Working hard to make the world a bit more ‘normal’

Please note this page shows only a few of the many ways, beyond our medical and direct-care response, we are working to make the world better for staff and residents; in addition, it depicts only a sampling of the amazing supportive and compassionate outreach our programs and staff members have received from the community! Most photos were posted in 2020, but the most recent stems from May 2021; page updated May 4.

Together, the dedicated staff members of Diakon, our service partners, volunteers, families and the community-at-large are taking steps daily to make the world just a little more normal. We are deeply grateful for everyone’s commitment, generosity, creativity and ingenuity. 

The Lutheran Home at Topton’s Coi pond was recently enhanced by a team of independent living residents from the senior living community.

Lisa Titus and Princess Zehner of the Diakon Office of Development thank Luther Crest residents for their continuing support during the pandemic.

Frey Village is featured on the news: Adopt-a-Grandparent program

A horse ... of course! See this story on how Frey Village helped a resident celebrate her 100th birthday, despite the pandemic.

A pandemic requires special responses from special staff members. See this story about one Diakon senior living community’s “chief morale officer.”

Buffalo Valley Lutheran Village, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, received the following note, along with personalized artwork, from the family member of a resident:

Dear Nurses, Caregivers, Rehab and Administration: 

It is with sincere gratitude that I’m writing to thank each of you as you provide patience and care to my mother .... Your dedication, patience and understanding ... [are] a blessing to our entire family. During these unprecedented times … when no visitation is allowed … your genuine care and concern for the residents under your care is a true blessing to all families. What mother’s mind cannot remember, her soul will never forget—the loving, gentle care that all of you provide. Praying that all of you will be encouraged daily. Thank you for your daily health-care ministry.

A family member sent the following note to Manatawny Manor in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, via Facebook: A BIG THANK YOU to [staff], Judy and Allison, front desk, nurses, caregivers, staff, activities and everyone who went all out to make my mom’s 94th birthday extra special! She was so excited and very happy. It was a day to always remember. With gratitude ....

Hannah Phillips, Bayada music therapist, presented a free music program for residents of Manatawny Manor, Pottsville, Pennsylvania. Hannah is part of the Hannah Violet Trio.

Entertainment Sing-along with Roger performs for residents of Frey Village, Middletown, Pennsylvania.

The new world of physically distanced BINGO, as practiced at Manatawny Manor near Pottstown, Pennsylvania.

Staff members at Twining Village, Holland, Pennsylvania, enjoyed items from a food truck sponsored by Serenity Hospice for CNA week.

One Diakon senior living community tallied the virtual calls its staff made for residents and families in the three-month period following initial implementation of visitor restrictions: The calls totaled 222 for 89 different residents!

Residents of Frey Village, Middletown, Pennsylvania, enjoyed an outdoor concert presented by Brandon and Lewis Landscaping.

Staff members at Manatawny Manor in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, enjoy a variety of snacks in recognition of their care-giving, many donated by grateful family members. The senior living community thanks everyone for the generous consideration.

Elaine Kalb, a resident of the independent living community on the Ravenwood Campus of Diakon Senior Living – Hagerstown, recently created two of these wall-hangings for the skilled nursing and assisted living centers on the campus. Thank you!

A Twining Village resident who recovered from COVID-19 disease takes part in a staff celebration for her.

Top: Candy Poust, marketing and sales, and Jean Wassel, personal care administrator, both at Manatawny Manor in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, display cards donated by local churches in support of staff members at the Diakon senior living community. Bottom: staff members at Manatawny enjoy “hot-dog Monday,” thanks to donations by a family.

State Rep. Wendi Thomas, 178th district, personally delivers Personal Protective Equipment such as shields and masks, along with books, handwritten cards and activity materials for senior living residents at Twining Village in Holland, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. The items were donated by residents and schools within her district and represented the second donation of activity and related items for village residents. From left to right are Daniella Pantal, personal care administrator; Rep. Thomas; Tai Kasoro, executive director and nursing home administrator; and Patrick Donohue, senior director for marketing and sales.

A parade of staff members, not seen in this image, congratulates a resident of Twining Village in Holland, Pennsylvania, who recovered from the virus that can cause COVID-19 disease and is being discharged.

Signs at Diakon senior living communities and program sites recognize the staff heroes who serve on the front-lines of this pandemic. However, other staff members in Ministry Support and other services are heroes as well for their continuing work at offices and other locations to ensure operations continue and critical support is provided for our direct caregivers. The photos below show some of the Ministry Support staff members located in Middletown, Pennsylvania. 


Manatawny Manor, Pottstown, Pennsylvania, displays a donation of face shields from the Ford Co. (above); below, the senior living community’s staff members enjoy “Pie Day,” courtesy of a family member. Pictured is Ashley Mutter, central supply coordinator, who helps to ensure the community has a sufficient amount of Personal Protective Equipment on hand.

Photos from Mother’s Day events and resident-center activities at Manatawny Manor and The Lutheran Home at Topton.

At Manatawny Manor, in the two photos above, the nursing care staff held a Flores De Mayo procession. Staff dressed up and music featuring lyrics about flowers or mothers was played. Activity staff members decorated their respective parasols.

Staff at Twining Village in Holland, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, enjoy an appreciation event, sponsored by Serenity Hospice in honor of Nursing Home Week. Immediately above, children convey a positive message to staff and residents

Duchess and her owner, Wendy, recently visited Manatawny Manor in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. Duchess went from window to window and enjoyed seeing the resident as much as they enjoyed seeing her! (Plus bagel day as part of staff appreciation.)

Manatawny Manor in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, recognizes a contingent of its staff heroes during nurses week.

This photograph, from Manatawny Manor in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, says it all about resident reactions using Skype to connect with family members!

Gina Cooke, director of Diakon Adult Day Services at Manatawny Manor, displays a sample of the mailings adult day services staff members have been sending to clients. The day services center is closed until further notice because of the pandemic and staff regularly reach out to clients via both mail and phone calls. The packet shown includes an update letter, activity manual and photograph of staff for family members to show the clients at home.

Pottstown, Pennsylvania, area emergency personnel show support for health-care staff members at Diakon’s Manatawny Manor. Among companies participating were Ridge and Norco of Chester County and the Goodwill Steam Fire Engine Co. No. 1 of Pottstown, along with its emergency medical services organization. Everyone appreciates this wonderful show of support!

Cinco de Mayo was celebrated for staff members at Manatawny Manor in Pottstown, Pennsylvania (immediately below) ... with safe distancing being practiced ... and also at Diakon Senior Living – Hagerstown/The Ravenwood Campus (the four images below the first photo).

A birthday parade takes place at Luther Crest in Allentown, Pennsylvania, to honor a resident ... but at a safe distance and with all precautions in place.

Horses can help to brighten life ... Quinne Walborn, an LPN from Frey Village, Middletown, Pennsylvania, and her friends decided residents would enjoy an equine visit to the senior living campus. They were right!

Among the extensive outpouring of support for Diakon’s senior living communities, many organizations, volunteers and residents created masks for use by other residents and staff not required to wear higher levels of Personal Protective Equipment. At Buffalo Valley Lutheran Village, for example, Hoovers Berina Sew LLC of nearby Mifflinburg donated 300 masks. Independent-living residents Carolyn Watson and Carol Weinrich also donated 300 masks. Examples of the masks Hoovers and the residents made are shown below. 

Smiling behind the Personal Protective Equipment, staff members of Manatawny Manor in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, continue to provide the care for which they are known.

Staff members at Buffalo Valley Lutheran Village recently accentuated the Heroes Work Here them with superhero costumes! Morrison Community Living, Diakon’s culinary services partner, provided hero sandwiches for the staff members.


A grateful family donates pizza for the staff at Manatawny Manor, Pottstown, Pennsylvania.

Foster families associated with the northeastern Pennsylvania office of Diakon Adoption & Foster Care, Topton, made artwork to brighten the lives of residents of The Lutheran Home at Topton. To keep everyone safe, photographs were taken of the artwork and emailed, rather than having multiple people touch the artwork, which is being streamed on screens throughout the senior living campus. Patti Menow, permanency supervisor, developed and implemented the idea, which Joyce Riche, director, and the Rev. Coleen Kristula, chaplain of the senior living campus, coordinated in terms of having the artwork displayed. 

Example of numerous emails and other messages received from family members: I just wanted to thank you for the Zoom call with my mother ... yesterday. It eased my mind seeing and talking to her [and I hope] it made her feel better, too.”

Staff members at Lutherwood in Scranton, Pennsylvania, are focused on keeping the apartment complex’s 125 residents safe during the pandemic. They recently took time to “celebrate” the two-year anniversary of the 2018 windstorm-caused roof disaster.

News item, April 24: 

• Diakon Family Life Services in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, has received a $10,000 grant from the First Community Foundation Partnership in Williamsport for expanded implementation of telehealth mental-health services and the support of clients during the COVID-19 pandemic. Funds will be used for Zoom subscriptions for telehealth as well as staff time for telephone calls for client check-ins and virtual support groups.

The COVID-19 United Community Funds were recently launched by the foundation and regional United Ways to ensure that the region’s nonprofit community has the support it needs to continue services during the pandemic. More than $108,000 in community gifts, along with $250,000 seeded from the foundation, has allowed regional United Ways to lead a grant-making process to rapidly deploy resources to nonprofits in Columbia, Lycoming, Montour, Northumberland, Snyder, Sullivan, Tioga and Union counties.

Since opening the application April 6, the foundation-UW consortium has received more than $1.8 million in requests from 100 organizations. United Way leaders engaged 24 community members to review the Phase I applications. Grant awards totaling $301,300 are being distributed to 33 nonprofit organizations.

News item, April 24: 

• Capital BlueCross has increased its funding to food banks and other community organizations, as well as providing meals to health-care workers, first-responders and nursing home staff and residents, as part of efforts to help communities and front-line workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among recipients of the increased funding is Diakon Community Services in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, which is receiving $3,000 to support Meals on Wheels. That program has had to expand operations to meet increasing needs as older adults shelter-in-place at home.


News item, April 22: 

• Members of the Diakon Lutheran Fund Board of Directors—which oversees the organization’s investments in support of our service to people in need—today adopted a resolution thanking staff members throughout Diakon for their work during the pandemic.

Diakon Youth Services staff members at the Diakon Wilderness Center dining hall pack non-perishable food care packages to deliver to students and their families struggling in the current public-health crisis. 

Diakon recognizing its appreciation for staff at all senior living locations.

Staff members and residents of the personal care center at Manatawny Manor, Pottstown, Pennsylvania, created a “unity quilt” to demonstrate their commitment to one another during the pandemic. They wrote a poem about their experience:

Personal Care Unity Quilt
March 2020

Each square was made
from 6 feet apart.

The pieces brought to us
from an activity cart.

Each square that we made
came straight from the heart!

While keeping our distance,
yet at 6 feet apart.

That was okay because
we still had some fun.

It got pieced together and then it was
hung and it will now keep us
Forever United as one!

The local Alzheimer’s Association support group meets at The Lutheran Home at Topton but has been unable to hold its monthly meetings because of the COVID-19 emergency. The group wanted staff members at Topton to know families and clients were thinking of them, as well as to show support for caregivers and so made signs to place around the rotunda entrance of the Henry Health Care Center.

The Topton Volunteer Fire Company helped to brighten the Easter weekend for residents of The Lutheran Home at Topton.

Staff at Twining Village in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, treating colleagues to snacks including fresh popcorn.

Family members at The Lutheran Home at Topton displaying their emotion for residents and staff.

Ohesson in Lewistown, Pennsylvania, received cards and crafts that members of the region have sent to be distributed to the residents to help spread some smiles. We thank everyone for their thoughts and kindness! Such items make residents feel extra loved and appreciated. Also, at Ohesson, Andrea Cox, RNAC and Faithe Soles, employee care manager, below, distribute individual ice cream cakes to staff as an extra thank-you for everything they do.


Early on, independent-living residents of Luther Crest, Allentown, Pennsylvania, were among many people creating cloth masks (above) for use by others. Read the story of their efforts.

Below, as another example, are photos of masks independent living residents at Frey Village, Middletown, Pennsylvania, have made for other village residents. 

A Harry & David store in the Hagerstown, Maryland, area delivered thousands of dollars of treats to Diakon Senior Living for distribution to staff members.

Staff of Buffalo Valley Lutheran Village in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, donned Easter attire (in addition to their masks) to deliver chocolate bunnies to residents in the health-care center. 

Signage posted at Cumberland Crossings, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, thanking community members, businesses and organizations for their support of health-care staff members.

Utz Quality Foods delivers free snacks for staff members at Luther Crest in Allentown, Pennsylvania. At left is Executive Director Michael Christian, practicing physical-distancing with the Utz representative. Also, Luther Crest received an extensive amount of candy for both residents and staff members from Josh Early Candies, shown below.

A family communicates with a loved one while practicing physical-distancing ...

Below, staff members of Frey Village practice physical-distancing while performing lip-synch numbers for the enjoyment of residents. The event occurred during a daily broadcast to village residents, keeping everyone safe in their rooms or apartments.

News item: 4-15-2020 

The Federal Emergency Management Agency sent 576 “boxed-lunch” type meals to Diakon Community Services for distribution to MOW clients; the Pennsylvania Department of Aging paid the required matching funds, with the local Area Agency on Aging reimbursing the program for the costs of processing and delivering. Thank you!

Among resident comments received by those outside care staff:

  • “Our staff is doing a great job in such stressful circumstances.”
  • “They are all going above and beyond the call of duty to help us through all of this.”
  • “The Staff is extraordinary.”
  • “I’ve seen a lot. This is the greatest country in the world and we will get through this. I was born before the Great Depression, enlisted after Pearl Harbor, served in World War II, raised 5 children, witnessed the Cuban Missile Crisis, the assassination of JFK and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Vietnam, Woodstock, computers, 9/11 and I could go on. We will look back on this a say ‘wow, we lived through that!’”
  • “I take everything in stride; I’m 86!”
  • “I’m enjoying the solitude and reflecting on all my blessings.”
  • “As you can imagine life is very quiet here .... I feel lost without the chorus, bells and ukulele rehearsals but it’s a blessing that we’ll are going into nicer weather and walks around campus are a good thing we can do.”

Other news items ... 

  • Staff from Diakon Adult Day Services at Ravenwood worked together to make activity packets for clients and their caregivers and delivered them to their homes (adult day care is currently closed).

  • John Gallen, president of Ethosource in Morgantown, Pennsylvania, made arrangements to deliver 100 masks to The Lutheran Home at Topton. Countless others have donated masks or supplies to Diakon senior living communities.

The Rev. Mark Wimmer, vice president for Church Relations & Ministry Partnerships, regularly shares reflections with Diakon staff through our internal Care for Our Caregivers messages. One of those is copied below:

The old hymn “What a Friend we have in Jesus” has the line: “Take it to the Lord in Prayer.”

In the midst of this pandemic, praying is an ongoing action for many, many people. We pray and await a response, not certain what form the answer will take.

Diakon staff members continue to arrive at work. They care for others; deliver food; distribute medication; make phone calls on behalf of residents; clean rooms; sanitize instruments; contact families; check in on clients; offer assistance through telecommunication; maintain accounts; see that bills get paid; track income and expenses; communicate pertinent information; provide a caring, dedicated, consistent presence; and much more.

Our employees all have their own personal, family, spiritual and financial concerns. Yet, they continue to arrive at work.


Because they are answers to prayers.

Indeed, prayers are answered and Diakon employees are a proof.