Paul Moriarty, fourth from right, with Topton maintenance department team members, 2016
While services changed, the mission never has, says retiring 43-year staff member
Topton, Pa. Monday, June 24, 2019
Paul Moriarty may joke that he was “raised at The Lutheran Home at Topton”—many people served by the former children’s home were, in fact, raised there—but there is nevertheless a certain truth to his quip.
Moriarty was not much beyond childhood when his association with the organization began: “I started at the Lutheran Home,” he says, “three weeks before my 22nd birthday.”
His 43-year association with the organization came to an end recently when Moriarty retired, an occasion marked with his receipt of Diakon’s President Award. Presented by Mark Pile, president/CEO, the award is only periodically given.
“I gave it to Paul for the outstanding leadership he displayed consistently over his career,” says Pile.
Maintenance supervisor for The Lutheran Home at Topton senior living community and Diakon Ministry Support office located in Old Main, Moriarty has held a number of roles over the years. “I could not even venture a guess,” he chuckles in response to a question about how many bosses he’s had. “Dozens!”
“The changes were nonstop and were needed to keep the organization moving forward, but the mission never changed.”
He was hired by The Lutheran Home—at that time a separate organization having grown from its orphanage roots to include senior living and several community-based children and family services—“as a maintenance technician mainly focused on the HVAC systems on campus,” he says. He had worked at Agway while in high school and then in furniture-refinishing and construction before joining the Topton staff.
Eventually he assumed the role of maintenance supervisor at Luther Crest, Topton’s sister community in Allentown, Pennsylvania, before being assigned to run the maintenance, environmental services and transportation departments at both Topton and Luther Crest.
“And when we merged with Lutheran Welfare Service [of Northeastern Pennsylvania in Hazleton] to create Lutheran Services Northeast, I was assigned those campuses also.” The 2000 affiliation and later merger of Lutheran Services Northeast and Tressler Lutheran Services to create Diakon resulted in Moriarty’s being named regional maintenance director for all of those same campuses.
When those regional positions were later eliminated, “I was fortunate to be able to come back to the Topton campus because it did not have a maintenance supervisor at the time. The Topton campus with Old Main has a special place in my heart.”
Paul Moriarty, left, with Diakon President's Award, presented by Mark Pile, president/CEO, right.
One of 15 children, Moriarty credits his upbringing with the sense of mission he embodies. “I could not have asked for better parents and we were brought up in a loving house. We were taught to help anybody when needed. I was and still want to help anybody who asks and sometimes I just jump in. My wife laughs and says you don’t know how to say ‘no,’ which is probably true.”
He and his wife, Susan, whom he describes as having a huge heart, have four daughters, a son and six grandchildren and live in a house in Zionsville that was built in the late 1700s with an addition constructed in 1986.
“I always liked my job and the staff I worked with,” he says. “I got to meet so many great residents. I love to hear people I run into say that my mom, dad, uncle or aunt were at The Lutheran Home and they received the best care. That is the biggest reason I stayed—to help deliver that care!”
In fact, he adds, “the nursing staff members at Topton are special people. So caring! It was a pleasure being able to maintain the buildings and grounds so that the nursing staff, culinary services, environmental services, activities, social services and the others could do their jobs. I always looked at the maintenance department as a support service for the campus.”
“That is the biggest reason I stayed—to help deliver that care!”
Moriarty particularly enjoyed managing campus construction projects and has a special affinity for a current program. “The Girls on the Run – Lehigh Valley program”—which Diakon sponsors—“is one thing I am very proud of. The team running the program is fantastic and the program itself is fantastic! I will continue to help with the set-up and tear-down for the program’s 5K events as long as I am able. I have had one granddaughter participate in the program and many friends’ daughters.”
He has seen his share of history-in-the-making on the historic campus. “When I was hired, the 1976 addition to the Henry Health Care Center was just built and opened, plus there were about 100 to 120 children living in the cottages on the campus. In 1983, they demolished the Holton Cottage, Kehl Charles Cottages and Memorial Cottage to make room to construct Tower Court” for the senior living community, the result of changing directions in children’s services and the need to expand programming for older adults.
He also witnessed the demolition of a large, older addition to the back of the iconic Old Main building, an area partially used as a kitchen. “The changes,” he says today, “were nonstop and they were needed to keep the organization moving forward, but the mission to serve never changed.”
Now focused on “completing some projects, getting into a regular exercise routine, doing some volunteering and traveling,” Moriarty is quick to acknowledge the people who have served with him over the last four-plus decades.
“Without them, we would have not succeeded in the many mini-missions that we were challenged with throughout my career. Many of them who were direct reports to me had vast experience and talents that I did not. We would discuss problems and solutions as a team and proceed with what we thought was the best plan. I also was blessed with good supervisors, who helped me grow in my role.”
In summary, “I don’t want to start naming names as there were many, many great people, but they know who they are, both on my direct team and serving in many roles on the different campuses. I was very blessed to work with all of them.”
Paul Moriarty in his early days at The Lutheran Home at Topton.
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