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Maintaining strong social connections is a key factor in the lives of centenarians. Whether through close family ties, friendships, or community involvement, social connections contribute to emotional well-being. They may play a significant role in the overall health of individuals as they age.

This is true for five very special centenarians living and thriving at Mennonite Home. Born in the years 1917, 1919 and 1924, these five fabulous individuals have lived a life that has seen many historical moments. From the World Wars, to women gaining the right to vote, to the civil rights movement, the first color tv, landing on the moon, various pandemics, the invention of the internet and then the smartphone and every other major historical event in between, these residents have seen and have been through it all.

For residents, Vernon and Angela Stinebaugh, both born in 1919 and recently celebrating their 81st wedding anniversary, lived a life of music. Their exciting adventures spanned to Europe where Vernon conducted a choir and orchestra called Sounds of Hope.

Previously residing at Woodcrest Villa, Mennonite Home Communities’ independent living campus, the couple was active in the on-campus community. Angela volunteered at Mennonite Home and took exercise classes. Vernon on the other hand took daily walks, played music and enjoyed the simple things in life like his coffee he would drink and the donut he would eat before his morning walks.

When asked about the secret to a long marriage, Angela responded, “Adjustments in life are continuous. Accommodate those changes in life and take it day by day.”

Though born in the same year, Margaret Eckman experienced life differently as a local in Lancaster County. She lived on a farm with her husband where she tended to the cows and raised six children, but also enjoyed cooking and reading.

Margaret, who enjoys playing lots of bingo stated that the secret to her long life is, “eating healthy and avoid eating meat.”

Dr. William MclIwaine, a US Army Veteran who served our country in World War II, is a graduate of Boston University, where he obtained his Bachelor, Masters, and Doctoral Degrees.  From 1958 until his retirement, Bill was employed at Millersville University where he taught Geology and Chemistry, and served as Chair of the Department of Earth and Space Science and Elementary and Early Childhood Education.

For more than twenty years, Bill served for Millersville University as Director of Grants and Awards and as a member of its Board of Trustees.  Additionally, Dr. MclIwaine served his community on the Millersville Borough Council, the Penn Manor School Board, the YMCA Board of Directors and the County Board of Public Assistance.

Ruth Binkley was born in the year of 1917 and is a longtime Lancaster resident.  When Ruth was born, World War I was still ongoing.  She has managed to live through two World Wars, two global pandemics to include the Spanish Influenza and COVID-19 Pandemic.  Ruth is a lifelong coffee lover, while she doesn’t bake anymore, she is someone that was always known for her delicious baked goods.

Ruth was born and raised in Lancaster County, later in life, her and her husband built a house together in the City of Lancaster.  Ruth had always had a garden and enjoyed picking flowers.  She was never a huge fan of indoor house work but would do anything to be outdoors in her garden.

Though their life stories are different, they all have one thing in common, they have entrusted their care to the dedicated staff at Mennonite Home (MH). A care community that focuses on person – centered care, staff at Mennonite Home work as a team to curate care initiatives, activities and support focused on the resident. It’s this continued pursuit of excellence that has awarded MH a five-star rating and a deficiency-free survey from the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

Though a five-star rating is quite a celebratory achievement as it quantifies the capabilities of the organization for the Department of Health, it does not look into the heart of what makes MH the caring community that it is.

“It is the interactions with our residents and team that qualify our capabilities.” States Jennifer Eslinger, Vice President of Health Services. “The spirit of family, the affection, and support make the environment one in which residents thrive and enjoy in the every day. It is the approach in detail, care services and staffing support that we continuously strive to be the best for our residents.”

On this particular day as the residents were getting ready for their photo shoot, staff were excitedly preparing the residents for the shoot, helping them look their best, putting up decorations and cheering them on from the sidelines as the residents smiled for the camera.

Staff members at Mennonite Home Communities are often seen as being a difference maker in the lives of our residents, whether it’s for residents that live at Woodcrest Villa, the independent living campus of Mennonite Home Communities, or the care campus at Mennonite Home. When a new team member comes on board they are committing to making a positive difference in the lives of residents and know that the relationships they create and the impact they have with residents is priceless.

The key to success at MH is recruiting quality candidates so that they can continue to build a strong team for current and future residents. Staff who truly want to make a difference in the lives of our residents, whether it’s providing direct care, or delicious meals to eat, a safe and clean home to live in with engagement, beautifully manicured lawns and gardens to enjoy or the ability to provide transportation to and from appointments. There are so many ways to create community and provide person-centered care.

“It takes someone special. Someone who truly wants to work with the older population to join our team.” says Justin Lewis, Human Resources Recruiter. “There is such a diverse team of individuals who bring so much to the community and each and everyone’s uniqueness enriches the lives of our residents.”

Author’s Note: This article has been written in memory of Dr. McIlwaine and Mrs. Binkley, both of whom passed away shortly after the photos were taken. It has been an honor to walk this journey with them and we thank them for allowing us to be a part of their lives.