March 2017

Retiring Lutheran Home at Topton staff member did many jobs over 44 years ...

Stanley Helbert, third from left, with a number of the Topton staff colleagues with whom he has worked over the years.

March may have brought the beginning of spring, but for Stanley Helbert, this year it also brought the beginning of retirement.

Helbert ended March by ending a 44-year tenure, most recently as maintenance/security supervisor, at The Lutheran Home at Topton in Berks County, Pennsylvania.

What kept him there so long?

“It’s a great place to work!,” he says. “I have no complaints. Plus, I enjoy taking care of the residents. They’re No. 1, no matter what, and that’s what makes Topton No. 1.” 

Colleagues, though, have been equally important. “They’re all great and we always work together as a team. If there’s an emergency, we all pitch in.”

In fact, Helbert recalls an incident from several years ago. 

“It was Anniversary Day at Topton. They had food, crafts, baked goods, and all kinds of other things going on. It took two weeks to set up. It was the last Saturday in July, and it was hot. 

“As I pulled up in the rental truck with leased table and chairs, Mark Pile, Diakon’s president and CEO, pitched in to help me unload and set everything up. By the time we were done, he was sweating as bad as I was. You have to respect a guy like that.” 

Helbert began work at The Lutheran Home at Topton fresh out of high school in 1973. His job was to wash pots and pans and deliver food carts to nursing care center staff for residents.

After a time, he moved to purchasing. In that role, he purchased food for the Lutheran Home, Luther Crest in Allentown, and the former Caum Home in Reading. He later began purchasing cleaning materials and delivering supplies to the children’s cottages on campus. (The Lutheran Home at Topton began as an orphanage and by the 1970s on-campus group-home housing for children and youths was winding down as society moved toward community-based care.)

“I learned so much from these guys and, hopefully, I taught them a few things.” 

One summer, after supervisors learned that he had grown up on a farm, Helbert was asked to help run one of the home’s former farms. After that, he spent one year in the mailroom, his least favorite position.... “I hated the mailroom,” he says, “but it was a job, so I did it.” 

Finally, he joined the maintenance department, where he served for about 20 years. “If it hadn’t been for the team I had, I couldn’t have done it. I learned so much from these guys and, hopefully, I taught them a few things.”

He supervised 12 employees—nine maintenance personnel and three security guards. This role, he says, was his favorite position. 

On-the-job training—and a willingness to learn—were key ingredients of his success.

“When they told Stanley he would be doing purchasing, he said, ‘I don’t know anything about purchasing,’ and his supervisor said, ‘I will teach you, and you will learn.’ It seems he heard this several times as he was given various jobs,” says Sandra Harmon, regional employee relations manager with Diakon.

Helbert agrees: “The guys in the shop taught me a lot. Paul [Moriarty, Topton maintenance manager], my boss, taught me a lot. I’m still learning and will do so until March 31. You just have to give it your best shot!”

Helbert will be spending more time with his wife, Kathy, his daughter, Chelsie, son-in-law, Tony, and his 3-year-old granddaughter Evelyn. He’ll also continue his part-time job detailing cars. 

“I thank Diakon for the many years of service,” he says, to which Harmon adds: “It’s a two-way street. We thank Stanley Helbert for his commitment to Diakon and The Lutheran Home at Topton. And we wish him the best!”

March 31 marked the end of checking the computer for work requests for Stanley Helbert, who retired from Diakon’s The Lutheran Home at Topton after 44 years.

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