Why I Give

Stories from our donors

Building a Legacy

by Beverly Coller

(Pictured, Beverly and her husband, Bill Coller)

My connection to Liberty Lutheran began more than thirty years ago when I was approached by a fellow member of my church to join the board of Artman. It was a distinct time in the community’s history, long before Liberty was even an idea. Faced with uncertainty, we knew that we needed to head in a different direction to fulfill Artman’s legacy as a leading provider of compassionate care.

When we ultimately decided to change the leadership, we were lucky to find Luanne Fisher, now Liberty’s President and CEO, whose vision and expertise match perfectly with what we were looking for. Given the situation we found ourselves in, we set our eyes upon the benevolent care program, which has since made an impact for so many individuals and families.

Over time I’ve maintained my connection with Artman and Liberty, not just having served on boards for our communities and services, but also having my mother as a resident at Artman.

I was very fortunate to have a great relationship with my mother. Even when I was an adult, we shared a house for many years. When she became older, my role as her daughter was joined with a new role as a caregiver.

Eventually, when she was 93, I came to the realization that she needed more than I could provide alone. I knew that Artman was the best place for her.

When I would visit, I could see that she was content and in a place that looked after her physical, mental, and social wellbeing. Having seen that first-hand, I am even more fulfilled by knowing that Liberty exists and extends that standard of care to all its communities.

As a faith-based organization with Lutheran roots, Liberty Lutheran follows a call to be charitable. Benevolent care remains a key.

Within the senior care industry, there is no requirement for benevolent care, which is what makes Liberty’s mission to carry a charitable message in our hearts so important.

For some older adults, aging comes with the unfortunate instance of outliving their resources. This causes uncertainty, anxiety, and fear. The prospect of having to leave their community because they can longer make payments is a very real threat.

I give to Liberty Lutheran because I know that this does not apply within their communities. Residents enjoy the safety and security of knowing they can remain in their homes.

This is a legacy that my husband and I are proud to support as donors and as volunteers.

We have seen the impact that Liberty Lutheran makes as an organization, and how Liberty’s philosophy to fulfill a legacy of compassionate care and empowerment is lived out in the people who work within the organization.

I give to sustain that legacy, which is emboldened by a commitment to ensure that those facing uncertainties receive relief in the knowledge that they are cared for.

Meet David Stettler

For the past several years, I have been very fortunate to serve on Liberty Lutheran’s board and on several of its committees. My involvement with Liberty as a donor is based on my first-hand experience, particularly with Artman and Liberty Hospice.

As my parents entered their later years, it became clear that their needs required an increased amount of support. They were always very independent, but with my mother’s declining health and my father suffering a knee injury, we began to look for a community that could meet their needs and provide the comforts of home.

The initial visit to Artman with my parents was unique. It demonstrated the extent to which compassion and care are a hallmark of Liberty’s family of services.

As we traveled to the community, my mother experienced a minor seizure. After a few minutes she recovered and my parents insisted we continue the journey.

When we arrived we explained what happened. Although she wasn’t a resident, the caregivers immediately met and examined her to see if there were any obvious signs of distress that needed to be addressed.

This experience left a lasting impression on me. It was a demonstration of the kind of caring support my parents would receive on a daily basis. They were both quickly won over by everything and everyone.

The care my parents received was a blessing. Following my mother’s passing, my father received a tremendous amount of support. He really enjoyed being at Artman. When I think back, I can’t help smiling at some of my father’s experiences.

One of his favorite activities was bingo. At Artman the residents played for a quarter during each game. He must have been very good or very lucky, because there would be times I’d visit him or pick him up and he would have a large plastic bag full of quarters. He’d always have a smile on his face and tell me to pass the bag along to my daughter for the college laundry.

There was always plenty for Dad to do in the community and during their community outings. To this day I still have pictures of him during a trip to the shore, and another of him feeding a baby bird. These photos were taken for family members by Artman’s staff, which to me demonstrates the care and consideration they extend to everyone.

Later, during his final days, Dad was placed on hospice. Staff and residents alike would stream in to visit him. You could tell they cared. Most importantly, the comfort and dignity he received from Liberty Hospice was moving.

I give to Liberty because I know the impact its family of services makes – not just for residents, clients, and members, but for the families who place their trust in our communities.

Meet Caroline Willms
Paul's Run

Caroline Willms, a resident of Paul’s Run for 14 years, has lived a life of serving and giving to others. From teaching 3rd, 4th and 5th graders in Northeast Philadelphia, to volunteering with her church and the Philadelphia Zoo, she has inspired others to learn and grow.

As an active member of her church, Caroline has held every lay position except Treasurer, sang in the choir and played bells. She makes quilts for those in need and supports Feast of Justice, the second largest food bank in Philadelphia.

It’s no surprise that today she’s a driving force behind many activities and initiatives at Paul’s Run.

 Caroline’s giving spirit is rooted in her faith and the example set by her parents. Having grown up during the Great Depression, she remembers that even when her father lost his job they never stopped tithing. Caroline’s parents even gave her five cents to contribute during Sunday school.

“We attended Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Mayfair. The Depression was hard on people in the community, but it taught me to rely on my faith and that we should be generous in our support for one another,” Caroline shares. “Christ gave his life for us; there’s nothing we can give by comparison. Giving and sharing with others is a good start.”

From 2007 - 2016, Caroline was president of The Friends of Paul’s Run which helps enhance community life for all residents. Now, as president of the Paul’s Run Resident Council, Caroline continues to be one of the most active members of the community.

“I try to take advantage of opportunities that come up. There are some that I do regularly,” Caroline says. “I usually work in the General Store every Wednesday, and I run the jewelry sale at the Annual Bazaar.”

Never missing an opportunity to give back, Caroline has named Paul’s Run in her will and as one of the beneficiaries of her annuities. “Near and dear to my heart is the Paul’s Run Fellowship Fund, which helps residents who have exhausted their resources. I find purpose and meaning in supporting this fund, knowing that my good fortune in life will help a neighbor in need."

Meet John and Jan MacChesney
The Village at Penn State

John and Jan MacChesney, residents of The Village at Penn State since 2014, have made a tremendous impact on their community. Thanks to their kind generosity, The Village’s Pride of Our Life campaign took an important step forward with the couple’s generous commitment through an estate gift.

“The staff at The Village have been very good to us. We’ve made many great friends here, and we’re pleased to be able to leave a legacy that ensures The Village will have a special space in a new community room that can accommodate everyone here,” John said. “We see the community room as a place for meaningful social times, bonding stronger friendships amongst all the residents. With a larger space for activities and events, residents will have access to boundless entertainment and fun.”

Having earned a PhD in Geochemistry from Penn State University in 1959, John worked for Bell Labs in New Jersey, where the couple also owned a Christmas tree farm. Jan taught elementary school for 31 years. Throughout their marriage John and Jan traveled through Europe, for business and leisure, where they enjoyed meeting new people and experiencing new cultures. With each trip they were thrilled by warm welcomes, which were replicated on their first visit to The Village.

“When we first visited The Village we were considering a move to Princeton. We quickly changed our minds because of The Village’s beautiful cottages, and the wonderful reception we received. We were thrilled to learn about the many great activities and active lifestyle The Village offers,” Jan shared.

Together, John and Jan continue to enjoy activities they pursued prior to their retirement, such as exercise classes, attending lectures, playing bridge, and attending cocktail parties and The Villages’ Romeo and Juliet lunches. The pair also appreciates The Village’s proximity to State College’s vibrant downtown.

“We enjoyed the four years we spent in State College, when John was earning his PhD. We remember those times fondly. The town has become even more spectacular, and The Village has a strong connection with the surrounding area. It’s great to be a part of that,” Jan added.

The Pride of Our Life campaign raised funds for The Village to support a new Personal Care building, a community room and a connector hallway to bridge the main residence to its Atrium for healthcare residence, a new grand entryway, and new garden features. John and Jan’s estate pledge, along with many contributions from other residents, brings the campaign total to $3 million. Construction of the new community room is expected to be completed by the spring of 2018.

Meet Betty Scott and Chick King
The Village at Penn State

In 2010, Chick and Nancy, his wife of 50 years, were considering retirement communities in the Philadelphia area. The Village at Penn State wasn’t even on their radar until a friend encouraged them to tour the community.

When they visited, Chick and Nancy were impressed that the cottages, amenities and location offered all they would want. But what sealed the deal for them was dinner with residents Hope and Ron Coder. “I’ll bet Ron convinced more people to come to The Village than anyone else,” jokes Chick.

Several months later, Chick and Nancy made The Village their home and became active in resident life. They enjoyed sixteen months at The Village before Nancy passed away. Chick found a great deal of support and comfort from his new friends at The Village.

He also found support from a lifetime friend, Betty Scott. Five years before, Betty had lost her husband, Russ, a fraternity brother of Chick’s from their days as college students at Penn State. The two couples had spent time together over the years, taking trips, skiing and hiking.

Though Chick and Betty had already known each other for more than 50 years, they’ve only been partners since 2012. It was at that time that Chick invited Betty to join him at a Penn State Football game and the rest is history! 

Together Chick and Betty have enjoyed making the most out of life at The Village. When asked what makes The Village special, Chick and Betty say that they feel it’s a warm, beautiful, caring home with a huge, loving family of friends.

Spending time with friends is important to them. Cocktails in the Cub Lounge and dining in the main dining room are a highlight of every day. Activities and events provide boundless entertainment and fun they share with each other and with friends.

Chick and Betty cherish their life at The Village and are devoted to its continued improvement. “Like many residents, we were thrilled to learn that Liberty was committed to adding new spaces that would enhance community life. What was particularly exciting was that Liberty listened to residents and prioritized projects based on what mattered most to us.”

Chick and Betty also point out that Liberty not only listened, they also invited residents to participate in planning, such as collaborating with landscapers to choose plants and trees indigenous to the area, and meeting with designers to select finishes and furnishings for the new construction.

The dynamic new spaces being added to The Village have inspired Chick and Betty to invest in this very special place they live. “We have made a home together at The Village, and our gift to support the new community room will deepen fellowship and enrichment opportunities for everyone. The people make The Village a wonderful home because it reflects the collective personalities of everyone here.”

Meet Jim and Mary Jane Brenneman

Liberty Lutheran is blessed to have Jim and Mary Jane Brenneman as generous and long-time friends. Both grew up in families that nurtured a spirit of giving—whether through service or philanthropy.

“Mom and Dad certainly didn’t have an overabundance of free time or resources when I was young, but I regularly heard them say how blessed their lives had been and how important it was to give back to God through their church and to worthy organizations whose mission it is to improve the quality of life for others,” lovingly remembers Jim.

As residents of Ambler for 46 years, Jim and Mary Jane have actively sought out and supported various Lutheran charities in the area. Early on as Ambler residents, Artman was definitely on their radar because many of their friends from Christ’s Lutheran Church in Oreland, PA were engaged with Artman in some way—either through family who lived there or through volunteer service.

Yet, it was a serendipitous twist of events between Jim and a long-lost childhood friend that inspired the Brennemans to become deeply involved in Artman and Liberty Lutheran both as donors and volunteers.

That friend, Russell (Russ) Long, was someone who grew up in the same York, PA Lutheran church as Jim. Together the two attended vacation bible school and enjoyed playing ball. Yet, as is the case with many people, the boys lost touch as they grew older. Jim entered the telecommunications industry and Russ became a Lutheran pastor—although Jim never stopped wondering in what state and synod his friend had ultimately settled.

One day in the mid-1990s Jim found his answer when he learned that Russ was actually nearby and at that time serving as Director of Development for Liberty’s Artman senior living community. Not only did the two men joyfully re-connect, but Russ offered Jim and Mary Jane the opportunity to more intimately learn about Artman’s many critical services and the way they enrich life for elders.

Ever since that happy re-acquaintance, Jim and Mary Jane have continued to support Artman and Liberty Lutheran in so many thoughtful and generous ways—from Mary Jane offering companionship to an Artman resident, to Jim volunteering his talents to serve on several Liberty Lutheran committees. Together as a couple they have established long-term gifts to help Artman sustain its century-long tradition of compassionate care and service for older adults.

“We saw very early on in our lives the value of nonprofit organizations and have understood how they are dependent upon the generous giving of other people to be able to succeed. Thus, we find it very meaningful to participate in annual giving, capital campaigns, and planned giving in order to support the necessary, wonderful services that Liberty provides,” says Jim.

It has been very fulfilling for Jim and Mary Jane to actually see the differences they’ve been able to make—especially for those individuals who need rehabilitative care. The couple has made a very generous contribution to support the construction of Artman’s new short-term rehabilitation facility.

Together with the kind and generous caring communities of people who support the Liberty Lutheran family of services, Mary Jane and Jim cherish the opportunity to help foster vital initiatives that help older adults age successfully, maintain health, nurture inspiration, build resiliency, and renew hope. “Every gift—whether time, skills, or financial resources—and whatever the size—adds cumulative value and makes a difference,” says Jim.

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