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Resident Led Initiatives

October 1, 2019
Categories: Our Community

Oftentimes a simple idea turns into something much larger than one may have imagined. Today’s blog post features several resident-led initiatives and programs that were formed from the passion and foresight of one or a few residents.

Juried Art Exhibition: Coming up on its 17th year, the Juried Art Exhibition began in 2004 as part of VMRC’s 50th Anniversary Celebration. Resident Betty Curry had a keen sense of how to bring the community to VMRC and did just that by hosting a national multimedia juried art exhibition on campus. From the start, residents Anne Shifflet and Irene Rebholz assisted Betty in making this vision a reality. Originally intended to be a one-time exhibit, it was held the next year due to its popularity and thus turned in to an annual event. Anne Pauley joined the team in 2006 and took the reins from Betty as director in 2007. Anne has since fully funded an endowment that will provide a foundation of annual support for future exhibitions. As of 2019, the fund is fully intact and continues to grow each year. Over the years, all but 5 states -- North and South Dakota, Montana, Nevada and Idaho -- have been represented in the exhibition. The show is now a hallmark of the VMRC community and draws thousands of people to the VMRC campus each June to see some of the finest pieces of artwork from around the county.

Transitional Care Center: John and Evelyn Heltzel were volunteers at The Mennonite Home, currently the site of the Woodland Park Homes, to be involved with John’s mother’s care. In 2000, the Heltzel’s moved John’s mother to the newly opened Park Gables. Several years later, in 2004, Evelyn required rehab after her return from the hospital and VMRC had nothing to offer. John proposed the idea of a rehab center and in conversation with management, VMRC agreed with John to receive $50,000 to establish the first 5 rooms and a small gym in Oak Lea for rehab. Evelyn died shortly after, but John continued his support of the rehab program until his death and left a sizable gift through his estate to establish the John and Evelyn Heltzel Endowment for Transitional Care. The funds are used to maintain up-to-date equipment for Transitional Care and the endowment nearly matches what John was giving annually until his death.

Shenandoah Valley Lyceum: The Lyceum was founded through the visionary efforts of Karl and Millicent Stutzman, residents of Park Village. Karl’s vision for the establishment of this program was that VMRC should offer and provide a series of lectures, concerts and entertainment for not only residents but the wider community. He gave the first gift in 2002 for the series. When Karl passed away, the family decided to fulfill his dream and the first gift came in December 2006. The family quickly decided to leave a lasting legacy of the lyceum and provide ongoing income through an endowed fund. The Shenandoah Valley Lyceum has created a unique opportunity to bring renowned speakers, musicians and entertainers to VMRC and fulfill Karl’s vision of engaging the broader community.

These are just a few of many resident-inspired events that have had a profound impact on the VMRC community and the greater Harrisonburg community. We are grateful for those who have been called to fulfill a passion and have given their time and resources to see it through to fruition.

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