On January 28, 1987, I drove one of my grandmother's best friends to her new home, a nearby retirement home. She didn't have any extended family, and it was a major choice for a very determined and independent woman. She was moving from her home to a one room apartment, and it was a real change. While she faced major challenges in the move, she determined that this would work, and I determined that I needed to be an advocate.
I was blessed to be called to a position as pastor of the two Sewickley Presbyterian Churches outside West Newton in 1990. In arriving at Redstone Presbytery, I was invited to come visit the Greensburg Presbyterian Home by the then chaplain, the Rev. Sylvia Carlson. Soon, I was involved in board activities, then there was an opening the board, and there I was.
I'm still wondering at the honor I have had to be associated with some extremely talented and gifted community leaders. Our administrators and board members have largely been people who have had wonderful vision for providing a safe, secure, and dignified life for those facing their future. In everything, there has been a personal touch. When I first connected with GPH, the typical resident was a bit younger and likely more mobile. A number of those folks were close friends of my Mother-in-law, Mary Lou Gettemy. Chapel services every month allowed me to meet and know some of the best folks in the world. Through the years I have been blessed by close friendships that will last forever.
It wasn't long before the 90's that our roots were in an aging building in downtown Greensburg. The first version of what we have become was a "T" of single room apartments. In the first days, a resident needed to be able to walk in. Our staffers developed ways of allowing people in our "family" to remain in place. Over the years we have become more and more sophisticated in offering care. We added apartments and enhanced care in order to increase our ability to serve. As we added structure, we were still in business for the residents. Our folks redefined skill and dedication, and I gained a new respect for their willingness to serve. I was around when we added the two new campuses. There was a lot of stress as we scrambled to complete on time and as we wrestled with finances and census. All I can say is that in light of the end results, we have been blessed. Thanks to the faithfulness and creativity of board and administration, we have become the standard for Westmoreland County against which everyone else is measured.
My family has been part of the Redstone family in a very personal way. Melinda's Aunt Stellamae Cramer was able to come to what is now the Personal Care wing, where she was able to finish her days with dignity. She was one of the early recipients of the Benevolent Care Fund, a commitment of the board that has been in effect as long as I can remember. Our Aunt Hope is presently at the Greensburg campus along with several of my church members and some dear friends. I have friends and church members at the Murrysville Campus, and in addition, my mom is at North Huntingdon along with even more friends. Looking ahead, I have made the request of my friends that they should take care of the place: Someday, Melinda and I will be up the hall.