Jim and Esther Hodgkins
Moving to a retirement community usually involves some downsizing. However Jim and Esther Hodgkins actually expanded their living space this fall when they moved into their 1,464 square-foot, two-bedroom, two-bath Fairmount cottage. After a decade of “full-timing” in their 38-foot recreational vehicle, they once again have a permanent place to call home.
Jim and Esther have always traveled. “One of our daughters married a diplomat and moved all over the world. We went to see them wherever they lived,” Esther explains. “The first place we visited was Beijing, China, and Tibet. Later we visited Japan, the most fascinating of our excursions.”
Over their married life, the Hodgkins visited all 50 states (not always in their RV) as well as many countries. As “full timers” in their motor home for the past 10 years, they have been moving from one place to another every three or four weeks, except for winters which they spent in Mission, Texas.
Jim and Esther both enjoyed fulfilling careers. In 1958 Esther earned her LPN license and Jim fulfilled his dream of securing his 1st class operator’s license to work in a radio station. Esther was a nurse for many years at Community Hospital in Reading. Jim spent his entire career as a broadcast engineer, working for the same radio station in Reading for 30 years before retiring in 1993. “It was never work for me—it was fun!” he declares.
On the side, Jim had his own studio where he made vinyl records, cassettes and CDs, and in addition he ran his own photography business. In 2005, he gave up his studio to go on the road, but he still enjoys photography and carries a camera wherever they travel.
So what made them decide to settle down now? Esther ponders for a moment. “I’m getting tired of moving around,” she says finally. “And our daughters really wanted us to have a place we could call home.”
Asked why they selected Fairmount, Jim answers first. “We qualified for another nearby retirement home, too, but our values more closely align with Fairmount’s values.”
Family connections are another factor, as Esther explains. “My mother was a Fairmount resident many years ago. She always got good care, and when I came to visit, I thought, ‘I could live here.’ Mother’s sister also lived and worked at Fairmount for many years. Plus we have friends here, and our daughter lives nearby.”
The Hodgkins are excited about their move. Esther says, “One of the things I’m really looking forward to is being able to go to the same church every Sunday. As we traveled we had to find a church in each new location. Also, after we are settled in at Fairmount, I would like to volunteer in some capacity working directly with residents.”
Jim is also eager to find a church, but he has a different idea for volunteering. “I have thousands of great pictures from all over the world,” he remarks. I hope there will be opportunities to share travelogues with new Fairmount friends.”
Don and Dorcas Hostetter
When Don and Dorcas Hostetter first received a call a few years ago offering them a Fairmount cottage, they declined, even though their name had been on the waiting list for some time. “We weren’t ready then,” explains Don. “It is hard to leave a beautiful home you built yourself and an area you lived in all your life. So we said ‘no’ and remained on the waiting list.”
But when Fairmount announced plans for six spacious new cottages, several with two-car garages, the Hostetters both agreed that they were ready, Friends were surprised by the Hostetters’ decision. They are younger and more socially active than some couples going into retirement communities. Don, a registered Holstein breeder for most of his life, was still involved in his business. But they explained, “A lot of people don’t want to talk about the future as they age. We have seen many instances where people postpone a move until their health fails. Then the families have to make all the decisions and pick up the pieces. We don’t want to do that to our children.”
Although they are still young and energetic, the Hostetters are aware that health situations crop up more frequently with age. “My doctor told me that it would be a good idea to slow down a bit. When I move here, I won’t have to mow the lawn or push the snow. When something breaks, someone else can fix it,” Don chuckles.
Dorcas adds, “We want to move while we’re healthy and can volunteer and enjoy an active life. I have a lot of flowerbeds at my home, and I want to be able to step outside the door of my own cottage and plant flowers here too. Living on a farm, we were always busy, and we have a lot of friends. We want to continue that lifestyle here.”
The Hostetters considered Fairmount for many reasons: “Before I do anything, I research well,” Don says. “When we decided to make this move, we investigated six different retirement homes. We have friends in quite a few of them, and some were very impressive. But when we really thought about it, one of the most important considerations was the quality of health care. Other places have good care also, but friends who have been residents here have never reported anything but excellent care. That is the kind of care I want my wife to have if she ever needs it.”
There are plenty of other factors that appeal to the Hostetters: They will be closer to three of their five children who live in the Lancaster area. They found the prices reasonable, especially the monthly maintenance fees. And the hilltop setting is perfect for them. Coming from a farm, they love seeing the farmland spread out below.
Martha Kauffman Weaver
As a young girl Martha Kauffman Weaver dreamed of becoming a teacher. That dream was delayed when she had to drop out of high school to help on the family farm. There she helped her mother cook for hired hands, picked apples, milked cows, gathered eggs, and planted a garden. Her desire to teach was fulfilled in part by teaching Bible school and Sunday school at the small mission church in which her family was involved. Then at 25 years old, she attended a July institute at Eastern Mennonite College, and her desire to go back to school was rekindled. That fall she started college at EMC and graduated four years later. For many years she taught in Mennonite schools, and later went to Temple University where she earned a Master’s degree. For many years after she retired from teaching on a regular basis, she served as a substitute teacher. In the meantime, she was always writing.
Martha’s schedule now would give no indication that she is “retired.” Early mornings find her starting the day with a walk outside—taking the long route to breakfast. Although in her mid-nineties, she still drives to sewing circle or to meet friends at other nearby retirement communities. While she enjoys visiting her friends in a sister community, she is reminded of why she likes Fairmount. “I’m glad to be here. I can pursue my own interests in my own time, without outside pressures.”
Martha’s days are occupied by writing letters to friends, creating puzzles and writing articles for church publications, or writing her next book – all on a computer. Her latest book, The Garden in My Heart, was recently published and is already on its second printing.
Byron and Ann Zimmerman
When Byron and Ann Zimmerman moved to Fairmount Homes, they settled close to their roots. Both were born and raised in Lancaster County, and moved to Leola a few years after their marriage. They started out farming, but soon decided to learn the insurance business instead. Both became insurance agents and brokers and built a business over the years that afforded them many opportunities. They especially enjoyed traveling, and went by plane, sailboat, motor boat, biking or RV, all over the world. Their travels included Switzerland, Laborador, Alaska, Spain and Morocco, to name a few.
On their 60th anniversary, Byron and Ann Zimmerman decided it was time to investigate retirement homes. After researching, attending open houses, and consulting with their children, they put their names in at two places. Ann also spent time volunteering in order to learn more about Fairmount and become familiar with the environment. When the call came offering them an apartment at Fairmount, they readily accepted. Their new home has a great view to the south—overlooking the area they called home for most of their married lives.
Both of them stay busy, still going in to the office at least one day a week. Byron also drives an Amish family to market in Harrisburg, leaving at 4:30 a.m. every Saturday morning, and returning around 6:30 p.m. He teaches a Sunday School class at their church, and for recreation loves to ride his bicycle on Lancaster County’s back roads.
Ann learned to weave and became quite expert. Her loom is set up in their second bedroom where she creates beautiful items that she sells at craft shows or donates to Fairmount’s Benefit Auction and the Lancaster Mennonite School Silent Auction. She continues to volunteer at Fairmount, visiting with residents in Health Care who have become her friends over the years.
Byron and Ann are happy and content with their decision to join the Fairmount family. “I feel at home here,” Ann muses. “I love the simplicity!”
Ephraim and Mabel Hernley
In 2013, when Ephraim and Mabel Hernley were researching continuing care retirement communities, they read in the Perspective that one new cottage was still available. They had checked out plenty of other retirement homes, and none felt exactly right. But they decided to take a look at Fairmount. When they saw the view from that new cottage, they knew they had found their home.
“I could live here!” Mabel remembers exclaiming as she stood in the kitchen overlooking miles of farmland below.
The Hernleys’ primary concern was the availability of health care. A health scare had pushed them to ask, “If we need care, what will we do?” For them, the answer was to seek a continuing-care retirement home where, if needed, they could receive excellent health care.
They realized also that to build a good social network, they should move while they were still relatively young. “Don’t wait until you have to go,” Ephraim says. “Relocate early in you retirement years and make friends. Then later when you especially need it, you will have the support of people you know. When we first came here, we joined other cottage and apartment residents for coffee hour every morning, attended a variety of activities, and soon learned to know a lot of people.”
Another priority for the Hernleys was to stay active. Ephraim declares emphatically, “We’re retired, but we aren’t going to sit around!”
True to their word, they have found plenty to do. Prior to their move, they made a special request to bring with them some of their berry bushes, so a typical summer day finds them picking blueberries, boysenberries or blackberries from the hardy bushes back of their cottage, or strawberries in the raised bed Ephraim built behind the deck. The peppers, tomatoes, onions, potatoes and zucchini produce almost enough to get them through the winter.
There are many additional outlets for the Hernleys’ varied interests. They both sing in the Fairmount Chorus and serve on the Residential Living Activity Committee. Ephraim also sings in a Fairmount men’s quartet and makes coffee for coffee hour one morning a week. Mabel helps to manage the Farm Crest Gift Shop, making good use of her many years of experience as a buyer and head cashier for a Christian bookstore. The couple could not be happier with their decision to enjoy Fairmount living.
Wilmer and Gladys Martin
Wilmer and Gladys Martin are convinced they have the best cottage in the best location on campus. “We had our name on the waiting list, and were called many times before we came,” says Wilmer. “But when we saw the location of the new cottages being built, we were convinced the time was right.
They have not regretted their decision for a minute. What do they like best about their new cottage? They appreciate so many features that choosing one is difficult.
Wilmer responds first, “The best thing is having a new house—we never had a new house before. For all of our married lives, we lived in a house built in 1937—not real old, but there was a lot of upkeep. It is wonderful to now be free of home maintenance.”
Given the severity of their first winter at Fairmount, their move could not have been timed better. “I counted 14 occasions the maintenance crew cleared our driveway that winter,” Gladys remembers. “They plowed the driveway, shoveled the sidewalks, and even swept off our front porch several times.”
But then, maybe the best aspect of their new cottage is just how much room they have. Gladys explains, “There is more counter and cabinet space in our kitchen than we ever had in our old place. There is even space in the kitchen pantry for the 50-plus jars of tomato juice we canned this summer. Also, I have plenty of room in the second bedroom for quilting. I quilt for a local shop and almost always have a quilt in a frame.”
Perhaps their favorite feature is the sunroom, where they spend so much of their time. From there they can see for miles across the valley on a clear day. Wilmer and Gladys appreciate the privacy of their location on campus. Their home is in a small community of five cottages on a cul-de-sac, but still accessible to all of the community amenities and activities. “When I get tired of working, I can go to the library to find a good book or read the newspaper,” Wilmer adds. “Or I can visit with my sister, cousins, or other family members and friends who live here.”
Eventually Wilmer and Gladys agree that the two-car garage tops all the other benefits of their new home. For the first time in their lives, they can just pull into their garage and unload groceries without worrying about inclement weather. And by keeping just one of the cars inside, Wilmer has room for a wood shop, where he makes shelves, corner cabinets, and podiums upon request for a local business.
From their Fairmount cottage, the Martins can maintain the same active lifestyle they enjoyed in their former home. Wilmer and Gladys still work as needed at a local restaurant, and Gladys volunteers in several capacities at Fairmount. They both enjoy gardening, as evidenced by lovely flower beds in front of their cottage, and the tomato plants that produced such an abundant harvest this summer. Now they have plenty of time for everything they like to do, rather than spending time on what they need to do.
John Hostetler has been a Fairmount resident for 11 years. He and his wife Kathy first moved into a cottage in 2005. Kathy passed away just a few years later, and in 2014, he downsized into a beautiful, one-bedroom Crest View apartment with a great view.
John’s life is one of service, and at 91 years of age, he continues to serve. Once a week he spends an afternoon as a cashier at the Ephrata ReUzit, a local thrift store benefitting the international relief, development and peace organization, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC). On two additional afternoons each week he gets together with a friend for lunch before spending the afternoons working with Booksavers, which sells or recycles used books. ReUzit and Booksavers are both part of MCC, the organization he has worked for since 1953, and that he helped to grow throughout his many years of service there. “MCC was the best thing that could have happened to me,” he reflects.
John grew up on a farm in West Liberty, Ohio, and always assumed he would be a farmer. However, World War II and the draft took him away from the farm for two years in Civilian Public Service (CPS). After that, he spent another four years at Goshen College, where he took courses in accounting, bookkeeping, economics, and teacher education. It was great preparation for his role with MCC in Frankfurt, Germany, where his accounting and bookkeeping skills were used to organize and keep financial records up-to-date. His two-year commitment in Germany stretched into six. While in Frankfurt he met Kathy, another MCC worker from Ontario, Canada. They married in Frankfurt, but in 1959, the year the first of their two sons was born, they returned to the United States and settled in Akron, PA. There he continued to work with MCC until he “semi-retired” at 66 years of age.
Over the years, John was an integral part of MCC’s growth and structure. When he started working back in the United States, he first managed the collection and shipment of material resources to poor countries, becoming their exporting expert. As needs changed and MCC grew in response, John was instrumental in starting MCC’s meat canning operation, ReUzit Shops, Relief Sales, and Penny Power programs. He also worked with other relief organizations to start Heifer Project, an international effort to end hunger.
John is happy to be at Fairmount. Although he has many friends elsewhere, he has made numerous friends here and still gets together often with his family and friends off-campus. And with the burdens of home maintenance taken care of by others, he is free to continue his friendships, his interests and his life of service to others.
Charlie and Joyce Martin
In 2014, Charlie and Joyce Martin retired and moved to Fairmount Homes—a logical choice given that Joyce’s parents had also lived here when the apartments first opened, and that they were both born and raised in the local area. Except for a year in Puerto Rico, they lived, worked, and raised their four children not too from their New Holland origins.
The Martins started their married lives on a farm. After 10 years of farming, Charlie started working as a cabinet-maker, and Joyce started a bridal shop, selling bridal gowns and doing alterations. Later they became full-time youth leaders for their church.
Charlie and Joyce brought a unique experience to Fairmount. They had begun raising Seeing Eye puppies in 2002, teaching the young puppies simple commands and taking them everywhere they went for the first year of their lives to socialize them. For the Martins, the rewards were tremendous, especially when they were invited to see “their” puppies trained as service dogs that enabled blind people to live independent fulfilling lives. As they contemplated retirement, the Martins decided not to take new puppies, but to offer respite care for trainers on vacation who could not take the puppies with them. This arrangement allows Charlie and Joyce to travel freely and enjoy their retirement without being tied down.
How did this fit into their new Fairmount Homes apartment living situation? They discussed the idea with Fairmount’s administrative staff, and got the go-ahead to give it a try. Since then, the sight of Joyce with a puppy in training has become a familiar one. It has worked out very well, and they are delighted to continue serving the larger community from their new home.
As for Charlie, he stays busy in Fairmount’s wood shop building furniture for non-profits, including ReUzit and Fairmount. He recently constructed a beautiful shelving unit to hold all of the resident charts for one of the neighborhoods in Fairmount’s nursing area, as well as a much-needed bookshelf for Fairmount’s Country Cupboard in the Wheat Ridge lobby. Certainly they did not slow down, but simply began living their lives from a new location where, incidentally, from their living room window they can see their former home and beyond!
Ezra and Elizabeth Bell Stoltzfus
On October 23, 2010, apartment resident Elizabeth Bell married Ezra Stoltzfus of Kinzers, PA, in the Farm Crest Community Room chapel. It was the first time in Fairmount history for a resident to be married on campus.
Elizabeth had first explored retirement options in 2004 shortly after the death of her first husband. Her criteria were clear. ‘I wanted to live in Lancaster County close to my siblings. I wanted to find a retirement home where I would be safe, be able to serve and become part of a community. And I wanted to keep working,’ she explains.
For Elizabeth, the deciding factor occurred during her Admissions interview when she asked, ‘If I live at Fairmount, would I be able to work here as well?’
The Admissions Director responded by making a call, then escorting her to the Director of Nursing. She filled out an employment application that day and began working as a nurse in Health Care two weeks later. A year after that, she moved into her brand new Crest View apartment. What Elizabeth had not anticipated then was that she would remarry. ‘You are amazed that you can love again!’ she exclaims. “Over the last couple of weeks I realized that we are entering into a new season of our lives.”
As Elizabeth and Ezra exchanged vows on October 23rd, the presence of their many Fairmount friends, both neighbors and staff, made it an extra special celebration. What a wonderful example of Fairmount’s new tagline, ‘Dedicated to Faith, Family and Community!’