Friday, December 19, 2014


Last month, as part of our Firm’s 60th anniversary, we had a volunteer day at one of our Client’s community.  We, along with staff from Landis Homes, set up over 1000 luminaries along one of their walking paths, in conjunction with their 50th anniversary. Each lit luminary represented a gift or tribute to a loved one.  It was fun, although damp and cold, to give a little back to a Client that is certainly great to work with.

Some of the team.
The goal of the luminaries, aside from looking pretty cool, was to have a walk event for the residents.  Those who could manage under their own power (or the power of their electric scooter) were welcome to walk at their own pace.  For those who needed assistance, our staff was also there to help push residents in wheelchairs along the walk.

It took a couple hours for about 20 to 30 people to set the luminaries.  Some of us took the bags and set them up at about 10 foot increments, others filled pallets of bags with gravel and LED candles, prior to having them driven close to where they were to placed.  The entire walk started at the first building we did with Landis Homes and wound around campus in close proximity to eight other buildings we worked on.  We didn't pick the route but I thought it was pretty appropriate.  I was personally involved in the projects of all but the first one.

It was still light out when we finished, but we could tell it was going to look pretty awesome.  We had an hour between set up and the resident walk so we had dinner in the little café at the community.  It was part of the first project was involved with as project architect with Landis Homes in 2000.  It was nice to sit with about a dozen other people from our staff knowing exactly how that café came to be.  I feel like that project was the one where I really became an architect, kind of like when Neo could “see” the Matrix.  I felt like a came into my own during that experience.  Again, I didn't plan the event, but it felt like serendipity.

A view back towards the skilled care across the pond.
As we were rounded up with some Landis Home staff and other volunteers, we walked to Personal Care in order to be paired with a resident in a wheel chair.  The residents were a delight.  I loved my resident, Alta.  She could not have been more appreciative.  And my co-worker Susie apparently made plans to invite her resident over when she planted her garden in the spring.  It was just splendid.

I had yet another moment déjà vu when we started out in a very long and slow conga line towards the beginning of the walk outside.  We went through Personal Care and into Skilled Care where my Grandmother, Helen, had been a resident until her death in 2010.  She had entered Landis Homes for rehabilitation and never left as she was lucky enough to enter the memory care wing immediately after her recovery.  We reenacted a path I had walked several years back, pushing Helen from her room to Rehab.  It brought back a lot of memories for me.  Again, I had no idea we would go out this way, but we did.  Rehab was also part of my first project there.

The biggest learning experience was just how long it took to get a dozen people in wheelchairs and walk them somewhere, as well as needing to utilize an elevator.  I now definitely believe that at least two elevators should be provided in each unit, because it took about 30 minutes to go up one level with our fairly small group.  It doesn't help that, with only one elevator, the elevator is often held open on hold by those intending to return to it right away!

Floating on the Pond!
Once outside we first got to see all of the luminaries as they were intended to be viewed – all lit up at night.  It was really impressive.  The lights did a figure eight around to ponds and created layers of the flickering lights, reflected again in the water.  Additionally, the staff had figured out how to float them ON the water, which I didn’t realize until that moment.  The walk seemed to go by very quickly, but all the residents seemed to have a great time.  We returned to the building, stopped off to have some hot chocolate and sing some songs in the living room, and returned our “dates” for the evening to their doorstep.

Close Up - paper plates under the bags to keep them dry!

It was just a really fulfilling experience to help out for an evening for a really great organization.  And even though I have such fond feelings for this group, it meant even more to me knowing this had been the home for Helen for several years, and knowing how well cared for she was, and hoping that our night would be an additional memory amongst many for those residents to reflect on as part of their experience at Landis Homes.

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