Written by Juanita Fox
At Garden Spot Village, life didn’t stop when COVID-19 shut down the world.
This spring, when it felt like the world stopped for many communities around the world, Garden Spot Village residents continued to serve, volunteer, learn, work and live with purpose. Living in community developed new meaning as many people around the country struggled to access things like online grocery shopping and telemedicine while they fought against the challenges of living in isolation. At Garden Spot, a community rallied around each other, finding ways to overcome these challenges—together.
Social distancing but not socially distant. Eric and Tine MacKay moved to Garden Spot Village on April 16, 2020, in the middle of a stay-at-home order. They agreed to a 14-day quarantine in their new home. During that time they unpacked and settled in. Their meals and mail were delivered to their door and they avoided contact with their neighbors, as a precaution. When their self-imposed quarantine lifted, they immediately connected with their neighbors, enjoying long walks on the Garden Spot campus. “Whenever we take a walk and meet someone new,” Eric says, “we stop and talk for 10 to 20 minutes—at a safe distance, of course. Everyone is so friendly and welcoming.”
Still Connected. As president of the Bee Club, Sandy Allen, a Garden Spot Village resident since August 2015, tends the bees with one or two other members of the group every week. The group tends three hives, located next to Garden Spot’s aeroponic greenhouse. Sandy is always recruiting new members—bee experts and novices alike. “Being part of the Bee Club is an amazing experience,” she says. “When you learn about what the bees actually do—maintain the hive, care for their Queen, propagate, pollinate and make honey—it’s miraculous. Our major goal is to help maintain the species. If the bee population doesn’t exist, neither do we. At the end of the summer, if we are lucky, we may each get a jar of honey.”
Still Learning. In August 2019 Don Aldrich, a Garden Spot Village resident since August 2016, received a totally unexpected request from Anchor Christian Academy in Lancaster to teach math to high school students. After prayerfully considering this, Don, a chemical engineer who enjoyed an interesting career with DuPont, accepted the invitation to teach at his grandsons’ school because he saw it as an opportunity to impact the lives of young people. “Teaching in a Christian school gives me an opportunity to help teens grow their technical skills and become more confident of their ability to apply their God-given gifting,” Don says. “I also help them grow spiritually. I have learned much and grown through this experience,” he adds. When schools closed suddenly in March because of the coronavirus pandemic, he took the class online. Anchor, which follows a university model of teaching where students are in class three days per week and work independently at home two days, was well-positioned to transition to a fully online education. Don eagerly looks forward to returning to Anchor in August to teach Algebra 2 and Pre-Calculus.
Still Serving. Curt Cole, a Garden Spot Village resident since January 2019, volunteers regularly at Garden Spot Village. His volunteer assignments shifted a bit in the last two months as he picked up shifts at the community’s screening tent located at the main entrance on Linden. Curt is one of many volunteers who are serving two and four hour shifts throughout the day, screening staff and residents for COVID-19 symptoms as they enter campus. Curt says, “Doing the entrance screening has given me an opportunity to meet many of my fellow residents and work with our wonderful staff members that I would not normally have met, while helping to protect our vulnerable community.”
Still Painting. Barb Baxter, a Garden Spot Village resident since November 2017, loves to paint. Early on, when the stay-at-home order just started, Barb accepted a 14-day Isolation Art Challenge on Facebook. She painted 13 paintings in 14 days. The challenge offered her a connection to the outside world, a reason to stay motivated and a way to develop her art. More recently, she connected with a group of artists that she traveled to Italy with a number of years ago. They all, in their various homes, accepted a challenge to paint the same still life. “The colors on the pottery in the painting were amazing,” Barb says. “It was a fun way to connect with fellow artists, even though we are in different places.”
Still Working. Jeanne Bomberger, a Garden Spot Village resident since April 2019, co-owns Cash & Carry Electrical Supply, Inc., in Quarryville, with her son Eric. Jeanne and her husband, John, started the business in the mid-1980s as an outgrowth of John’s electrical contracting business. Today, Jeanne and Eric lead a team of 12 employees that helps them with the ins and outs of running a successful electrical supply business. Through the stay-at-home order Jeanne continued to work full-time, albeit from the safety and comfort of her apartment at Garden Spot Village. The company’s contribution to the community is important. Jeanne says, “We serve people who wouldn’t have the buying power to command a good price for their electrical supplies from a larger electrical distributor. We have a unique niche in the Amish community and serve businesses like UltraGlow Electric, which is affiliated with Lancaster County-based B&D Construction, the company that recently moved and renovated the well-known Star Barn.”
Still Volunteering. For the last eight weeks, Elaine Blakeslee and her husband, Ed, Garden Spot Village residents since November 2017, have spent every afternoon in the Village Square, sorting groceries with Colleen Musselman, life enrichment director. Elaine says, “Some of our neighbors at Sycamore Springs can’t go to the grocery store so I have been helping them by going to the grocery store and delivering groceries to their homes. This was a natural next step.” She adds, “Volunteering helps us become more familiar with people and we find additional ways to help others.” In addition, when Wellness Director Lauren Graber started a babysitting service for team members in mid-March, Elaine helped where she could. When she could no longer help with babysitting, Elaine supported Lauren’s efforts by baking cupcakes for birthdays and special events.
Still Living with Purpose. When the coronavirus grounded John Clough’s involvement with Angel Flight Mid-Atlantic, a network of private pilots who transport people to medical appointments, John found a new way to live with purpose, serving his neighbors. Over the last eight weeks, John, a Garden Spot Village resident since September 2010, has faithfully delivered groceries ordered from Shady Maple, orders placed at Linden and flowers delivered for Mother’s Day. John says, “I thoroughly enjoy serving others. And making people happier is oh so much fun. I love every minute of it.”