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People rarely succeed at anything unless they have fun doing it. In our case, my wife, Rita, and I were unsure of our journey primarily because of the uncertainty we would be facing — coming from Concord, N.H., our destination was Phoebe Berks Village in Wernersville, Pa., a continuing care retirement community under the auspices of Phoebe Ministries.

We were honored to be asked by Michael Palmieri, president and CEO of Havenwood-Heritage Heights in Concord, N.H., to represent our community in a new pilot program known as Passport to Travel, an innovative program developed and implemented by the CHHSM Senior Services Collaborative (CSSC).

Upon our arrival on a Monday morning, we were warmly greeted by Robin Staudt, administrative assistant to the Rev. Barry Galley, the executive director. From that moment on until we said our goodbyes on Saturday, it was an incredible reception by both the managerial staff and fellow residents. The memories and lasting friendships made, especially with Dick and Esther Whitney, Carl and Norma Bloss and Nick and Barbara Jacobs, are priceless. They will remain so for years to come.

About Phoebe Berks

A Victorian-style complex completed in 1994, Phoebe Berks is located on 66 rural acres near Wernersville in Berks County. The campus provides skilled nursing, rehabilitation and personal care, along with residential living apartments and cottages.

The community is owned and operated by Phoebe Ministries, a nonprofit multi-facility organization specializing in healthcare, housing and support services for seniors for more than 100 years. Scott Stevenson, the organization’s president and CEO, is a pro-active professional who places people before profits.

Passport To Travel

Eight CHHSM organizations are the founding principals of this remarkable pilot program that spans from the West Coast to the East Coast of the U.S. Michael Palmieri and Scott Stevenson are two of the eight CEOs who had a vision of getting retired seniors living in retirement communities across the country to participate in the Passport To Travel program, wherein an interested couple or individual could stay at one of 11 campuses as a guest, with the intent to experience first-hand the resident’s lifestyle.

Purpose of the Program

Passport to Travel provides a system in which residents of the respective eight CHHSM organizations are welcomed to visit and stay for a period of up to two weeks at each of the other partner organizations. This is a kind of travel exchange arrangement encouraging residents of one partner organization to discover and experience the lifestyles at another partner organization in a senior-friendly and supportive environment.

Passport to Travel also enhances marketing opportunities for the partners, helping to spread the unique features and amenities each has to offer. With the success of this program, there is the possibility to expand program participation to additional CHHSM members. The potential is enormous!

Too Old? I Think Not

John Hollinger, a 98-year-old resident at Phoebe Berks Village, is a classic example of longevity at its best, interspersed with an active lifestyle and coupled with a proper nutritional diet.

I had the great honor of sitting with this esteemed gentleman, having a one-on-one conversation with him on why he is so active for his age. He replied, “I swim three to four times each week and exercises regularly in the fitness center."

As an adder, he teaches young adults a rifle safety course off-campus and still participates competitively. John is a former Semper Fi (always faithful), the motto of the United States Marine Corps, and very proud of that fact.

Phoebe Berks Village and Havenwood-Heritage Heights Writers are comprised of multi-talented individuals with original writings by the residents. They are challenged to write, to stretch their minds, and to exercise their creativity, to give their imagination free reign…to tell a story. Each poem, story, article are priceless gems that are thought-provoking, time honored and beautifully written. We salute each one of you for your wondrous works.

The Gift Of Years

A key component in the aging process lies in simply accepting reality. As seniors, we come to learn to adjust to this new and wonderful stage of our lives, admitting to ourselves and to one another, that being a senior citizen has intrinsic value, and is something to be celebrated. For we have lived and experienced decades of time-honored memories to hold and cherish forever. The world is full of beauty when our hearts are filled with love.

And so…

Havenwood-Heritage Heights Retirement Community and Phoebe Berks Village join hand in hand in a common bond of fellowship and community, extending to those seniors who wish to explore their respective communities a heartfelt welcome through Passport to Travel. It will be a life-changing experience for you.

As we approach the golden years of our lives we come to the realization that comfort and luxury are not the chief requirements of life when all we need to make us really happy is something to be enthusiastic about.

Larry Pelland

Larry worked in the hospitality industry, serving as director of sales and marketing at a convention and visitors center.

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