Resident Stories

Posted: Thursday, May 1st, 2014 by Colleen Algeo in

Reinventing Expertise
Bring the real you, apply and repeat

We are experiencing new trends in volunteerism. Resident volunteers are not only responding to predetermined needs, but also they are bringing their expertise and leadership to the table in service of others. As this phenomenon spreads, we are noticing greater personal satisfaction, community engagement and overall well-being.

People facing retirement today want to continue to impact their community, and that is precisely what the people featured in this story are doing. They have all experienced a rebirth or a renaissance of sorts. They are taking their lifetime of knowledge and reapplying it for the greater good of their friends and neighbors.

Dick Schmoyer gives Charlotte Kalbfleisch a computer lesson.

Dick Schmoyer helps Charlotte Kalbfleisch learn new skills on her laptop.

Meet Tech Savy Schmoyer
Dick Schmoyer likes to figure things out. After earning a BS in Electrical Engineering from Penn State University, he became employed at Pennsylvania Power & Light (PP&L) where he served as a computer programmer for four years and an engineer for the system planning department for 30 more years. He later contracted for the Pennsylvania-New Jersey-Maryland Interconnection that helps deliver power throughout the tri-state area. To finish out his impressive career, he served as President of Bally Savings Bank. In that role, he oversaw general administration of the bank and managed the organization’s technology functions.

Here at Peter Becker Community (PBC), Dick uses his can-do attitude to help and teach others. As a self-professed computer hobbyist, he chairs the PBC Computer Club that assists residents with computer problems and provides technology training. It’s not unusual to see him setting up someone’s laptop or helping a fellow resident get connected on Facebook or Skype. On one occasion Dick helped two residents make a live video connection to their granddaughter’s wedding in Austria. He also keeps busy coordinating our volunteer driver program (which makes sure others get to and from their important appointments on time) and our hospitality team (which welcomes new residents). Dick has also held several leadership positions here on campus, including serving as Resident Representative to the PBC Board of Directors, as President of the PBC Resident’s Association and as a current member of the PBC Auxiliary Board.

Sally playing the piano

Sally hosts “Sing-a-long with Sally” as often as she can.

Sing-Along with Sally
Sally Moyer has been playing the piano since age seven and she hasn’t stopped since. As a teenager, she was named church pianist and began giving private piano lessons in her home. Later, she became a music teacher at a local school district and continued her music ministry at church. When she decided to pursue a new career as a Licensed Practical Nurse in the mid-80s, she used her weekend dinner breaks to play piano for the residents right here at Peter Becker Community. And when Sally and her husband relocated to Florida, she started a monthly music therapy program for Alzheimer’s patients at a nearby retirement community.

Now a resident at PBC, Sally continues to share her passion for music. She regularly plays piano for Sunday chapel services, special events and weekly activities. She also hosts “Sing-Along with Sally,”a Sunday night gathering of fellow residents and friends. Sally believes that God brought her back to PBC in part to use her gifts to inspire and encourage others. “My prayer is that I can play for as long as I’m here.”

 

Dan Gallagher speaks to a group during the Veteran's Day celebration.

Dan Gallagher revitalizes the Veterans’ Club at the Community.

The Right Dan for the Job
Dan Gallagher is charismatic, humble and loves his country. He attributes his long career in industry management and experience as a senior non-commissioned officer in the military as placing him in good stead to lead the PBC Veterans Club. Dan has seen monthly meetings grow in attendance from 8 to 55 per meeting. In addition to the growing attendance, Dan has seen and been part of other changes. At the vets suggestion, a “Buck Basket” is passed at every meeting and the proceeds are donated to a local needy veteran or veterans organization. This year the PBC Veterans Group will donate $1,000. There is an annual day trip to a place of interest. This year they traveled with 82 vets, spouses and friends to a shore resort for a day of lunch and fun. A Christmas Gala closes out the year with a presentation of the Buck Basket proceeds at the December meeting. Dan applies a principle he learned in the military as part of his leadership: “Don’t tell me why we CAN’T do something, tell me why we CAN do it.”

 

Suzanne Brooke, the new Thrift Shop Manager, is refreshing the look and offerings at the Thrift Shop.

Going for Brooke
Suzanne Brooke is a woman of many talents. In her early years, she received an Associate’s degree in Retail & Merchandise Management from Becker Junior College and completed an internship with the upscale Bonwit Teller department store in New York City. She then began her retail career at the original Wanamaker’s in Philadelphia before transferring to the King of Prussia branch to manage 10 accessory departments. She liked change, however, and explored several different professional paths. Her next job saw her employed as a pharmacy tech (who also handled the organization’s administration and finances), and she later served a 17-year stint at Schulmerich Bells as a receptionist and handbell/chimes salesperson.

Today, Suzanne uses her know-how in fashion and retail to manage the PBC Thrift Shop. Under her leadership, the store has updated its look, expanded its clothing inventory and opened a new annex for books, games and household items. On any given day, you can find her freshening up the clothing racks and welcoming customers. She is also took on the role as President of the PBC Auxiliary in January 2018. Her diverse background in sales and management has equipped her well for these important responsibilities.

Vern Kratz is applauded on the bus by his charges.

Vern Kratz receives applause for his fun and professional approach to driving the PBC bus.

We Love Our Bus Driver
Vern Kratz has 16 years of driving coach (part time) for Perkiomen Tours and 10+ years of driving a bus for Generations of Indian Valley. Those experiences made it an easy transition to help Peter Becker Community with trips. Vern works closely with Irma Burns, who coordinates the trips and activities for residents. According to Irma, “We just love him. He’s fun. He jokes around and makes the bus ride relaxing and enjoyable for everyone. We completely trust him and it is thanks to his experiences we are going places that we haven’t gone before.”

 

 

 

 

Jeanette Schmoyer demonstrates a device that helps people with low vision.

Jeanette Schmoyer demonstrates a device that helps people with low vision.

Seeing Things Clearly
Low vision is a challenge that affects 14 million Americans. Jeannette Schmoyer was diagnosed as legally blind in her youth. She openly shares her story and has spent her life helping and advocating for people with low vision. Meeting her face to face immediately reveals her positivity. When she moved here, she had so many people asking her about her experiences that she decided to start a vision support group that helps people find solutions to their particular vision challenges. She also teaches people how to use adaptive devices. According to Jeannette, “There are so many solutions available today that no one should allow low vision to stop them from contributing or engaging in life.” Her mission is clear: to help people with vision challenges continue to lead rewarding lives.

But that’s not all, Jeannette has also created something using her upbeat personality. It is the Smile-A -While Club which meets two times a month to share life’s lighter, funnier moments. You will find this group reading jokes, watching videos and sharing humor and happiness.
There are many others who share a similar story. PBC is a place where it is easy for people to find their own personal niche and create a life to engage in…one that brings his or her lifetime of knowledge and puts it to good use.

 

Dressing Up the Thrift Shop With Fashion Sense

by Colleen Algeo, Communications Coordinator

Suzanne Brooke, the new Thrift Shop Manager, is refreshing the look and offerings at the Thrift Shop.

It is Wednesday afternoon and I drop into the campus’ newly revitalized Thrift Shop. There are new clothing racks, smart-looking arrangements and chic displays. There’s an emphasis on fashion with a boutique feel, but the men haven’t been left out. A 50% off clothing sale is in full swing. Four people are in the store: two long-standing customers, a volunteer and a nurse from Health Care. Let’s see what they think about the refresh.

Joan Pullman is a 30+ year customer of the shop and is happy to keep visiting. “I have been coming since my girls were ‘tweens’ and they are in their 40s now. I miss Molly (Souder), but I really love, love, love the new look.” Carolyn Seitz, another long-standing customer of 15 years, discussed her favorite things about the changes: “It’s quaint, clean, neat and has good prices…oh and it smells nice. Some shops don’t. It’s open and easy to get to things, and the workers are always nice. I love the new annex and that they now take debit cards too.”

Kitty Doughty, one of our hard-working volunteers who takes shifts in the Thrift Shop several times a month, said, “The customers are telling me that they really like the new displays and feel of the store. I keep taking more shifts because it is fun and I like the people. The shifts are just 4 hours and there is no pressure. I also love my volunteer discount.” Doughty is buying a jug to give her granddaughter for her college dorm room. “I think she is going to love this.”

We are proud to say that many of our staff members are habitual patrons of the Thrift Shop as well. Linda Crugnale is one of our Health Care Center nurses and explained why she frequents the store: “I love to shop, but what I really like is coming in to pick out things for the residents living in PC (personal care) that don’t have someone to shop for them. Some of them don’t have much, so I buy them something new on occasion. They are always thrilled. It’s a great store. I love it here.”

So who is responsible for all the fetching new touches? Lots of volunteers have helped, but much of the credit goes to our new store manager, Suzanne Brooke. She currently volunteers her time to keep the store running smoothly and has proven to be a great fit. “Many moons ago, I got my degree in retail and merchandise management. I also managed at Wanamaker’s. I feel like I am putting all that experience to use again. It’s been great for my mind, and I love being active and engaged. Sales have been good since the changes – that benefits everyone, and that’s what matters,” shared Brooke. We are grateful for Brooke’s creativity, leadership and guidance that have brought a fresh new feel to a hallmark of our campus.

Positively Planned
Care After His Heart Attack Helped Dennis Krauss See the Beauty of His Plan

by Barb Keller, Vice President of Marketing and Sales

Photo of Resident Dennis Krauss

Dennis Krauss put his plan to rely on Peter Becker Community to the test and discovers that his decision what the right one.

After suffering complications following a massive heart attack, Dennis Krauss knew that his decision to follow in the path of his in-laws was the right one. Peter Becker Community had been the home of Dr. and Mrs. Elwood Foltz, Krauss’ in-laws. His motivation for moving to a senior living community was the possibility that he might need special care at some point. That point had come.

Krauss, a resident of Peter Becker Community since 2011, has dedicated his life to being an active part of the community. After completing his college degree at Ursinus College, he received his Master’s in Education and Principal Certification from Lehigh University. His career included teaching (history and political science) and principalships at the high school level for more than 34 years. Career volunteering is also part of his story. He recently received awards including the Lions Club & Jaycees 55 Year Award and the Souderton Area Board of School Directors 2015 Lifetime Community Impact Award. He is often seen chatting with residents and guests in Seasons Café. “I plug this place pretty hard, I love living here.”

Just after his heart attack, he couldn’t do anything for himself let alone serve others. He needed to slow down, at least for a bit. It was tough and yet, what he will tell you is that he was amazed at what he encountered. “Everyone was outstanding in their caring attitude to do the right things. Residents and neighbors visited me all the time. It’s good to know that people care. I couldn’t be depressed because everything that was happening was so positive.”

After graduating from in-patient rehabilitation services, Krauss was able to return to his apartment with help from the in-home services of Bayada nursing. He was amazed at the number of community residents who visited and shared their health stories with him–they too were being able to return home and do everyday things.
Dennis will tell you that his life philosophy, is simply, “have a positive approach with everyone.” So he was thrilled to find that throughout his rehabilitation, continuity of care and return home, the staff shared that philosophy too.

Today he is back chatting about his positive experiences, playing bridge with his pals and is thrilled to share his recovery story. He’ll be the first one to tell you that he attributes his wellness to the physical and occupational therapy services he received at Peter Becker Community, combined with a staff where “everyone is outstanding.”

 

Appreciated for Her Dedicated Service
Molly Souder Retires

by Colleen Algeo, Communications Coordinator

Molly Souder (Far Left) is presented with a memorial plaque by Ruth Swingle, President of the Auxiliary, in honor of her 23 years of service to the Thrift Shop. L-R: Marge Janoski and Suzanne Owens look on.

Molly Souder (Far Left) is presented with a memorial plaque by Ruth Swingle, President of the Auxiliary, in honor of her 23 years of service to the Thrift Shop. L-R: Marge Janoski and Suzanne Owens look on.

She called it a ministry. She loved the customers and the deep friendships she discovered with fellow volunteers. She loved that what she was doing helped people, the environment and other non-profits. All these things Molly Souder found while volunteering at the Thrift Shop at Peter Becker Community. The sad news is that she is now retiring.

For 25 years, Souder has been a mainstay at the little shop. To provide some context, the net income during Souder’s service totaled $967,998.65. Yes, that’s nearly a million dollars. Each of those dollars (and cents) were put to work through the auxiliary to make life better for residents. Her attention to detail, spirited conversations and unrivaled dedication had customers nicknaming the store “Molly’s Boutique,” a name that Souder’s innate humility insists she shrug off. “I don’t need all that attention,” she told us, “I was here because I loved it.”

Ruth Swingle, Auxiliary President, received a similar response when she asked if she could recognize Souder in a community meeting. In the end, Souder acquiesced. To the delight of the residents who have worked with Souder, Swingle publicly thanked her for her efforts in the Thrift Shop. She also shared that Souder had served on the community’s board of directors from 1984 until she moved to PBC with her 100-year-old mother in 1992. Swingle summed up her comments by saying, “Quite frankly, there will never be another Molly.”

When asked why she is retiring, she told us, “There simply comes a time when places need fresh faces. I feel like that time has come. I have deeply appreciated working with Marge Janoski and all the processors and cashiers. They are dear friends. I have also made friends with many of the faithful customers through the years and I trust they will continue to shop here as new management takes over.”

Look for a new plaque recognizing the unbelievable dedication of nearly million dollar Molly Souder the next time you stop at the Thrift Shop.

Blooming into Life at Peter Becker Community
Meet Linda Kratz

Linda Kratz (left) is pictured leading the crafts at the 2016 Flower Show.

Linda Kratz (left) is pictured leading the crafts at the 2016 Flower Show.

It appears as if Linda Kratz dreamed her ideal retirement into life. She wanted a lot of the usual things like a place with good food, bright open rooms, a big kitchen and some extra storage. She also wanted opportunity. A place where she could express herself creatively, help others and continue volunteering in meaningful ways. “I’m a believer in the concept that when you do things for others you feel better yourself. Plus you get to do stuff you would never do for yourself.” She compared all the area communities and told us that Peter Becker Community was the clear winner in a number of ways. Her desire to live in a place that had all her wants checked off has paid off.

“I feel so blessed. My apartment has a beautiful view and lots of light. It was really important to me to have light. When I retired, I took painting classes at Generations Senior Center, and when I heard that the Flower Show is always in the market for artistic help, I knew I would be a good fit to volunteer,” noted Linda.

Linda Kratz has been coming to the Peter Becker Community’s Annual Flower Show for the last seven years. This year, after her move to the community in July, she took on a very important role in helping to lead the crafters, design a major exhibit and offer many artistic insights.

“She was a true gift to the Flower Show Gang this year,” noted Colleen Algeo, the show’s creative director. “Linda’s enthusiasm is contagious. Not only did she help, she spearheaded a new exhibit. The zinnia covered spruce tree at the entrance to the main exhibit was made possible because she was willing to organize, demonstrate, motivate and implement a colorful vision. She jumped right in without hesitation and had a great time doing it.”

One of the great things about the Peter Becker Flower Show is that it engages as many community members as possible. Over 2000 hours were given by the residents of the community to assemble the main exhibit. Many talents and energies are generously given to the project. According to Colleen, “If you want to be a part of it, we find a role for you and the results are always amazing.”