A Cultural Journey – Eden Alternative®

By Rev. Tim Reichard, director of pastoral care, Masonic Village at SewickleySturgeon Health Care Center

The director team at the Masonic Village at Sewickley started the Eden Alternative® journey in 2008, when we met to prepare for the cultural changes to come, and were certified as an Eden facility in 2010. Implementing the Eden Alternative® has brought significant changes in how we provide care to residents and families.

Empowering Staff and Residents

Eden isn’t something that’s “once and done.” It inspires the daily life of how care is provided in the community. It influences all aspects of resident care, from food service to nursing care, from spiritual care to activities, from facility management to human resources. It has united all the departments together with a shared focus of providing the highest quality of care and addresses the three plagues that affect aging residents in long-term care facilities: boredom, helplessness, and loneliness.

Residents provide input into the care they receive through resident council meeting. Activities include: daily neighborhood programs; outings to theater, baseball, dining, fishing, and bowling; music therapy; weekly Catholic Mass and Protestant worship; pet therapy; and more. Food service provides residents with 18 menu choices, à la carte breakfast and flexible dining schedules. Eden culture change also has significantly impacted how medical care is delivered. There are multiple bathing options (shower, spa, etc.), medication serveries in rooms, permanent staff assignments that help build relationships, and electronic medical records documentation, just to name a few.

Eden is about paying attention to the little things that are important to residents. We recently purchased iPads so residents can have “face-time” with their families. One resident was able to speak with her son and his family in Singapore, and it was the first time she’s ever seen several of her grandchildren. It’s also about relationships. One of the housekeepers knew a resident was in the process of dying and came in on her off hours to sit with the resident.

The New Sturgeon Health Care Center – Eden by Design

Recently, we completed a major renovation of the Sturgeon Health Care Center, doubling the square footage without increasing the number of beds. The care center is divided into eight neighborhoods, each having their own care bases, lounge, and dining areas. Sixteen residents comprise a neighborhood.  This renovation has made the center more “home-like” with beautiful exterior surroundings and internal areas that are aesthetically pleasing. All of the rooms are private; however, shared-private rooms only share a bathroom. Residents can decorate their room to suit their tastes.

(Check out the summer issue of the Village Voice for more information about the new Sturgeon Health Care Center.)

We are excited about the changes that have come with implementing the Eden Alternative® philosophy of care and are committed to providing even better care as our Mission of Love continues.

Life Lessons from a Fruit Farmer’s Daughter – Part 2

Farmer Tad and his daughter, Leah

Tad and his daughter, Leah

Over the last two semesters in college, I have shared my childhood stories and lessons with many of my peers, and decided to compile a list of the top 35 lessons I have learned growing up as a farmer’s daughter, granddaughter and great-granddaughter. I could go on for pages, but here are the final 20 items I think are the most important:

  1. Anyone who likes Red Delicious apples has never eaten a good apple.
  2. If you ask someone what kind of apple they want and they respond with “the red one,” they are from a city and need saving.
  3. If the bug isn’t biting or stinging you, let it be.
  4. It is okay to talk to the fruit as long as the fruit doesn’t talk back.
  5. Sleeping in means waking up at 7 a.m.
  6. Every job is harder and more intricate than it appears. Follow a farmer around for a day (which is 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. some days), and tell me how easy it is.
  7. To this day, I can spend a day – sunrise to sunset – trying to catch just one of the many kittens in the bin barn and be happy.
  8. Why is bathing in a creek so weird?
  9. I know which branches to pick when climbing a tree, and I know when my city friend is about to fall out of the tree. Shouldn’t have picked that one!
  10. My friends at school always ask me why the houses around here don’t touch. Should they be touching?
  11. Everything can be fixed with WD-40 and/or duct tape.
  12. Some people have weekends off?
  13. There are always two valid sides to the story. Listen to both even if you don’t agree with what they are saying.
  14. A farmer is on call 24/7, so don’t complain about that one weekend a month.
  15. The water coming out of my garden hose is definitely cleaner than the ice in a fast food restaurant.
  16. If you don’t want to eat what is for dinner, then you’re obviously not that hungry.
  17. Irrigation sprinklers are way more fun to run through than that plastic thing you bought at the store.
  18. Our pumpkin patch has areas where there are 10 plants on top of each other. My Bad.
  19. Life isn’t fair. The sooner you realize that and move on, the happier you’ll be.
  20. This planet is awesome, and it is our job to keep it that way.

-“Mini Tad”

Visit the store for a harvest schedule, or check us out on Facebook for the most up-to-date harvest information.


Life Lessons from a Fruit Farmer’s Daughter – Part 1

Farmer Tad and his daughter, Leah

Tad and his daughter, Leah

For most farmers, July is an extremely busy month. For that reason, Farmer Tad asked me (his oldest daughter) to write this segment. I recently finished my first year of college, and one thing that has become quite apparent to me is how different my upbringing was than many of my friends. For example, they were confused when I was excited for strawberry season. Apparently it’s always strawberry season at the grocery store.

Here are some of the life lessons I’ve learned from being a fruit farmer’s daughter:

  1. Clean dirt is not the same as dirty dirt. Money is covered in dirty dirt. The mud ground into working hands after cultivating pumpkins is clean dirt and a sign of a productive day.
  2. Hard work always leads to success, even if it isn’t the success you had imagined.
  3. Kids don’t need fancy toys and phones to have fun growing up. Playing outside and using your imagination provides unlimited hours of fun.
  4. I can read a weather radar map better than most of the meteorologists on the news, and if it is storming, I will tell everyone what is happening (based off the 12 weather websites I have on my electronic devices).
  5. Every kind of manure smells different.
  6. Leaves of three, let it be.
  7. Hay and straw are not the same thing. (Animals eat hay; they sleep on straw.)
  8. Every animal you find is a pet and deserves to be treated well.
  9. You always respect your elders, no matter how much you may disagree.
  10. You never spend a nice day inside, because you’ll definitely spend an ugly day outside.
  11. Possums can be pets too.
  12. Work ethic and dedication aren’t just important when you’re being paid or when someone is watching.
  13. If you’re early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late.
  14. I can describe all 52 varieties of apples we grow. I mean 53. 54?
  15. I don’t know what that thing is you bought at the grocery store, but it is definitely not a peach.

Look for part two of my list next week!

-“Mini Tad”

Visit the store for a harvest schedule, or check us out on Facebook for the most up-to-date harvest information.


Charitable Giving News

By Alvin H. Blitz, Esq., chief gift planning officer, Masonic Charities

 The On-again Off-again IRA Gift 123087362

Our friendly folks in Washington are now considering resurrecting the IRA Charitable Rollover again. This tax provision permits an IRA owner who is age 70 1/2 or older generally to exclude from gross income up to $100,000 per year in distributions made directly from the IRA to certain public charities, which includes any of the Masonic Charities. The proposal being advanced by the Senate Finance Committee would be effective for all of 2013 and 2014.

Since the distribution given to charity is never included in income, it is especially attractive for individuals that do not itemize their deductions or have sufficient income that they do not need to use their required minimum distribution from their IRA. Furthermore, on May 28, the House Ways and Means Committee approved a similar provision to make the extension permanent. Passage of either of these provisions by Congress will probably not occur until after the November elections.

Masonic Charities’ gift planners will be monitoring these provisions throughout the year.

Estate Planning – Inheritance Tax

For Pennsylvania residents, the inheritance tax has few exemptions, and it taxes almost all assets held at death except those assets held jointly between a husband and wife and life insurance proceeds. The rates for Pennsylvania inheritance tax are as follows:

  • 0 percent on transfers to a surviving spouse or to a parent from a child aged 21 or younger;
  • 4.5 percent on transfers to direct descendants and lineal heirs;
  • 12 percent on transfers to siblings; and
  • 15 percent on transfers to other heirs, except charitable organizations and tax exempt institutions and government entities.

Remember to update your estate plan regularly, especially if you have moved to another state or have experienced a significant family event, such as a death in the family. If you live in a state other than Pennsylvania, please check with your attorney, or Masonic Charities’ gift planners would be glad to provide information on your state’s inheritance or estate tax law.

If you would like to receive any future notifications on the enactment of proposed legislation or any other charitable giving updates, please contact the Masonic Charities’ Office of Gift Planning by visiting www.masoniccharitiespa.org.

Peachy Keen Facts to Prepare You for the Season

114319190peachesPeaches, nectarines and apricots will soon be available, so let’s clear up some peach confusion so you can make the perfect purchases for your family this summer.

Clingstone Peaches - These peaches are the earliest to be available, and the flesh of the peach “clings” to the pit in the center.

Freestone Peaches - These peaches are available later in the season, and the flesh of these peaches can be pulled away from the pit relatively easily. Peaches will become easier to remove from the pit as the summer progresses.

White vs. Yellow Peaches - We generally have both white and yellow peaches to choose from in the market. Yellow peaches are the classic fruit with a distinct peach flavor. White peaches are lower in acidity. They’re a sweeter fruit which is easier on the stomach but doesn’t have quite as much of that distinctive peach flavor.

Donut Peaches - The truth is, we only grow these oddly shaped fruits to watch the expressions of our customers when they see them! While they look strange, donut peaches have a smoother consistency than a normal peach, and are a favorite among our customers who’ve tried them.

Visit the Masonic Village Farm Market for a full peach harvest schedule, or check us out on Facebook for the most up-to-date harvest information.


How a Cool Spring Impacts the Food You Eat

strawberries and cherries in and around a white bowlAs you are probably aware, the spring weather has been cooler this year than it has for many years. The tree fruit crops are ripening about two weeks later than last season because of a late bloom, and the vegetable crops couldn’t be seeded until later than normal because of the cold, spring soil. It will be a year to be patient when waiting for your favorite fruit or vegetable. If you want to be sure you don’t miss your favorite fruit or vegetable, like us on Facebook. I do updates from my phone as we are harvesting in the field or as we unload the produce from the truck.

The local strawberry season was short. When the berries were blooming, we had a nighttime low of 27 degrees. This cold temperature froze or damaged many of the flowers causing the berries to be smaller and less abundant. I will be bringing berries in from a farm in Sunbury followed by a farm in New York State. My goal each season is to have great tasting berries from the northeast for most of May and the whole month of June, but this season may be a challenge.

The tart cherry outlook is even bleaker. The cherries were blooming during that same cold night time period, and I am estimating that we may have less than 200 quarts to harvest (we normally harvest about 4000 quarts). I’ve talked to five other cherry growers in Lancaster and Adams Counties, and they are all in the same boat with a light cherry crop. For some reason, knowing all of us as fruit growers have the same issue makes me feel better. I guess misery really does love company.

The sweet cherries look a little better, but they are not as plentiful as normal, so they will probably be pricey. Whenever the crop is light, it takes the pickers a long time to pick a quart. The whole time they are climbing around the tree searching for cherries, they are getting paid. Unfortunately that cost gets passed on to you, the consumer.

Now for some good news! The peach and apple trees bloomed after the cold frosty night that did the damage to the strawberries and cherries, so they survived, and as of now, the crop looks good. I say “as of now” because in this business, you don’t count on anything until it’s harvested and in the market. One bad thunderstorm this summer with wind and/or hail, an insect outbreak, or a fungi outbreak can change things in a hurry.

The Not-So-Lazy Days of Summer

By Donna Culbertson, administrative assistant, Masonic Children’s Homekids racing

Summer is officially here, which means our staff need to come up with activities for their boys and girls to keep busy. Many of our house parents are creative when it comes to planning activities.

They organize competitive sporting events like kick ball, bean bag toss and baseball to name a few. A volleyball net is set up during the summer months for the children to enjoy a challenging game with staff or peers. Our basketball courts are always available, and they are used by everyone. When you visit our campus, you will also see boys and girls riding bikes, skateboarding, roller blading, jumping rope, swinging on swings and playing all sorts of outdoor games.

Visiting the local parks and getting their feet wet in the creek looking for crayfish is one activity the boys enjoy, while others like taking a bike ride on campus and visiting the Farm Market.

A scavenger hunt was organized by our social worker that taught our youth some history about the Masonic Village campus, while also encouraging physical activity. They walked the entire campus to locate various landmarks and clues to answer the questions they were given.

A camp fire pit was just installed this year, and the children enjoy evenings around the fire toasting marshmallows and making s’mores. Many of our children have said this is one of their favorite things to do with their friends and staff. They enjoy the relaxing atmosphere and getting to know one another.

Our youth like reading over the summer, attending various camps that stretch their imagination, volunteering their time, working at various businesses and playing organized sports. Some kids are also learning to garden with Mr. Tarman, a resident of Masonic Village at Elizabethtown.

We are looking forward to a day trip to the beach in August, a visit to Hersheypark, Barnstormer’s and Phillies baseball games, and a trip floating down the Juniata River. These events are all due to the generous support of our donors.

Summer is an exciting time at the children’s home – full of new adventures and experiences. Let the fun begin!


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