A New Perspective

By Roberta Maloney

I moved to Epworth Villa seven and a half years ago following the loss of my husband after almost 50 years of wonderful marriage. On my first night here, I was sitting in my cottage feeling desperately alone and unhappy. It was after 11pm when I had this inspiration to take a walk over to the main building. As I wandered down the hall, I came to the Brill Chapel which, to my surprise was lighted and open. Feeling welcome, I went in, took a seat, and spent some time allowing my eyes to travel around the beautiful surroundings. I looked up at the cross on the window and told the Lord how much I appreciated His guiding me to this wonderful spot. I talked with Him and asked Him to pass my thoughts on to my husband. It was amazing to me how comforted I felt. In the following years, I made a regular habit of visiting with the Lord in the chapel and do so today. My religion since childhood has been Catholic, but I must say participating in the services at Epworth has given me a huge respect for a variety of other faiths. I’ve learned that no matter what we call ourselves, we all worship the same God, and Brill Chapel is a wonderful place in which to do it.

Epworth Interviews

Enjoy this interview with Resident Dr. Herman Reece. This interview was created by our Epworth Villa Resident Council Executive Team. At Epworth Villa, we have the most interesting Residents! #thrivingtogether

Dr. Herman Reece

Epworth Interviews

The Executive Team of the Epworth Villa Resident Council created a number of Resident Interviews. The first interview is with Cathy Nichols with some interesting history from Alaska!

Cathy Nichols


With social distancing and being in worship as a community taking a new twist during the Covid-19 quarantine, Epworth Villa residents and Chaplains have become creative.

The altar at Brill Chapel has for over 15 years been traditional with a cross, bible, 2 candles, and paraments reflecting the season of the Christian Year; that is until social distancing became cause to think outside the box.

With no more than ten allowed to gather and six feet of spacing between seating, the chapel became a 24/7 place of personal worship, meditation, and prayer. Residents and staff have been witnessed in the chapel as early as 5:30 a.m. and as late as 11:30 p.m.  Marsha Purtell, Epworth Chaplain, and Wilma Reppert, resident and Chair of Religious Life of the Resident Association, worked as a team using scriptures from the lectionary to plan, design, and implement weekly re-design of the altar area to give visual appeal to the selected scripture posted on a separate table located at the Chapel entry.  Music plays in the background to give a peaceful and meaningful experience to individuals who want to spend time in the chapel.  The chapel is regularly cleaned and sanitized.

Virtual Vespers and Sunday School services are broadcast weekly throughout the campus to all levels of care on Epworth Villa’s closed-circuit TV (EVTV).  Residents can tune in and participate from the comfort of their living rooms. Guest speakers and teachers have done an excellent job sharing from an empty room knowing the nearly 400 residents can tune in to be spiritually fed.

Holy Week, Maundy Thursday, became especially meaningful as each resident was provided with individually bagged cup and host for communion.  Because the residents could participate in their homes with the clergy on the EVTV screen, it is estimated 80 to 85% of the residents participated.

Though the altar reflecting the scriptures began with Lent and was changed several times during Holy Week, having the altar reflect the weekly scriptures has become our “new normal.”  Residents are contributing to the décor with flowers, special crosses, worship cloths, scarves, little lambs etc.  It has become fun and inspiring to see the weekly changes in the worship center and the setting has become a blessing for all who choose to participate.

Baskets of Gratitude

Epworth Villa had a lofty goal.  The goal was to fill 14 baskets to be delivered on Friday, May 15th to area First Responders and Front Line Workers.

The give-back event was initiated by the Independent Living staff.  They collected items such as peanut butter crackers, cookies, rice krispy treats, popcorn, crackers, jelly, peanut butter, bread, nuts, Gatorade, candy bars, gum, to go soups, honey buns, cups of oatmeal, dried fruits, individual packs of chips and nutrition/healthy bars. Residents donated these items, and some made cards to be included in the baskets.

Epworth Villa Residents have long been known for their generosity.  These baskets were yet another way for the Residents to show their appreciation and support for those out in the community serving and keeping others safe.

The baskets were delivered to the following organizations:  EMSA – Command Post, SuperTarget N. Pennsylvania Avenue location, Oklahoma City Fire Department Station 37, 16820 N. Penn Ave, Edmond, Mercy Hospital, Memorial Road location, Integris Hospital, NW Expressway, OKC, OU Hospital, 1200 N. Children Avenue, OKC.

Epworth Villa Teamwork

These masks are just a few of the over 500 that were made and distributed within Epworth Villa. Marketing Coordinator, Laura Alfonzo coordinated the effort. She created sewing kits with pre-cut fabric that around 15 Residents picked up and sewed. Alfonzo was contacted by 5-6 other outside individuals and organizations that volunteered to sew masks. Specifically, Chapel Hill United Methodist Church Holy Hands group sewed well over 100 masks for the Residents and Employees of Epworth Villa. Alfonzo said, “the goal was to have a mask for everyone on campus, and we succeeded with the help of so many!”

Epworth Villa sincerely appreciates all of those who lent their time and thread to help with this monumental effort.

Call Team Mobilized

New acquaintances and friendships are blossoming.  Sally Lenz, call team member said this project was a step out of her comfort zone.  Chaplain, Marsha Purtell, Elizabeth Newell, Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Destiny Helms, Director of Independent Living have mobilized a group of volunteer callers including Lenz.  There are 35 volunteers.  These volunteers are made up of the three employees listed and approximately 35 Independent Living Residents.

The call is a daily check in.  The callers check on the physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being of our neighbors.  The callers are instructed that It is not a time to pry.  The call is voluntary to the recipient, but it is a way to keep in touch and not feel isolated.  Purtell says, “we are in the business of assisting members of our community to THRIVE.  They have always been thriving educators, entrepreneurs, business leaders, church leaders, and continue to be a gift to our community.  We do not want in any way to diminish any independence that is not mandated to each of us.”  The recipients are also asked by the caller assigned to them to please call and check on me, if you don’t receive my call.  The volunteers and those being called all agree that, “we are in this together.”

The callers ask questions like, “How was your dinner?”  “Do you need any groceries?”  “What are you doing for fun?”  “Are you feeling well?” “Do you have all the medications you need?”  “Do you need a puzzle, a book, art supplies, stationary, or something else to occupy your time?”  “Are you finding time for spiritual renewal?” “Are you reaching out to other people in your faith community?”  “Do you need devotional materials or devotional websites?”  “Have you been outside to see the beautiful spring flowers?”  “How is your family?”  If they just need to talk and vent, the volunteers say, that’s fine too.

Lenz said that occasionally, she found that a Resident might not be aware of something going on such as Wednesday morning breakfast.  She has been able to find answers to questions on some occasions and says, “that’s been a positive thing.”  Lenz also says, “yes! definitely getting to know these ladies whom I didn’t know before. And — I really do like them! That’s been fun. They all seem truly happy to be at Epworth; they think management is doing a good job in a tough situation; one lady was hoping that we would get through this whole pandemic without a single case of Covid 19 at Epworth!  I’ve heard about kids and grandkids and such, have found commonalities among us, and sorta’ marvel that they truly don’t seem to mind my calling them every single day!  Oh, and one lady and I were, just today, talking about how we couldn’t wait to go to a grocery store again!  A ‘chore’ we agreed that, in normal pre-lock down times, could be a bit of a burden.”

Good Friday Gratitude

A note from the desk of Author and Resident Sara O.

To Epworth Villa:

Many, many thanks for your efforts to keep us all as safe as possible.  David and I deeply appreciate it.  We are glad we chose Epworth for our home.  We appreciate everyone.  We are so glad.

You asked a writer how she is coping with crisis, so here’s my answer.

I try to remember what I’m grateful for.  Gratitude changes my perspective and I have so much to be thankful for today.  I’m sheltered, fed, have David with me, have a wonderful family, I have Psalms 23 to cling to, and I know I’m surrounded by friends even though we can’t see each other.  I have a comfortable home and my physical needs are met. I am well today and that’s a good thing.   I think about the family dog I love and that always gives me a smile. This event wouldn’t worry her.  I can look outside and see spring flowers, green grass, the pond and know that a good, sunny day when all is back to normal, will come.  My life has been good and filled with people I’ve loved and they’ve loved me and I’ve been blessed beyond anything I could have ever imagined.  I’m reminded that life is good.  That’s what is important.

Thanks for asking.  It’s a good reminder.

That’s what has gotten me this far.

Sara O.

Reading Buddies at Britton Elementary

Do you remember the first time you got to read to someone other than in “reading group!” or to hold your own book?  Maybe the pictures remind you of when you heard your grandchild read to you!  10 Epworth Villa Residents and Employees traveled to Britton Elementary School.  This was our first opportunity to be a Reading Buddy!  We were able to provide all the Valentine Treats for the 144 1st graders in  7 classrooms.  The children and teachers were thrilled!

The 34 children we saw that day were the better readers.  The librarian said she had never heard some of them read so well or be so well behaved.  “Maybe they had never been so close for so long with someone with wrinkles.”  Resident, Frans V. laughed.  He also said, “Yes, now some with read with a Dutch accent like me!”  The coordinators were pleased to have volunteers.

Are you ready to participate?  Whether you want to help gather supplies, contribute for the weekly treats or be a reading buddy there is a way for you to give back.  That’s what Epworth Villa is all about!