This Spring is a season of new beginnings, a season of hope, and a season of joy. With the COVID pandemic continuing to wane, life begins anew. We’re enjoying longer hours of daylight and the warmer temperatures. We’re meeting friends again, enjoying restaurants, our families, planning vacations, and adjusting to our “new normal.” Pine Run Villagers and Associates are excited by the possibilities! Villagers are hard at work once again booking trips to places as varied as the Barnes Museum and the Steel Stacks in Bethlehem. Movie night is back, Village Voices are singing, lifelong learning classes are underway, artists are gathering in the Craft Barn, dining options are expanding, Villagers are back to volunteering in the Health Center, Doylestown Hospital, and many other area nonprofits, and fitness programs are more popular than ever. For some of you it may be time to think about a move. We’ve received a lot of questions over the past several months about life at Pine Run during COVID. What happened? How did you keep your Villagers and residents safe but also keep their spirits up? Would I have benefitted by bring a part of this community during our darkest of lockdown days? And what is next?
As we celebrate a bright future together, we wanted to pause for a moment to look back – to acknowledge every single Resident, Associate, family member, community member, and friend who made our campuses thrive over the past several years. Pine Run has emerged from the pandemic stronger and more vital than ever. We hope you’ll consider becoming a part of this amazing community and celebrate our accomplishments with us as we turn our faces to the sun.
It’s been just about two years since the world learned of this new deadly virus and it has been a challenge to keep all of our Villagers and Residents engaged and involved, no matter where they resided in our continuum. Just when we thought things were improving, variants of the virus kept us on our toes. In true Pine Run fashion, we accepted the challenge of ever changing new guidelines, mask mandates, and social distancing, and adjusted in the same manner we have always done, TEAMWORK. At the direction of our Executive Director, Maria Santangelo, we were all tasked with thinking outside the box, and outside our buildings. How could we continue to provide support to those we serve, spiritually, emotionally, and physically with the limitations caused by the pandemic?
In Independent Living alone, we have Villagers ranging in age from 102 to 67. Currently, we have four Villagers over the age of 100, who remain independent, with no additional support services required. During COVID, we not only met the challenge, but according to the Villagers, we exceeded their expectations. One of our Villagers described life at Pine Run as being on a cruise ship that never docks. We recognize not all of our Residents and Villagers want, or can keep up with that pace, so we made sure we offered something for everyone.
Early on, in-person fitness classes were on hold, and classes were offered on our in-house channel. Wellness sheets and at-home exercise guides were distributed. Wellness literature was also distributed, covering topics such as; Breath work, the respiratory system, immune system, and lymphatic system. Although when we were able to return to in-person classes, we found some Villagers enjoyed the option of exercising in their pajamas, so those in-house channel classes are still available. A robust aquatic program was added. 115 Villagers are actively using our pool. The focus is a multi-level aquatic environment that enhances the wellness of our Villagers.
Aquatic cross training is our primary class. This class combines strength, cardiovascular and core elements, and is adaptable to all levels. Aqua Yoga, water walking, lap swimming, balance training, and let us not forget water volleyball. Laughter and friendly shouting at team members can be clearly heard from the parking lot during the very competitive class. In addition, pool time is also available to our residents who reside in the Garden, our Memory Care Neighborhood. The smiles on their faces are priceless as they relax and float in the pool.
COVID brought us outside to connect with nature with our walks around campus and outdoor fitness classes. There is something to be said about moving around in nature that naturally de-stresses the body and mind. To engage others, a Writing Club was created. Villagers receive writing prompts and shared their stories weekly. A poetry contest was held, and Villagers who never wrote a poem before, found themselves overflowing with creativity. Arts and Crafts in the Upper Craft Barn took off after being dormant pre-COVID. Villagers found a need to find purpose and an outlet to prevent boredom, isolation, and depression.
The Pine Run Good Bears “gave birth” to their 25,000th bear. To date, the group has donated 25,690 bears. Most of them went to the children in the emergency room at Doylestown Hospital. Recently, we started donating to other places, including the VIAA’s Maternity Coalition, St Christopher’s pediatric surgery center, and Twilight Wish Foundation. When the tornado destroyed the roof of Children’s Village at the hospital, we sent 140 bears. Our Chaplain Leah regularly takes them to Villagers who are admitted to Doylestown Hospital. We also shared them with the Garden Residents at the Health Center. Since January 1st of this year, we have donated 289 bears to various places. There are currently 21 women on the committee. Many of them work at home as well as meeting weekly in the Upper Craft Barn.
The Military Order of Pine Run also returned to campus after being dormant pre-COVID. We have on average 80 veterans who live or work at Pine Run. The need to support one another over the past year was clear and many of them banded together planning and creating the Never Forget Garden in honor of the 100th Anniversary of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The creation of Never Forget Gardens is a nation-wide project, overseen by the Society of Honor Guards, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Villager Tom Barnett, who was a Guard at the Tomb, Chaired the committee, and the Never Forget Garden, was officially dedicated during our annual Veterans Day breakfast on November 11th .
The Farmette brought their rescued donkeys to our campus, who went door to door, reaching Villagers who struggled with coming out during COVID. The joy they brought was felt for days and additional visits were scheduled. Our ladies of the Creative Needlework Group are currently knitting winter caps for the donkeys!
Pets are a big part of life at Pine Run, and the Blessing of the Animals took place outside on our shuffleboard court in October. For those unable to come in person, in-home blessings were arranged.
Activity in our Craft Barn continues to increase. Villager Lou Metzger finished building his kayak, which was launched on the pond. Fellow Villagers and Associates watched from the deck area as Lou paddled across the pond.
To encourage Villagers to “play outside”, the men of the Wood Shop made a large scale Jenga set, as well as two Corn Hole sets. Corn Hole was a team sport during our recent Villager Games and competition was fierce. Because of the large number of Villagers participating, and in the interest of time, we suggested the win go to the first team to score 11 points, and we moved the holes closer together. The Villagers were not having it and insisted they play to 21 and the holes be placed at the official distance. Three hours later, Gold, Silver, and Bronze medal winners were announced!
Cook-Alongs with Chef Doug were a huge hit. Villagers could cook a meal along with Chef Doug on our in-house channel. All the ingredients were delivered to their door. Villagers were encourage to invite a neighbor or two to join them for dinner, socially distanced of course, and take pictures to share their meal prep success. Our dining services partner, Flik International held a Gingerbread House contest and Pine Run Community won 1st and 2nd place thanks to Dave Fogel and Sharon Smith, our Dining Services Directors at Pine Run Retirement Community and Pine Run Lakeview. The houses were on display during the holidays to bring some sense of normalcy and holiday cheer to our campuses.
Visitation was another challenge we met head on and did our best to keep our Residents connected to their families whenever, and however possible. In the early days of the pandemic, Residents were brought to windows, or a Plexiglas booth was used for “in person” visits. When the weather cooperated, outside patio visits were offered. Just being able to see each other’s faces was so uplifting. Birthdays, and wedding anniversaries did not go by unnoticed. Music in the parking lot got everyone outside to dance away the boredom and get the body moving to the beat. All levels of living enjoyed the music of Joey and Keith, local musicians who played parking lot concerts for all to enjoy. The School of Rock from Doylestown also paid us a visit to share their talents.
These examples are those we have photos to share, but there are countless more examples. Pine Run campuses remain active and engaged as we continue to evaluate the needs of those we care for despite the challenges of COVID-19. We are all PINE RUN PROUD of the roads we have travelled these past two years and excited to share a new beginning.