a special kind of person to do what they do, and they are just that…special.”

The Gates moved into Village Square in November 2017, and Bob continued to take Audrey to Adult Day every day until February 2018, when Audrey was discharged from Adult Day and welcomed to the Manchester neighborhood. Now, Bob visits Audrey daily, often utilizing Kibler Bridge, which connects Village Square to Village Center. In the Manchester neighborhood, Audrey continues to receive top-notch care, and Bob is grateful for the ways that team members show love and compassion to Audrey each day.

Despite the challenges and – yes, the sadness – of Bob and Audrey’s journey, Bob is grateful. “We are highly blessed,” he says. “I have met so many people at Messiah Village that I treasure, and I am blessed to be in a beautiful community surrounded by friendly, helpful, compassionate, Christ-like people.”

Written by: Rachel Pease, Director of Development at Messiah Lifeways
Originally published in “Spolight” A Newsletter for Donors and Volunteers, September 2018


Pumpkins and Leaves and Hay Bales . . . Oh My!

I came home from a weekend away last week to discover pumpkins, colored leaves, and hay bales adorning the neighbor’s porch. A sudden sense of sadness and indignation washed over me. It’s not fall yet! Don’t make me say goodbye to summer until I have to!

There is nothing inherently wrong with fall – crisp air and apples, comfy sweaters and boots, vibrant foliage and mums, football tailgating and soccer are all lovely reasons to embrace this season.

However, fall in Pennsylvania also means that cold weather and winter are around the corner. And for that reason, I will always have a love-hate relationship with fall.

I can already feel the dread rising up like bile in my throat. Dramatic? Ok – forget the bit about the bile.

But in all seriousness, I fight that dread throughout the cold months. I find it all too easy for complaint after complaint to roll off my tongue, for discontent to lodge itself like a stubborn splinter into my heart.

What’s a girl to do?

Gratitude is the only antidote. No, gratitude doesn’t change the weather or how I feel about the cold, but it does change my heart and my focus.

Practicing gratitude can happen in countless ways: keeping a journal or gratitude jar, thankful praying, meditating on God’s goodness, mindfully walking, writing thank-you notes to those you appreciate, and the list goes on.

Turning our focus from the negative to the positive provides a wealth of benefits – other than a cessation of grumbling. According to an article in Forbes Magazine [click here],  scientific research reveals that gratitude increases empathy and reduces aggression. It also improves

  • physical health
  • psychological health
  • sleep patterns
  • self-esteem
  • mental strength

Instead of whining about how cold it is this year, I resolve to express gratitude in some way every day.


We’re delighted to have Kerry Hoke, Director of Pastoral Ministries, join the blogging team. Kerry has a Bachelor’s degree in English from Messiah College, graduate credits from Asbury Theological Seminary, and a Master of Arts in Spiritual Formation and Leadership from Spring Arbor University. She and her husband Bryan, who is the Bishop of the Atlantic Conference of the Brethren in Christ Church, have three daughters.

Retirement Planning: Beyond Dollars & Cents

“Retirement is a time of great change, and a chance to begin an exciting new phase of your life. But like anything done well, it takes planning. While everyone thinks they are ready to retire, not everyone is truly prepared.” – Retirement Options Coaching

Financial planning for retirement is crucial. It takes center stage in retirement preparedness, as it should. Concerns such as, “have I saved enough, will I be able to cover [my/our] medical bills, or will I have enough to leave to my family?” are tough questions to plan for and to truly answer. To compound things further, despite the average life span in the U.S. continually climbing in the last 50+ years, retirement age has not kept pace. Therefore, an increasing number of people are living well beyond their expectations in retirement – sometimes 20 to 30+ years longer. And because they were not expecting to, they were wholly unprepared. A number of recent studies, including one from GoBakingRates.Com show that 1 in 3 Americans have no money saved for retirement, and the large majority don’t have enough saved. So without question, many of us need to do more (maybe a lot more) to get prepared. Hop to it!

But to narrow the point for this article, let’s be positive and assume you’re not a part of the unprepared mass, and you’ve taken the necessary steps towards financial preparedness. Now it’s on to the next step in retirement planning.

Embracing non-financial retirement plans and expectations

There are many other significant areas in retirement life that also require attention, planning and consideration aside from finances. We know many are financially unprepared, so it’s likely, many including those who are financially prepared, have done little to no planning or even considered asking other questions about their own retirement. ”What will I do to fill that time with purpose, meaning, and productivity? How do I plan to stay healthy, engaged and even flourish in retirement? Can I or must I reinvent myself? Do I need to work? What will that journey look like for possibly 10, 20 or 30+ years in retirement?”

Part of finding this balance and ensuring a positive experience in retirement is changing our attitude toward aging and embracing it as a time of gain, not loss. Messiah Lifeways, Coaching in particular, believes in changing the conversation about aging. In late 2016, we began to offer the Retirement Options Coaching (ROC) program to reinforce this ideal. ROC helps retirees plan for their next phase of life by assessing, focusing, and guiding retirees through a Life Options Profile™ which concentrates on 6 key life arenas:

  1. Career and Work
  2. Health and Wellness
  3. Finance and Insurance
  4. Family and Relationships
  5. Leisure and Social
  6. Personal Development

A Life Options Profile evaluates these six parts of retirement and provides personal, practical, and a relevant self-portrait of one’s lifestyle needs and strengths. It also provides insight and guidance on transitioning from your current lifestyle to a new retirement lifestyle. Suggested reading, powerful questions and client exercises work in conjunction with the Life Options Profile, which enables retirees to examine and plan for a more fulfilling, healthy, and productive lifestyle and can help balance many of the other attributes vital to a successful retirement.

How can you tell if you are prepared? Answer these eight short, seemingly straight-forward questions to help you determine if you are retirement ready.

In retirement, do you have a plan for…

…exercising your mind for continued, personal learning? Yes or No

…changes in income, health and/or lifestyle that may affect your financial security?  Yes or No

…maintaining your sense of purpose and self-worth? Yes or No

…how you will purposefully spend your time with fulfilling activities and interests?  Yes or No

…interaction with others to build and maintain enjoyable relationships? Yes or No

…managing family commitments to aging parents, children and grandchildren? Yes or No

…where you will reside? Yes or No

…making adjustments to ensure a healthy attitude towards life and retirement? Yes or No

Give yourself 1 point for each question you answered ‘yes’ and zero for ‘no.’ Then add up the total. If you scored a 6 or under, you could benefit from taking the Life Options Profile assessments and working with a Certified Retirement Coach to develop a personal retirement plan. To learn more about this valuable program, rates, or to schedule a free 30-minute consultation, contact the Messiah Lifeways Coaching office at 717.591.7225 or email



Caregiver Absenteeism: a Growing Economic Burden

“There are only four kinds of people in the world: those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.”

– Former First Lady, Rosalynn Carter

The Family Caregiver Alliance® defines a caregiver as, “an unpaid individual (for example, a spouse, partner, family member, friend, or neighbor) involved in assisting others with activities of daily living and/or medical tasks.” We can also define most caregivers as loving, caring heroes, who give of themselves unconditionally while in many instances sacrificing their own health and wellbeing, relationships and even employment.

According to research from the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, in 2015 there were roughly 34.2 million unpaid caregivers in the U.S. providing care particularly for someone over the age of 50. And the average age of a caregiver across the board was 49.2, which falls firmly in the primetime of a career and raising teens or even grandkids. Statistics also show them spending on average 24.4 hours a week providing care for a loved one. This research also indicated that 70% of working caregivers suffer work-related difficulties due to their dual roles. For instance, 61% of caregivers experience at least one change in their employment due to caregiving such as cutting back work hours, taking a leave of absence, receiving a warning about performance/attendance, among others. Furthermore, 49% arrive to their place of work late/leave early/take time off, 15% take a leave of absence, 14% reduce their hours/take a demotion, 7% receive a warning about performance/attendance, 5% turn down a promotion, 4% choose early retirement, 3% lose job benefits, and 6% give up working entirely.¹

Add all these stats and scenarios together, and you have a recipe for a residual burden on caregivers resulting in burnout, depression, poor health and a compromised commitment to their employers. This translates into poor work performance, loss of productivity, plus increases in absenteeism, health care subsidies, paid time-off, sick leave, and FMLA claims. Bottom line – caregiver absenteeism costs the U.S. economy an estimated $25.2 billion in lost productivity. ²

Employers must adapt

This problem will continue to trend upward, especially as the number of baby boomers surges and eventually grow older, frailer and more dependent. Employers will need to be more sensitive and proactive on this issue. Family Caregiver Alliance (FCA) offers employers a number of suggestions for removing barriers to equal employment such as adopting caregiver-friendly work policies and workplace flexibility, along with providing eldercare support, resources, and referral services to caregiver employees.³ [click here for the full list from FCA]. As Rosalyn Carter summarized, the potential for caregiving can affect us all, so the likelihood of being a caregiver and an employee simultaneously is a strong possibility. Are you prepared as an employer?

Messiah Lifeways Coaching encourages these ideals from FCA to employers, especially in the area of education and support. Messiah Lifeways Coaching will be offering its annual workshop entitled “Caregiver Solutions” on September 26, 2018. This workshop is designed for those seeking options, resources, and support as caregivers, especially for those who may be struggling to balance caring for a loved one and their own busy lives. The workshop is also open for professional development and education and to employers looking to gain a better perspective on the issue. Topics include: assessing and avoiding caregiver burnout, care options, costs, and making a plan. If you or a staff member would like to attend, please call 717.591.7225 or register online at

¹National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP (2015) Caregiving in the U.S.
²Gallup-Healthways. (2011). Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Survey: Caregiving Costs U.S. Economy $25.2 Billion in Lost Productivity. Based on the average number of work days missed per working caregiver, assuming $200 in lost productivity per day.
³Williams, J. C., Devaux, R., Petrac, P., & Feinberg, L. (2012). Protecting Family Caregivers from Employment Discrimination