In my 19 years at the helm of Londonderry Village, we have certainly had our shares of ups and downs. In 2005 through 2008, the Village experienced the joy of bringing our first four Green Houses online, as well as immersing ourselves in the culture of person-centered caregiving that was part and parcel of the Green House philosophy. In the years following that era, the financial downturn of the “Great Recession” rained on our parade of expanding onto the south campus. In 2013, our biggest loss when beloved Chaplain Norm Yeater perished in a car accident. In 2020, the pandemic struck, and by 2022 we were starting to recover from the pandemic and move forward again. Ups and downs. That is just the way life is.
This month I want to discuss two recent developments. The first is our second attempt to expand onto the south campus. For the past two years we have been struggling to get the land development approvals needed to move forward with our Fox Run expansion. On Monday, March the 20th, we finally crossed that finish line with both the County, North Londonderry Township, and with the Conservation District. We are fully engaged with our General Contractor, Arthur Funk and Sons, to start the project in earnest, and we should all see the dust clouds of construction very soon!! My personal thanks to both Francis Glynn and Tyler Weaber for holding everything together and moving that approval process forward to its successful conclusion.
The last development is the upcoming retirement of our Chaplain, Mary Eller. I am sure Mary would not allow me to classify this occasion as a “down” moment, but I think a moment of temporary sadness is in order. Mary came to us in November of 2014, a little more than a year after the tragic death of Norm Yeater, and following the interim one-year chaplaincy of Reverend Audrey Finkbinder. Mary Eller had a fine pedigree as both an ordained clergy person in the Church of the Brethren, as well as a lengthy family involvement in the Lebanon Valley Brethren Home. We all quickly became familiar with Mary’s spiritual gifts for teaching, counseling, preaching, and singing, and for her talent in recruiting her husband (Reverend Enten Eller) to become involved in our worship services and special events. During the early days of the pandemic, Mary became the “voice” of Londonderry Village with her daily devotions and announcements made over our closed circuit TV system.
What I admired most about Mary, however, was her gift of presence for folks who were going through difficult times. She was here at all hours of the night sitting vigil with families and residents facing their terminal moments, holding hands with staff members whose worlds were falling apart, and always embodying and communicating the love of Jesus Christ for all of us. You cannot do any better than that as a chaplain. Best wishes, Mary, for your retirement starting May the 1st!