November 6, 2018 // 2:54 PM

Building a Community Christmas Card

Written by Juanita Fox

Mid-afternoon on Saturday, December 9, 2017 Erma Nolt tied her horse Jewel to the hitching post in Parking Lot #1. The snow was just starting to fall as she and her nieces and nephews hurried into the Village Square. They quickly walked down to the Train Room to enjoy the holiday open house. They enjoyed supper in The Coop and then hoped to watch Servant Stage’s holiday performance. As they were enjoying their afternoon and supper the snow continued to fall and Servant Stage’s performance was canceled. Thwarted by the snow, they climbed back into the buggy and headed home.

That same afternoon John Kokotiuk took his dog for a walk. As he passed by Parking Lot #1, he spotted Erma’s horse and buggy. Inspired by the early evening light and the snow gently falling, he pulled out his cell phone and snapped a photo.

A few days later John dropped by Scott Miller’s office to show him the photo and suggest, “Wouldn’t that make a great Christmas card?” Scott agreed and tucked the idea away.

When August rolled around, Scott pulled out John’s photo from that snowy night and began to search for an artist who could do a watercolor version of the photo. Barb Baxter agreed to take on the challenge and quickly replicated the photo as a watercolor painting. Graphic Designer Brandon Adams digitized the painting and created the 2018 Christmas Card, which Scott presented in Towne Meeting on Monday, October 15.

That afternoon Erma had Channel 956 on the TV in the apartment she was cleaning. She stopped briefly in front of the TV as Scott unveiled the Christmas card. She wondered, “Is that Jewel?”

After a bit of investigative work she tracked down John Kokotiuk and the original photo and determined that yes, it was her horse. Interestingly, Jewel appeared on a Christmas card that featured a painting by Marie Diehl in 2013. Discovering that Jewel was included in the 2018 Christmas card was extra special to Erma since Jewel became sick in March and was no longer with her.

Erma became a part of the Garden Spot community 15 years ago when she began cleaning Dan and Ann Constantine’s apartment. Since then she has served many couples and individuals at Garden Spot. Erma says, “Garden Spot has become my home away from home. I love the people, the environment. Garden Spot has become second only to my family.”

To her Garden Spot family, Erma says, “Thank you for being my special friends. With the Christmas season drawing near, may you shine for Jesus as he shines for you.”