Getting to know Greg Spring

IMG_1037-ppBC-2For nearly 20 years, Greg Spring was a youth pastor. He likes to joke that it was good preparation for being a chaplain in a senior living community. Young adults and seniors aren’t so different after all, he said.

“They all have a sense of humor, and they like to have a good time,” Greg said.

Greg became the new chaplain at Wichita Presbyterian Manor in January. He was excited to return to ministry work after his last position as a hospice chaplain came to an end. But he hasn’t been idle. Even while he was still at the hospice, Greg had a second job — as a part-time UPS driver. He would start loading trucks at 4 a.m., finish around 9, and head off to the hospice. The physical work suited him, Greg said.

But when he went full time at UPS, he would come home exhausted and miss out on family time. (Greg’s wife, Karen, is a fourth grade teacher in Valley Center, and they have two grown sons.)

He kept looking for an organization in need of a chaplain. With a music degree from Arlington Baptist College and a master’s in chaplain ministry from Liberty University, it’s where he felt he belonged. “I told my supervisor at UPS, this is my education and my experience. This is where my talents and gifts are,” Greg said. “I’d just been waiting for opportunity to jump back in.”

Finally, he discovered Presbyterian Manor had a position open. He met with Executive Director Dawn Veh and had a good feeling. “I enjoyed her attitude about the people, and how she makes them a priority,” Greg said.

For his first couple of months, Greg said he was been working to learn a little about everyone here, from residents to staff members. Sometimes he pitches in for transportation, driving residents to doctors’ appointments and chatting as they go. “I just have to talk for a few minutes to make some connection with people. I either knew their pastor or where they worked,” Greg said. He even discovered that one resident used to work in his junior high school office, and he brought a yearbook to share with her.

The chaplain’s service extends to staff members, too. With 180 employees at Wichita Presbyterian Manor, Greg said he wants to be available to them, too. “This ministry is not just with the residents, to be a comfort and encouragement to them. There is a ministry on a whole different level with the employees,” he said.

Please remember to give a warm welcome to Chaplain Greg. We’re happy to have you on the Presbyterian Manor team!

Bears to share

Eleano ralls bears-2Eleanor Ralls was all set to make quilts for her two small grandsons in Pennsylvania. But then her daughter had a different idea. She asked her mother to make the boys teddy bears.

Eleanor had never consider making stuffed animals, but she agreed. Then she made a few more bears. And a few more.

“It gave me something to do, instead of watching TV all day. When I got a bunch of extras, I gave them to the hospital,” Eleanor said. “I never thought I would make as many as I have.”

That was about 20 years ago. Eleanor numbered the bears for many years, but she stopped counting at 563. There have probably been a few dozen since then. It takes a couple of weeks to make a couple of bears, she said. She has given 20 each to St. Francis and Wesley medical centers for their children’s hospitals. And she made 19 for her own doctor.

“My doctor says that when a family comes in with kids, they find one of those bears and they hug it, and it makes them so happy. And that makes me happy,” she said. “I took three to him this last week. And he’s still just tickled with them.”

The toys have traveled well beyond Kansas. Eleanor’s son took several with him on two trips to Guatemala. Others have been sent to California, Canada, Texas, Virginia, and beyond.

Eleanor’s daughter, who raises horses and dogs near Augusta, helps supply her mother with material – especially old denim. Eleanor also makes dog beds for the puppies her daughter raises. Her Bernina sewing machine has been put through its paces. “As long as it’ll sew, I’m using it,” she said.
Since Eleanor’s husband died about 10 years ago, her children have gravitated back toward Kansas to be closer to her.

The boys who got the first bears are now all grown up. When they moved back from Pennsylvania, the younger grandson – now 25 — brought along 13 handmade bears that his grandmother had sent to him. He’s put them away for safekeeping until he can pass them on to children of his own.

Resident no stranger to volunteering

wpm_hartwell_3-17 (2)-2Resident Marty Hartwell is no stranger to volunteering. She has been keeping busy for many years working closely with the public, trying to make a difference and help others.

She started volunteering before she retired from her work as a pharmacist, more than 28 years ago. Her late husband, Chuck, began volunteering at Botanica when it first opened. She would tag along and help him every now and then, and help with the big events. These days, she spends her time volunteering at Wesley Medical Center, the Senior Center, and Botanica.
Just this year, she turned over her position as Social Chairman of Wesley Friends, a position she held for the last 16 years. At the hospital, you can find her stuffing handmade pillows with a group that makes them for children who are patients. They usually make about 350 pillows every time they meet and have donated thousands over the years.

At the Senior Center, she helps with distribution of the monthly newsletter, mailed out to thousands of seniors in the Wichita community. She loves spending time at Botanica and has logged more than 10,000 volunteer hours with them, an honor she shares with just a handful of others. Botanica has been a place of refuge and peace for Marty. After her husband passed, Botanica was like her family, helping her to get through her loss. One of her favorite jobs is planting pansies in the Pansy House. She loves being able to interact with the community and enjoys the seeing the gardens in full bloom.
Marty says volunteering “makes me a happy woman. It keeps me happy.”
Volunteer Scott Porter: Serving with the gifts he’s given

When Scott Porter’s mother lived at Wichita Presbyterian Manor, she wasn’t able to attend church on Sundays. So Scott brought church to her. He would bring his guitar and sing for his mother. Eventually, other residents asked if they could listen, too. So they moved into a common area where anyone could join them.

That was more than 10 years ago. Scott’s mother moved away from Presbyterian Manor, but the activities staff asked if he would keep coming to play music. He agreed. Now, Scott visits regularly to play hymns and lead a short bible study for health care and memory care residents.

“I feel like this is a worthwhile thing, and it’s something I can do. I enjoy it,” he said.

Scott said he loves seeing residents join in and sing along even if they are usually not very communicative otherwise. “Sometimes the hymns really bring them out of it. We’ve had people who wouldn’t speak at all, but as soon as I start a hymn they would start singing.”

Thank you, Scott, for giving so many hours of your time over the years to serve our residents!

Kim Tuhro: “Unexpected blessing”
When Kim Tuhro first offered to be a volunteer at Wichita Presbyterian Manor, she assumed the staff would use her in a variety of roles, wherever there was a need. As it turns out, she has been doing the same thing every week for nearly a year. And she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I did mention that I like to sing” when she was first interviewed about helping with residents, Kim said. “When I first got to volunteer, I was asked to help lead a sing-along. I thought it would change, but it is neat that it has stayed singing, because that’s something I really like to do. It was an unexpected blessing.”

Kim sang in choirs while growing up, through college, and continues to sing at her church. For sing-alongs in our health care and memory care neighborhoods, she usually prepares a few well-known easy tunes as well as some favorite hymns. She does it all a capella, without any recorded music or instruments.

“They’re excited during the time I am there, and that’s rewarding,” Kim said. “Some of them sing along, and some don’t, which is OK. Of course I love when they’ll sing with me.”

Kim lives within a mile of Presbyterian Manor, but there’s another reason she specifically chose to serve with us: her grandparents were residents when she was growing up in the 1990s. “It was a special place for me because of that.”

“It’s nice to feel useful when I’m there, and I usually do feel appreciated and feel like I’m bringing some encouragement. Most every time that I’m there I feel that,” Kim added.

Volunteer reception
You are invited to join us on Tuesday, April 25, for the Volunteer Appreciation reception at 3 p.m. in the Westwind Dining Room. Mini sandwiches and dessert bites will be served.

Making a memoir a reality

At 87, she wrote her life story and created a family treasure

By Edmund O. Lawler for Next Avenue


When my mother was a teenager, she got to meet the most famous athlete of the 20th century.

It was 1947. Babe Ruth, by then stricken with throat cancer, granted my mom and her sister a private audience in the beautiful Manhattan apartment he shared with his wife, Claire. The girls, accompanied by their mother, were awestruck as the now-retired Sultan of Swat autographed photos and chatted amiably with them about baseball in a painfully raspy voice. My mom didn’t have the heart to tell the Babe, who would die a year later, that she was a fan of her hometown Chicago White Sox.

My mom was celebrating her recent high school graduation with a train trip from Chicago to New York where she rode the coasters at Coney Island, beheld the Statue of Liberty and dined at the Stork Club. The visit with Babe was a complete surprise — arranged by her businessman father and one of his confidants in New York City.

Read More >

Your plain English guide to investment jargon

Definitions of 5 stock market terms you’ll want to know

By Jack Fehr for Next Avenue


Credit: Thinkstock

As the stock market continues its gyrations, now is a good time to buy an investment with a favorable NAV and alpha that keeps on giving while reducing beta.

Got that?

If not, don’t be embarrassed. Investment companies and financial advisers love to load up their materials with this kind of jargon. Too bad they don’t just say something like this (a plain-English translation of the first sentence in this article): “You might want to buy an investment that is likely to grow faster and experience less risk than alternatives.”

Well, some actually do, but many still don’t. If companies aren’t willing to talk to you in a language you understand, it’s up to you to decipher their financial-speak.

Read More >