Category: News

Employee Holiday Gift

$104,000.00 is how much the Epworth Villa residents contributed to the Employee Holiday Gift Fund. Yes! You read that correctly, $104,000!

Chairperson, Frans VanAntwerpen said that they were able to distribute checks at this annual event to 242 employees. The holiday gift is distributed to hourly employees and the amount is determined by longevity with the organization. VanAntwerpen continued by saying that the gift is the residents’ way of showing appreciation for their service throughout the year.

Before the pandemic, the Employee Holiday Party, hosted by the residents was complete with balloons, face painting, cookies and punch, and special guest Santa Claus. This year, the event was scaled back but the residents still expressed their gratitude with goodie bags for the employee’s children and grandchildren. The bags were filled with age-appropriate candy, books, coloring books and crayons, and toys. Residents, Pat O’Connor and Meredith Hebblethwaite took turns on the piano providing entertainment to both the residents and employees enjoying the party.

A superhero in rubber boots

J. Stephen Ford, Ph.D., P.E.

J. Stephen Ford, Ph.D., P.E. has served on the Board of Directors at Epworth Villa since 2016. As a senior investigative engineer with structural engineering being his primary focus, he has served as a consultant to senior management on all things pertaining to facilities.

On June 21, 2021, Ford’s expertise was called into action. On this date, a most unfortunate flooding occurred from an 8” high-pressure pipe. Because Ford’s firm designed this part of the building in 1988-1989, he had inside knowledge and had all the plans and designs. Ford always keeps a hard hat and rubber boots in his vehicle, due to the nature of his work. As soon as Ford was made aware of the flood, he was in the building with a calm and wise demeanor that was essential to assisting the fire department, the restoration company, and senior management in accessing the safety of the scene. The next morning Ford had Burnett Construction on the premises to begin evaluating the damage and repair. Because Ford’s mother was a resident of Epworth Villa before her passing, he knew the importance of residential safety to our residents and deeply felt the inconvenience that would impact the residents, employees, and guests.  Ford made sure that both the flood restoration and construction companies were sensitive and respectful to all the residents.

Ford is dedicated to helping a novice understand the structural effects of a water incident such as this. As a former professor and teacher, he has taken the time to explain this water event to any resident or employee who inquires. He has spent numerous off-the-clock hours advising, inspecting, calling, and planning. We know that Ford’s dedication to Epworth Villa as a volunteer comes from his deep love for his mother and the place, she called home. Most superheroes wear capes, our hero wears a hard hat and rubber boots.

The “why” behind Thanksgiving by Resident Jim Wasson

History tells us the first Thanksgiving in America was held in November 1621 after the first harvest proved to be successful. Governor William Bradford organized the celebration feast and invited a group of the fledgling colony’s Native American allies, including the Wampanoag Tribe, now remembered as America’s first Thanksgiving. Future Thanksgivings were celebrated at different dates, and the respective Colonies celebrated their own Thanksgiving.

In 1863, Abraham Lincoln, at the height of the Civil War, in a proclamation encouraged all Americans to ask God to commend to His tender care all those who had become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife and to heal the wounds of the nation. Lincoln scheduled Thanksgiving for the final Thursday in November, and it was celebrated on that day until 1939.

President Franklin Roosevelt moved the holiday up a week in an attempt to spur retail sales, and in 1941, the President signed a bill making Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday in November.

Sadly, in many American households, the Thanksgiving celebration has lost much of its original religious significance. Instead, it now centers on cooking and sharing a bountiful meal with family and/or friends, football, parades, shopping, and other activities. These events aren’t all bad, but we should be looking beyond our personal pleasure and include time to be truly thankful for the blessings in life we have been so fortunate to have experienced.

So for Thanksgiving 2021, as we prepare to munch down on that turkey, ham, or whatever is on the table, let us take time to go back in history to the words of Abraham Lincoln and ask God to “help heal the wounds of this great nation.” Further, let us be thankful for all our first responders, veterans, current military members, and the nurses, doctors, and support personnel who place themselves in harm’s way to protect us. I want to especially thank our current military personnel who serve with such dedication in an effort to preserve the foundation of our democracy. Their willingness to serve, even in missions we and they don’t always understand, is a commitment so deserving of our thanks.

We have so much to be thankful for, and we should share the many things that are so important. Take a few minutes and just review all those things YOU are thankful for, and express them this Thanksgiving Day. In doing so, we will make this Thanksgiving truly a blessed THANKSGIVING.

Sports and Giving Thanks! by Resident, Jimette McLean

I was asked to write an article on the topic of gratitude and had it basically worked out in my mind by the time I went to Vespers last Thursday. Lo and behold, the sermon was almost exactly what I was planning to write! I decided that since Vespers was not televised last week I would go ahead and write more or less what I had planned with a little help from the sermon.

The scripture was I Thessalonians 5:18 where Paul tells the early Christians to “be thankful in all circumstances.” The preacher went on to clarify that Paul did not say FOR all circumstances, but rather IN all circumstances. I can relate. There are many circumstances for which I am not thankful: the pandemic comes to mind, or the Thunder not having a chance at a winning season. But we can be thankful IN those circumstances. For instance, the pandemic has given us an opportunity for creative communication and for Thunder fans to watch on a game-by-game basis the progress of these very young players.

It has been my practice for several years to write down five things for which I am grateful each evening before I go to bed. Sometimes these are really significant events–like the Thunder winning the Lakers game. Other times, they are small observances like catching a few birds splashing in a puddle of water in the median while waiting for a light to change. During the sermon, the preacher listed a variety of things for which he has been grateful. I will do the same in the hope that some of these things may encourage an attitude of gratitude in you.

I am grateful for sports. My teams are the Detroit Tigers, the Pittsburgh Steelers, Michigan football, Duke basketball, OU softball, and OKC Thunder. But it isn’t only the entertainment–and sometimes frustration–that I get from following these teams, it is the opportunity it gives me to share the experience with others, like Betty Harding who is a major sports fan. Or to continue to have a nearly 50-year friendship with a man from Ann Arbor, Michigan. When I served the church there, Bobby was in junior high and the oldest of five boys in a blended family. I learned that to have a relationship with those guys, I was first going to have to have a relationship with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan football. I was hooked. I became a sports fan, and Bobby and his brothers became active in the youth program.

I am thankful for my cat and for Bill Zumwalt who cares for her when I am away. I am thankful for my sisters and for the trips that we have taken together for the past 20 years. I am thankful for the staff here at Epworth and that Taylor, Dernard, and Monica always remember that I want V-8 and iced water. I am thankful for the Upper Room and for the Religious Life committee that provides it. I am thankful for Aldi’s. I am thankful for music: opera, country-western, show tunes, sacred music, and for Ginger and Wes who make our choir a joy. There are many other things for which I am grateful, but you get the picture. Try your own list. Hopefully, it will make Thanks-giving even more meaningful.

The preacher closed his sermon with the child’s prayer that most of us prayed when we were young: “Thank you for the world so sweet. Thank you for the food we eat. Thank you for the birds that sing. Thank you, God, for everything.” This simple prayer is profound, and we would do well to pray it on a regular basis as we thank God in all circumstances.