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A Spiritual Approach to Nourishing Your Soul

March 14, 2018

As older adults face the challenges that come along with aging, it’s easy to focus on caring for their physical health, but at VMRC, staff also recognize the importance of their spiritual health. In fact, physical and spiritual health are just two of six key pillars of wellness; the others are emotional health, mental health, social wellbeing and educational opportunity.

“Our spiritual core is the core of who we are as human beings,” said Eric Martin, Supportive Living Chaplain. “It’s like the hub of a wheel. If your wheel doesn’t have a hub, you don’t have a wheel. Our spiritual practice is important because it nurtures who we are.”

“At VMRC, we support people’s spiritual life. Yes, we’re a Christian-based community, but we welcome people of all faiths,” said Steve Landis, Residential Living Chaplain. More than 20 denominations are represented among residents.

Together, Eric and Steve promote a variety of regular spiritual practices with the common goal of encouraging VMRC residents to develop and deepen their relationship with God.

They take turns hosting weekly Sunday services including a formal morning worship service and a less formal afternoon or evening Vespers service.

“Most Sunday mornings, we bring in guest preachers who are often retired pastors from the local community,” said Steve. “VMRC is a Mennonite-based community so we often lead according to that tradition, but we also bring in pastors from other traditions such as Methodist, United Church of Christ, Church of the Brethren, Presbyterian and Catholic. The service is live streamed across campus so that residents who cannot physically make it to the service can still participate.”

The weekly Vespers program is more varied. More often than not, musical groups like the Shenandoah Valley Men’s Choir, a children’s choir or a youth group perform. At other times, guest speakers will come talk about their service projects.

Special worship services for residents and staff are held throughout the year.

“We’re always looking for ways to incorporate spiritual life and growth into the various aspects of campus life,” said Steven. “For example, we have a prayer circle for residents and staff every Tuesday at 8:00 am for a short, 15-minute period of prayer. Even our CEO starts her day with it.”

Bible studies happen regularly on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings at various campus locations.

As part of a commitment to support residents through difficult times of loss and transition, Eric and Steve host monthly spiritual support groups for residents who have lost a spouse and for residents who must now live separately from their spouse due needing different levels of care.

When the time comes to go through an end of life transition, both chaplains work with residents and their families. Then after a resident passes away, they will plan a memorial service on campus if the family would like one.

While spirituality often has a religious component, even people who are not religious can take care of their spiritual health. “Simply take time to recognize humanity and reflect on your values. Figure out what gives you meaning and do that,” said Eric.

For more information on spiritual wellness at VMRC, visit

Seven Tips To Get Your Health Back On Track

February 17, 2018

Sometimes life happens, and we stop taking care of ourselves. Then, getting back on track may seem like an insurmountable effort, but there are lots of little things that you can do to resume your return to healthier ways. Small incremental changes eventually do add up to significant change.

Tip #1: Start Moving

“The biggest thing is to start moving. Keep it simple by just moving more today than you did yesterday,” said Melinda Noland, director of the VMRC Wellness Center & Life Enrichment. “A lot more movement may seem daunting or intimidating, so take the approach of building up your movement gradually by a little bit at a time.”

Tip #2: Go for Walks

Once you get moving, keep moving. Build up to going for strolls in places like on VMRC’s Dogwood Trail, an indoor walking path that is safe, open to the public and completely protected from the elements. The Dogwood Trail has no stairs and is relatively flat, making it wheelchair and stroller friendly. Along the way, you can stop and check out art exhibits or enjoy a snack at the Main Street Cafe.

Tip #3: Eat Smarter

Make simple changes such as using milk instead of creamer in your coffee. Or pick healthier snacks that are more filling in small quantities because they have a mix of carbs, fiber and protein that makes you feel full sooner. A great example is half of a banana or apple with a tablespoon of peanut butter on top.

Tip #4: Eat Less

Most of us know what’s good and bad to eat and why, but we often overlook a very important factor in our nutrition: how much we are actually eating. Quantity is important. You can eat too much of a good thing, so be mindful about how much you consume in each of your meals and snacks.

Tip #5: Pre-Pack Your Bag

It’s human nature to avoid things that are difficult or require extra effort, so it’s a good idea to remove any obstacles that could derail your best intentions to go workout. “Always keep a small bag packed with fresh workout clothes and a towel,” said Melinda. “Then you’ll be ready to go whenever the opportunity arises; you can exercise on a whim without having to plan ahead.”

Tip #6: Recruit a Partner

Yes, you can make a date with yourself to go exercise, but you’re far more likely to keep it if you have company to hold you accountable. Plus, you’ll typically have more fun with others. “Sign up for a group class, or recruit a friend or significant other to go with you to the gym or pool. Then put it on your calendar because if you don’t, you might find a reason not to go,” said Melinda.

Tip #7: Mix It Up

Bored of the same old gym routine or tired of swimming lap after lap? Change it up. “If you are a land exerciser, try the water and vice versa. It’s always a good idea to cross train,” said Melinda.

You might also try playing pickleball or participating in a dance class. Both activities improve physical, mental and social wellness as well as coordination.

Adults 50 and over are invited to join VMRC’s Wellness Center. During the month of the February, all new members will get 65% off their enrollment fee. Contact the Wellness Center at (540) 547-3850 for more details.

Support Helps VMRC Fulfill Its Mission

January 17, 2018

VMRC strives to create a community of hope, meaning and growth for people to age well and live fully, but it can’t do it without the ongoing support of the greater community. How can you best support VMRC in 2018? Donations of money and volunteer time are essential.

Donate money

“Every year, people have to decide when they give and how they give,” said Les Helmuth, executive director of the VMRC Foundation. “People give because they believe in an organization, the people who run it, what the organization does and where it’s going. Giving to VMRC is a way to give back to people who really need help.”

VMRC has a strong history of caring for people when they have outlived their resources and run out of money. That’s accomplished through the Compassion Care Endowment and the Good Samaritan Fund. Approximately 35 residents per year benefit from these combined funding sources totalling $400,000 annually. VMRC’s entire commitment to compassion funding is between $1.3 million and $1.5 million per year; the difference is covered through VMRC’s operations.

“The Good Samaritan Fund benefits people who currently live in Woodland Park and Crestwood,” said Les. “The Compassion Endowment also funds the same group of people, but because it’s an endowment, only a portion of the investment’s earnings is used to take care of people today.”

VMRC’s total endowment is $9.1 million with a lion’s share of it - $6 million - in the Compassion Care Endowment. Ultimately a $30 to 40 million endowment will be needed to meet VMRC’s continuing care goals.

The VMRC Foundation gratefully accepts gifts of cash, highly appreciated stocks and direct gifts from IRA funds (charitable rollovers). A common way of giving for those over age 70 ½  is to direct minimum IRA distributions to VMRC with the advantage to donors being that they do not have to claim the income donated on their taxes, thus reducing their annual tax bill. Other donors may prefer to give to VMRC through bequests planned for after they’ve passed away.

GIve to VMRC’s Good Samaritan Fund.

Donate Time

VMRC has a robust and varied volunteer program with more than 600 volunteers contributing more than 46,000 hours of service in 2017.

“Study after study documents that the more you are involved and socially connected, the better your mental health, physical health and longevity will be,” said Emily Young, Volunteer Coordinator at VMRC. “There are so many things that you can do here. Many volunteers find a good match for their skills and interests.”

Community members can volunteer as part of a variety of programs including teaching art, music or wellness classes to residents and helping out at VMRC’s Willow Run Farm. Individuals with audio visual expertise are needed to help produce Sunday morning chapel services which are broadcast to residents throughout campus.

“We’re also looking for volunteers with IT experience to tutor residents with tech needs,” said Emily. “We have an increasing number of residents who want to engage with their grandchildren. They’re looking for tutoring help so that they can learn to use their smartphones and computers to communicate via text, Facebook and other platforms.”

A new role for volunteers is that of a Woodland Park House Friend. “It’s like the neighbor you had growing up who could just walk into your house, jump into whatever was going on and help with any needs in the moment,” said Emily. “We’re looking for volunteers who’ve had a lot of life experiences so they can relate to residents, family members and staff people. House friends become part of the family. They must commit to being in the house at least once per week, but it’s a flexible role so they can pick their schedule. Because it’s a volunteer experience that creates new relationships, they can really feel the impact they’re making.”

Volunteers of all ages are welcome, ranging from children to college students to young professions to older adults.

Learn more about volunteering at VMRC.


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