Saying Farewell to Volunteer Director Lois Hutchison

On Friday, July 14 we said a fond farewell to long-time Director of Volunteers, Lois Hutchison. Lois started working at Messiah Village in 1989 and worked in several areas until she took leadership of the volunteer office in 2002. Since that time, we’ve recorded an amazing 415,160 volunteer hours that are valued at nearly $9 million! Hundreds of volunteers and residents attended her retirement celebration in the Chapel. President Curt Stutzman and Vice President of Gift Development Sharon Engle both made special presentations.

Lois has poured her heart and soul into volunteers, residents, guests, and fellow colleagues over these past decades and her smile will be missed. Lois plans to enjoy resting, reading, visiting family, and traveling with her husband.

As we wish Lois Godspeed, we remember that volunteers are always needed and most welcome. To learn more about volunteer opportunities, please call the Volunteer office at 717.697.4666, extension 5411.

Volunteering at a Senior Center with Pets

The Power of Volunteerism

Volunteering is such a pure and selfless act, and all generations can benefit from it. For older adults especially, volunteerism is a great form of enrichment and social engagement. Its value is two-fold: while helping others you can simultaneously improve your own physical, mental, and social well-being. Multiple studies reveal that retirement-age individuals who volunteer find it easier to stave off depression, isolation and boredom. Plus, time and time again you hear volunteers say, “I thought I was doing something helpful for someone else, but I feel just as rewarded by helping others.”

For Messiah Lifeways, volunteerism is a quintessential part of our mission and foundation. There are nearly 450 active volunteers ranging from 13 to 97 years old. And the average age of volunteers is 74 years young, which emphasizes the significance and value of volunteering no matter what your age.

Lois Hutchison, Director of Volunteers at Messiah Lifeways, states, “Older volunteers in particular want to give back by helping others.” They have a great appreciation for volunteerism and enjoy staying actively engaged by making a difference in the lives of others.” She also added that “many family members come back to the Village to volunteer, even though their loved one has passed away. They feel a connection and want to give back to the place that meant so much to their parent or spouse.”

Many volunteers live at Messiah Village and are eager to help in any way. Aside from traditional duties like passing water pitchers, volunteers at Messiah Village can do out of the ordinary tasks, such as driving the on campus shuttle or helping run the gift or coffee shops. Others help by showcasing their talents playing a musical instrument or by bringing their furry friends in for pet therapy.

In the most recent edition of the Messiah Lifeways Preview Guide, Messiah Lifeways volunteer Kathy Eshbach, along with her dog Bentley, was asked what volunteering meant to her.

“Volunteering at Messiah Lifeways strengthens my perspective on what’s truly valuable in life, and I’m grateful for the opportunities to learn from the residents we meet. I enjoy being part of a profound mission that needs and speaks the love of Christ.

Visiting each neighborhood allows us to build friendships and strike up conversations about our similar love for dogs; it’s quite common for residents to reminisce about their pets. While chatting with the residents, the generational differences disappear, and commonalities are discovered. Bentley’s lovable and curious demeanor quickly spawns smiles and loving pats from his acquaintances. It’s rewarding to watch Bentley’s unique way of eliciting positive distractions as he greets and seeks attention. I always leave enriched by the joy I receive through volunteering with Bentley.”

To find out more about volunteer opportunities and how you can make a difference at Messiah Lifeways, call Lois Hutchison at 717.790.8203.

What Is Aging in Place?

What exactly does it mean to “Age in Place”? Ideally, aging in place is leading a healthy and engaging life in your own “home” for as long as one chooses. And “home” should be considered a fluid term. But, if we delve deeper, we’ll discover its meaning becomes situational, conditional, and distinct to each person facing difficult life choices as they grow older and or more dependent on others.

Aging in place has become a broad term bandied about in the senior and long-term care industries for many years. At work, I use the term several times a day and provide guidance to older adults and their families on how to “age in place.” However, for those who have little or no exposure to an aging or disabled loved one struggling to live independently or safely at home, it may be an unfamiliar concept.

One way to help define aging in place, or muddy the waters, depending on how you look at it, is to dispel what it is not:

•It’s not exclusively defined by age. When you retire at 65 you’re not suddenly aging in place. Furthermore, is a healthy 81 year old still working full-time and leading a very active lifestyle aging in place? I wouldn’t necessarily say that he is. Plus, if I claimed he was, he might respectfully disagree, since I’m referring to my father-in-law. Conversely, we could reference a 45 year old female with a traumatic brain injury in which the family is doing everything they can to keep her at home as she becomes more dependent each passing year.

•It also is not defined necessarily by where you live. Someone residing in a place other than their house, such as in a retirement or 55+ community, a personal care home or assisted living, has the opportunity to age in place. Therefore, you can age in place in multiple stages and locations too.

Thoroughly confused yet? Don’t be. You can boil the term down to whether a person has a fundamental deficit or inherent need, that without help may not be able to live independently or safely. These deficits can be quite broad. It could be that because of aging, impairment or disability that person needs some home modifications: a ramp into the house, a bedroom on the first floor, or a walk-in shower rather than a bathtub. A deficit may also be due to a loss, such as the loss of driving privileges or loss of physical or mental capacities. Aging in place manifests itself if you now need assistance coming to your current living situation for the safety, welfare or maintenance of you or your household.

Another way to understand aging in place is to talk about its primary alternative. Typically, this is choosing to move to a retirement community or care facility because it could make life easier or more enjoyable or safer than living in a private residence. Statistically, if we examine the choice of aging in place versus making a move among older adults, the percentage of those who move into a facility for care is less than 15%. Thus, the majority of older adults will be living at home and opt to age in place.

There are a multitude of different services and resources that can help people stay at home and age in place. Family or hired caregivers and/or professional home care are keys to aging in place. Other options include: adult day programs, home modification, and technology such as emergency call systems, telemedicine and even the use of web cams. Additionally, home health care and hospice services, durable medical equipment, outpatient therapy and diagnostic programs bolster the effort of people living safely and healthy at home. Wellness programs, volunteering, community membership groups like Messiah Lifeways Connections, senior centers, and transportation services can help round out a healthy and engaging life in the comfort of your own home.

To learn more about aging in place options available through Messiah Lifeways Community Support Services, call 717.790.8209 or go to

Changing the Conversation About Aging

“Between 1900 and 2000, average life expectancy increased by nearly 30 years in the United States and most other developed countries of the world, and the developing world is catching up quickly. For the first time in history, most people now being born can expect to live seven, eight, nine, or more decades. This achievement changes not only the trajectory of individual lives but also the shape of societies: Adults 60 and older are now the fastest-growing segment of our population…”

“Many older-adult patients wanted to make a difference in the world but, finding no role for themselves, were treated as socially useless. Having created a new stage of life, the next step is to make it meaningful.”- Linda P. Fried

Making aging positive may sound like a simple task, but finding how each individual can enhance their next 25 to 30 years may not be so simple. Many older adults have a desire to make a difference in the world, which involves having a meaning or purpose to life. The recent article, Making Aging Positive from The Atlantic, states what research concluded, that an individual’s physical and mental well-being are enhanced if empowered to make personal decisions. A personal choice of many older adults is to contribute to the next generation and “leaving the world better than you found it.” Unfortunately, many years of experience and knowledge is overlooked because society as a whole does not value individuals who have grey hair and wrinkles.

Making Aging Positive gives examples of ways to “change the lens” on how we view aging. Older adults want to feel needed and have a desire to “contribute in a meaningful way.” Research shows that older adults are great volunteers. Many studies have found that these volunteers are living longer because of improved physical, mental and social health.

There are many volunteer programs and models of senior service. When older adults volunteer and/or teach the next generation, its value becomes twofold. While helping or doing for others, they can simultaneously improve their own physical, mental, and social well-being. All generations benefit from volunteering and serving one another, and our economy benefits as well.

The shift in perspective, outlook, and influence for older adults is imperative and inevitable. Statistically and philosophically being an older adult now is unlike it ever has been in human history. It’s not only the path our society is taking, but it’s the essence of creating more optimism and opportunity as we age. Messiah Lifeways continue to evolve and innovate the way that we view aging. Programs like Pathways Institute for Lifelong Learning, Coaching, Connections, Wellness and Volunteering typify Messiah Lifeways’ committment to making aging positive. We look to “change the conversation” just as Linda Fried challenges readers to make growing older a more positive and enriching time of life.

If you would like to read the entire article, Making Aging Positive, please follow the link to this story.

Linda P. Fried is the dean and the DeLamar Professor at the Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health

Source: Fried, L.P. (2014, June 1). Making Aging Positive, The Atlantic. The Atlantic Monthly Group.