Dear Supporters & Friends,
At Messiah Lifeways® our mission is to “responsibly enhance the lives of older adults with Christ-like love.” Typically when we talk about living out our mission, the focus is on the words “enhance” and “Christ-like love.” Many stories have been shared over the years about people fully embracing life or about Christ-like love being demonstrated. But over the last three months, much of our emphasis and focus have shifted to the word “responsibly.” It has been paramount for our organization to responsibly respond to the threat that COVID-19 has brought to our community. Part of acting responsibly meant canceling or temporarily suspending myriad activities and programs that – in normal circumstances – enhance life for residents and clients.
But thankfully, acting responsibly didn’t mean stopping these life-enhancing offerings altogether. Even as they stepped up to help with staffing the Screening Table and delivering meals to residents, team members in Enrichment Services also worked diligently to creatively reimagine how they can continue to nurture residents in mind, body, and spirit in a safe way.
Pathways Institute for Lifelong Learning® courses went virtual, allowing participants to explore interesting topics from the comfort of their own home. Wellness classes were recorded and broadcast on our in-house television station, MVTV. Salon Services put together beauty supply kits for residents while salons were closed. In-person church services had to be canceled, but campus pastors created televised Pastor’s Chats, wrote devotionals, arranged for virtual hymn sings, and made countless phone calls to offer spiritual support.
Plato is quoted as saying, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” In that spirit, our final Spotlight on Philanthropy – “Stories of Hope” shines the spotlight on the Enrichment Services team members who found new ways to continue to enhance life for residents and clients in the midst of a pandemic. Their efforts demonstrate Christ-like love for all they serve, while adhering to guidelines that are responsible and necessary during this season. Through these stories, you’ll see a glimpse of how each facet of our mission continues to be lived out, each and every day.
With gratitude & hope,
Pathways Institute for Lifelong Learning Rises To the Challenge of Online Learning
For years we have talked about the possibility of offering online courses through Pathways Institute for Lifelong Learning. However, the hallmark of Pathways Institute courses is the personal connections that are formed in the classroom. Not only is discussion often more robust when learners are face to face, but many instructors feel that the quality of their presentation depends a great deal on the energy they receive from the room. And, in-person courses help to combat isolation and loneliness that is often experienced by older adults. So, our attention and resources have long been devoted to providing an in-person lifelong learning experience that is the envy of many senior living communities.
But when in-person gatherings had to be canceled due to COVID-19, moving courses online became an immediate priority. And thankfully, our new Director of Pathways Institute, Anastasia Petrovskaya, was up to the challenge!
With the help of innovative instructors Roger Godin, Barry Gordon, John Maietta, and Lou Thieblemont, Pathways Institute was able to offer 16 virtual courses to more than 200 participants this spring. One instructor even offered a Zoom Movie Club! Overall, the move to online learning was unbelievably positive and well-received as evidenced by the quotes of appreciation below:
“I have enjoyed the small working group of dedicated instructors who put together this online Pathways Institute program under the wonderful leadership of Anastasia. We shared a passion to continue the mission of Pathways Institute despite the current pandemic crisis situation. I really enjoy the experience of teaching utilizing Zoom, but I really missed seeing all of the smiling faces. The presence of the students really energizes my teaching. I had to imagine them being there when teaching alone in my home. It was harder to generate the full energy of teaching live, but it was far better than not teaching at all. Overall I enjoyed it very much.” – Roger Godin, Pathways Institute Instructor
“I deeply appreciate the opportunity to continue to learn online in this time of social isolation. I do look forward to being back to Pathways Institute in person when the time comes. Thank you for all you do.” – Pathways Institute participant
“I moved to Mechanicsburg about 3 years ago and found Pathways Institute. I love to learn something new every day and must say that the curriculum lives up to my expectations. Thank you for bringing this to us into our homes. Kudos to you and all of the lecturers!!!!” – Pathways Institute participant
“Please sign me up for ALL the upcoming offerings in June. They all sound fabulous! My husband and I are enjoying these SO MUCH!! Thank you for arranging these!” – Pathways Institute participant
As we plan for the fall, we don’t know what the future holds for in-person gatherings. But, we can move forward with confidence knowing that lifelong learning will continue no matter what! To learn more about innovative Pathways Institute programming, visit ThePathwaysInstitute.org/.
Wellness Team Keeps Residents Moving
Our in-house TV station, MVTV, has never been viewed more faithfully than in past weeks! One reason for this is that our innovative Wellness and Marketing teams have collaborated to record and broadcast a wide variety of exercise classes so that residents can continue to pursue their fitness goals even while the Center for Vitality and Wellness has been closed. On a rotating weekly schedule, residents can tune in to participate in classes ranging from Classic SilverSneakers® and seated low-impact workouts to Tai Chi, Stretching and Yoga, Balance and Stability, Senior Kickboxing, and more! Hopefully gaining the “Quarantine 15” has been avoided here at Messiah Lifeways, since there are so many fun and invigorating options available to keep residents fit and active.
One resident who just turned 96 told me that she hasn’t been able to go to the Center for Vitality and Wellness in years, but the first day she saw Wellness Classes on MVTV, she enthusiastically participated. “It was so much fun and made me feel great!” she declared.
Now that restrictions are easing in Residential Living, the Center for Vitality and Wellness is reopening to residents with enhanced safety and health protocols in place (off campus members and volunteer instructors are not able to return as of yet). Please visit MessiahLifeways.org/messiah-lifeways-wellness-updates to learn more about our reopening plan. The Wellness team is excited to welcome residents back!
A Message of Hope from Residential Living Pastor Evie Telfer
This season has been incredibly challenging emotionally and spiritually. Spiritual needs have only increased even as opportunities for in-person connection have decreased. Evie Telfer, Residential Living Pastor, has been mindful of the needs of all residents during this hard time, and she has worked with the Pastoral Ministries team to offer spiritual support in any way possible. From recorded Pastoral Chats, hymn sings, and Bible studies to written devotionals published in the Residential Living newsletter each week, our pastors have looked for ways to be the hands and feet of Jesus.
And so, as we close out our “Stories of Hope” series, I leave you with words written by Pastor Evie. We still don’t know when our lives will return to normal – or if they ever fully will – but we do know who we can trust through it all.
How long will our lives be restricted by COVID-19? This is the question in the back of just about everyone’s minds these days. Of course, the answer will depend on so many variables – people’s choices related to infection control, circumstances beyond people’s control, choices balanced between individual and common good, and all sorts of other things. A resident recently shared with me the answer she gives her spouse in Nursing Care when he asks, “When are you coming home?” Instead of trying to explain everything about the virus and the quarantine and all the variables that might go into a loosening of restrictions – all of which would only confuse him – she simply says, “Not today.” When he asks, “What about tomorrow?” she responds “I don’t know about tomorrow.” And that is enough, because he knows and trusts his wife.
I wonder if this is similar to the way God deals with us when we ask, “How long, Oh Lord?” It would certainly be too much for us to comprehend all the variables in God’s mind and heart related to what would be best for us and for each person in the whole rest of the world, so he simply says, “Let not your heart be troubled” and “I am coming soon.” Essentially, it comes down to who we know God to be. It is helpful to remind ourselves about the character of the God in whom we put our trust.
Our faithful waiting hinges on this, and not on the circumstances. While we wait, this is a good time to focus on reminding ourselves of God’s character, and the best place to look is at the life of Jesus. He said himself, “Whoever has seen me, you have seen the Father.” (John 14:9)
Please consider supporting the Messiah Lifeways mission with your gift today. Visit MessiahLifeways.org/Giving to learn more about your giving options – including the option to give to the Endowed Fund for Lifelong Learning in support of the Pathways Institute. If you would like to talk with me personally about your philanthropic goals, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 717.591.5598. I would love to help in any way I can.