Navy veteran recalls the second tragedy at Pearl Harbor

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Paul Greenwell, a Navy veteran, who lives at National Church Residences Lincoln Village in Columbus.

By LANCE CRANMER                                                                   lcranmer@nationalchurchresidences.org

COLUMBUS – Paul Greenwell has no shortage of stories about his time in the Navy.

Diving in Connecticut’s Thames River wearing a homemade helmet constructed out of a five-gallon bucket … time spent on Midway Island in the Pacific watching the rising tide swallow up half of the base airport’s runway for a few hours each day … making a 320-foot dive while in deep sea diving school in Washington D.C. … and so many more.

But it’s the one that almost no one knows about that really brings out the passion in his voice.

“I’ll tell you something that is not in history books,” Greenwell said with a knowing grin as he sat in the community room at National Church Residences Lincoln Village on the west side of Columbus, Ohio. “May 21, 1944 was the second tragedy of Pearl Harbor.”

Known today as the “West Loch disaster,” the incident was kept a classified secret by the United States government for nearly two decades. Details of the disaster were released in 1960, but by then, enough time had passed that it failed to draw much public attention.

“There were 10 LSTs (Landing Ship Tank) loading ammunition at night, at dusk,” Greenwell said.

Although the government never announced an official cause, it is believed that the initial explosion happened when a mortar round on LST-353 detonated during an unloading operation.

The explosion rocked several of the ships, which were being packed with ammunitions in advance of an upcoming mission. Fire quickly spread from ship-to-ship as Sailors and Marines scrambled to get to safety.

“When I got there they were just raising (LST-480),” Greenwell said. “They sent us in, about 12 to 14 divers. We welded patches onto the ship to try and make it water tight.”

As a 2nd Class Diver, Greenwell had extensive experience diving to patch ships that had been damaged.

“One of my jobs was to crawl inside the torpedo tube and slide down inside it to see if there were any nicks,” he said.

This time, the situation was far more dire.

“(Many) lives were lost when those ships went down,” he said. “They were swimming through the burning oil on top of the water.”

As Greenwell and his fellow divers worked frantically to repair the sinking LST 480, he remembers the moment that changed everything.

“I was using a cutting torch on the bulkhead of the ship. I cut into an oil line,” he said. “The two didn’t mix. It exploded.”

Greenwell said a buddy of his was coming out of one of the ship’s hatches with his arms up in the air when the explosion happened.

“He wound up on the tank deck,” he said. “I blew up about 50 foot through the water. I was bleeding bad.”

An injured Greenwell made his way to safety and was examined by a doctor.

“The doctor said I had a slight concussion and I had a perforated ear drum,” he said. “The doctor said I’d get a Purple Heart. I never did get that. It’s OK. I didn’t want one.”

Officially it is said that 163 naval personnel died that day. Other sources have estimated the overall death total to be as high as 392 with an additional 400 wounded – including Greenwell.

A little more than a year later – the day before Thanksgiving 1945, in fact – Greenwell’s three-year Navy career was over and he returned to his job as a lake patrol officer on Illinois’ Lake Decatur before moving on to a bigger career.

“I worked for the federal government for 28 years as an industrial engineer,” he said.

He spent 22 years in active ministry as a pastor and finally became a counsellor at Reynoldsburg High School near Columbus before retiring to Lincoln Village.

“I always wanted to be a diver,” he said, looking back on his military career. “I weighed 119 pounds and the suit weighed 190.”

During his time in the Navy, Greenwell said that he “worked on every submarine in the Pacific fleet.”

Years after his retirement, he toured a decommissioned sub that was on display in Alabama.

“When I was in Mobile on that sub, they had pictures of the old crew members on display,” he said. “I recognized some of the faces.”

Bristol Village Olympians bring home 27 medals

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Several of the members of the Bristol Village Senior Olympics team pose with their medals in the courtyard of the Glenn Center in Waverly. Pictured are, left to right, Judy Doll, Otto Zingg, Betsy Hall, Marj Andrus, Ken Love, Mary McElhaney, Sherry Sapienza, Frankie Rinehart, Len Nasman and Gareth Baker.

By LANCE CRANMER                                                              lcranmer@nationalchurchresidences.org

WAVERLY, Ohio – When Marj Andrus stepped to the podium to receive her gold medal, the Senior Olympian from Bristol Village ran into an issue.

To combat the hot summer sun in her events – the 1500- and 5000-meter racewalk – the 98-year old is never without a large, colorful hat.

“That’s the problem,” Marj said. “You can’t get the medal over your head with the hat on. You just need a longer ribbon!”

Marj is one of 17 senior athletes who represented Bristol Village earlier this summer in the Ohio Senior Olympics in the Columbus suburb of Westerville. Altogether, the Bristol Village Olympians brought home 27 medals – including 13 gold, seven silver and seven bronze.

“I had to learn a new walk,” said Marj, who for many years has started each day with a long morning walk to McDonald’s for ice cream. “(For the racewalk) you have to walk with your knees stiff. I had to focus so much on my knees that I didn’t have time to get nervous. Then someone stuck out their hand and stopped me and said, ‘you’re here!’”

“They told us Marj probably had a Senior Olympic record in the 5,000 meters,” said Betsy Hall, who organized the athletics team at Bristol Village. “At 98-years old, they don’t know of anyone else that age who has done it.”

“They told me the record for just for the US and Canada,” Marj added. “I thought, ‘Canada? That’s big enough!”

Betsy, a marathon runner for 21 years, has competed in four National Senior Olympics, winning three gold, one silver and two bronze medals.

Thanks to her enthusiasm for the competition, several of her friends began participating as well.

“It was Betsy,” said Otto Zingg, a medalist in golf and pickleball at the Ohio Senior Olympics. “She started to promote it and encouraged us to participate.

“I thought, well, I’ll do it.”

Otto teamed with Gareth Baker to earn a bronze medal in doubles pickleball – a tennis-like sport played with a wiffleball and paddles – and earned a silver in golf.

“I just turned 80 in June,” he said. “I figured there were not too many others in that age category so I had a good chance to medal.”

Frankie Rinehart also got involved with the Senior Olympics with Betsy’s encouragement.

“Good thing I have this friend,” she said, pointing to Betsy. “I’m kind of an athletic person. So when she said, ‘let’s go,’ I just went.”

Frankie won a gold medal in the 1500-meter and 5000-meter racewalk, a gold in women’s singles table tennis and a silver in women’s doubles table tennis alongside Betsy.

Each of the Bristol Village residents who brought home medals from the Ohio Senior Olympics is now qualified for the upcoming regional Senior Olympics event to be held in Portsmouth, Ohio, in September.

“I can do it. Up to 10 miles. After 10 it’s too much,” Marj said with a smile as she turned to look at Betsy. “If you think I can, Betsy, I will!”

Those who medal at the regional event have the chance to qualify for the 2017 National Senior Olympics in Birmingham, Alabama from June 2-15.

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The 1500-meter racewalk winners at the Ohio Senior Olympics.

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The Bristol Village table tennis team at the 2016 Ohio Senior Olympics.

Program brings food to central Ohio seniors in need

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Residents at Meadowview Village Apartments in Mount Sterling, Ohio, sort through donated food last week. Each resident that signs up can walk through and pick up groceries.

By LANCE CRANMER                                                          LCranmer@NationalChurchResidences.org

COLUMBUS – April Huber watched as her residents filed in to the community room five at a time holding bags and baskets, waiting their turn to walk through and collect their supply of donated food.

“It doesn’t matter if we have one thing to give or 1,000 things … everything helps,” said April, the Senior Property Manager at National Church Residences Lincoln Gardens.

Three years ago, April secured a monthly food donation from the Mid-Ohio Food Bank to benefit the 100 low-income seniors who live at Lincoln Gardens.

“For some of them, as little as $343 is their monthly income. Some only get $16 to $32 a month in food stamps,” April said. “Having this food, especially at the end of the month, is such a help. This means a lot to them.”

April said she initially got the property on a waiting list with Mid-Ohio Food Bank, a non-profit that has served Central Ohio on the mission to end hunger since 1980, before becoming a regular once-a-month stop.

Seeking to help another National Church Residences property that was in great need, April made an additional request to Mid-Ohio to see if the organization could help Meadowview Village, located roughly 25 miles away in rural Mt. Sterling, Ohio.

“When we asked Mid-Ohio Food Bank if we could take food down there, even though it is in Madison County, they said sure,” April said.

Tammy Justice began her career at National Church Residences working under April at Lincoln Gardens. A year ago she made the transition to becoming the Property Manager at Meadowview.

“April recruited me,” Tammy said. “She knew this property and she knew the needs of the community. Now that we are at full occupancy, there’s an even bigger need.”

Nearly two years ago the only grocery store in Mt. Sterling, a community with a population of less than 1,800, closed down leaving Meadowview residents without a nearby place to get groceries.

“A lot of our residents don’t drive,” Tammy said. “The nearest store is probably in Washington Court House, which is about 20 minutes away.”

Tammy said when Meadowview residents are able to make grocery runs, they make sure to take care of each other.

“If one is going to the grocery store and they have a neighbor who doesn’t have a car,” she said, “they knock on their door and ask if they need anything or if they want to go with them.”

Having the food brought straight to their building, however, is a Godsend.

“They get a 5- or 10-pound bag of potatoes, some onions, fruit, milk – they get between $50 to $80 worth of groceries,” Tammy said. “For one person who lives alone, that’s pretty good.”

Since she arrived at Meadowview, Tammy has helped multiple formerly homeless into the building. She said, at first, getting them back on their feet is a challenge.

“They don’t have money for things like groceries,” she said. “The donations we get from Mid-Ohio Food bank are such a big help for them.”

According to information released by the Mayo Clinic, currently 10 million Americans aged 50 or older are considered “food insecure,” meaning that they do not have reliable access to food.

A 2014 study conducted by Feeding America found that seniors who suffer from being food insecure are at higher risk for chronic health conditions and depression. Food insecurity has been found to be a strong predictor of health problems in seniors as it leads to reduced muscle mass, lower bone density, poor vision and an increased likelihood to report heart problems.

April said the monthly food delivery to Lincoln Gardens has been very important to her residents.

“These are the people programs like this are meant to benefit,” she said.

“You’ve got people who will come up to you two or three days from now and just say, ‘thank you for the food,’” added Tammy. “I think it’s a big help.”

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Food from the Mid-Ohio Food Bank is first delivered to Lincoln Gardens (pictured here) and the surplus is later driven south to Meadowview.

Seniors give warm donations to National Church Residences hospice patients

 

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Clients at National Church Residences Center for Senior Health on Livingston Avenue in Columbus work on knitting hats and shawls for hospice patients.

By LANCE CRANMER                                                              lcranmer@nationalchurchresidences.org

COLUMBUS – Margaret could quickly crochet hats. Barbara spent her free time making shawls.

Before long, their passion and skill with needles and thread began to spread around the National Church Residences Center for Senior Health on Livingston Avenue.

“It was one winter when we had all the clients together in one room. One lady did hats. One did blankets,” said DeVonne Tucker, a volunteer at in the Center for Senior Health’s Adult Day program. “I knew how to crochet, so some of the things that these two ladies were doing I learned.”

Eventually, several other clients joined in and the casual knitting group became an every-Thursday activity.

Roughly 18 months later, the small-but-dedicated group of seniors pooled together all of the items they made and donated them to be given as gifts to National Church Residences hospice patients.

“This was really unique for the folks at our Adult Day centers to share their time and talents in such a lovely way to brighten someone else’s day,” said Deana Thatcher, National Church Residences Hospice Director. “When someone is in hospice care, anything that can brighten their day is so wonderful. Hospice is based around improving the quality of life for our patients. When they get a gift they weren’t expecting, it brightens their day. And it brightens the day of those who care for them just to see them happy.”

For many years now the seniors at Center for Senior Health Livingston have found ways to participate in charitable programs to benefit their community.

“We started this huge civic engagement program here,” said Terri Napletana, the Site Manager at CSHL. “We let clients pick out organizations they want to donate to. Then we do fundraisers.”

At first they assembled care packages to give to the formerly homeless and disabled military veterans who were moving in next door at National Church Residences Commons at Livingston. Later they raised money to purchase winter coats for the children at a nearby church.

Then came the idea of crocheting hats and blankets.

“My sister was going through chemotherapy and someone gave her a shawl to use while she was getting her treatments,” Terri said. “She said it was a lifesaver.”

DeVonne and Terri organized the group that met every week to make the hats and blankets.

“Some people couldn’t crochet, so DeVonne came up with little dogs that people could make,” Terri said. “In the beginning we would sell the dogs to get money to buy more yarn.”

After a year-and-a-half of work, on June 2 the group donated 11 sets of hats and shawls, eight adult hats, three children’s hats and two lap blankets to the National Church Residences hospice team with a small ceremony at the Livingston center.

“The whole idea of the civic engagement is there,” Terri said. “We want to give back. They love to give back.”

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Michelle Barnhart, Volunteer Coordinator, DeVonne Tucker, volunteer, and Deana Thatcher, Hospice Director, show off some of the items Center for Senior Health clients donated to National Church Residences hospice patients.

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Staff satisfaction soars at Lincoln Village

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National Church Residences Lincoln Village Executive Director Sally Grote (back row, center) and her team recorded the organization’s highest increase in overall staff satisfaction by community this year.

By LANCE CRANMER                                                               lcranmer@nationalchurchresidences.org

COLUMBUS — A little over a year ago, National Church Residences Lincoln Village needed a helping hand.

The staff turnover rate at the assisted living facility on Columbus’ west side was unexpectedly high and overall moral was heading in the wrong direction.

At the time, Sally Grote was serving as the Assistant Executive Director at National Church Residences Chillicothe campus. But when the organization’s leadership reached out to her to lend a hand at Lincoln Village in April 2015, she was up for the new challenge.

“It’s hard to talk about how it was before, because I wasn’t here,” Sally admits. “We had to work hard to get the right staff in the right positions. It took some time.”

Sally spent two months lending a hand at Lincoln Village. Then in June, she was officially named the facility’s new Executive Director.

“I was definitely worried (about the new challenge), but just personally, I have a certain standard of how I expect things to be,” Sally said. “It’s definitely getting better. There were days where I didn’t want to leave at the end of the day. But now we have the right staff and the right procedures in place.”

After nearly one year on the job, Sally got some exciting news. According to information gathered from organization-wide surveys, staff satisfaction at Lincoln Village had increased by 24 percent in one year – the largest increase by any community in the National Church Residences family.

“We have a really strong leadership team. We worked really hard to establish relationships with everybody here, especially the staff,” Sally said. “We tried to work with the staff to find out what they’re seeing. We’re all together trying to provide quality care for these residents.”

Sally said that embracing National Church Residences President and CEO Mark Rickett’s concept of “shared leadership” has been a key to success.

“Nobody is trying to figure this out alone. We’re doing this as a team,” she said. “Our staff has owned their positions and responsibilities. We foster a learning environment. We’re trying to make our staff successful.”

Sally added that the addition of Lynette Garcia as the new Director of Nursing at Lincoln Village has also been a great help.

“We both started at the same time,” she said. “We had a lot of new staff. Maybe five employees were here before. There was a lot of turnover and we did a lot of trying to find the right people for our open positions.”

In 2016, Sally is happy to report that staff turnover at Lincoln Village is officially at zero percent.

“We have one person leaving in June, but she’s retiring,” Sally said. “We have a pretty good culture here now. It’s family-oriented and is a place where relationships matter. We’re building and growing together. We don’t have all the answers, but we seek to find them.”

Sally credits having a successful first year as an Executive Director to what she learned working for four years under the direction of Chillicothe Executive Director Karen Steinbrook.

“Working under her I learned so much. She’s an amazing woman,” Sally said. “I learned so much about this organization from the Chillicothe campus. It was a great place to learn about all things senior.  They really have it all there.”

“Sally is a wonderful person and leader,” Karen added. “She soaked up information like a sponge. I truly liked working with Sally, and I was sure that she would not last long as an assistant.”

The Happiest Place in Housing! Dayton’s Lyons Place II

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Lyons Place II Property Manager Shari Hoosier (center) and her happy residents. Lyons Place II, located in Dayton, Ohio, has the best overall resident satisfaction rating in all of National Church Residences affordable housing properties.

By LANCE CRANMER                                                                 lcranmer@nationalchurchresidences.org

DAYTON, Ohio — Walt Disney may not appreciate calling it, “The Happiest Place on Earth,” but it is certainly the most satisfied spot in all of National Church Residences.

Lyons Place II, a 55-unit affordable senior housing facility managed by National Church Residences located on the campus of the Dayton (Ohio) VA Hospital, celebrated its first anniversary in April with the knowledge that it has the highest overall customer satisfaction rating in all of the organization’s properties.

“Imagine that,” said Francis Jensen, a Navy veteran and the very first resident of Lyons Place II.  “This is a wonderful place to live. From the get-go it’s been a Godsend. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

A nationwide survey based on nine components – readiness to solve problems, responsiveness, property appearance/condition, quality of management services, quality of leasing services, quality of maintenance service, property rating, relationship rating and renewal intention – gave Lyons Place II an overall satisfaction percentage of 97.1 percent.

“This translates to happy residents and speaks clearly to our Mission,” said Pam Monroe, National Church Residences Vice President of Property Management. “This quality and level of service is a key factor in building customer loyalty and keep them at the property.”

Shari Hoosier was hired in February 2015 to become the Property Manager at Lyons Place II – bringing with her 17 years of experience in the housing field.

“My philosophy is to try to make it a place where I would want to live,” Shari said. “I wanted a place with a great quality of life and a peaceful environment where people get along and they help each other.”

Being located on the grounds of a VA hospital, Lyons Place II naturally attracted several military veterans to become residents.

“I came for an appointment at the VA and I saw they were building here,” said Melvin Garland, a Marine veteran who moved in last April. “I checked into it at the VA and they got me hooked up. It’s a good location. It’s a safe building. We look out for each other and we have a good time.”

Shari said that several of her residents had struggled with homelessness or had lived in places where they weren’t free to live the way they wanted.

“They did not have their independence,” she said. “This building gave them their independence back. It’s theirs. And it’s an independent environment.”

“The word ‘independent,’ that is a blessing. They don’t hover over you. They’re a helping hand when you need it,” said Harold Owens, Sr., who moved in shortly after the building opened.  “You can go to bed a 9 if you want. You don’t have to turn the TV off. I can watch SportsCenter as much as I want to. I do whatever I want to. For a few years you can say I’m doing it my way!”

Charles Wright, a retired business owner who just turned 80, said that he’d lived in other facilities in Dayton, but he never felt at home until he arrived at Lyons Place II in July.

“I couldn’t get acquainted with others (at the other buildings). I came here and within a week’s time I had the whole building around me,” he said. “My kids told me, ‘Dad, it’s really nice to see you happy again.’”

Shari said that a big part of what she and the rest of the staff at Lyons Place II try to do every day is to let the residents know they’re cared for.

“Showing love. Just the act of kindness. Asking how they’re doing. Asking if they need any help,” she said. “If they feel loved, they show love to each other.”

“I’ve been half-way around the world and that’s the one thing that is world-renowned: kindness,” Harold said. “One morning I was depressed and I was coming out of my apartment and I passed by the maintenance guy and he just said something nice to me. It uplifted me. I told him thank you. He didn’t even know why.”

Charles agreed that the staff at Lyons Place II makes all the difference.

“The staff here, no way in the world you could beat this staff. No good reason to even try,” he said. “If you have a problem, they’re on it like stink on a skunk.”

Shari said that when she accepted the position at Lyons Place II she prayed that the people who needed this positive environment the most would find it.

“I got the unique opportunity to meet every resident as they applied. I prayed that God send the people who truly need to be here,” she said. “Since we’ve been here, every service that we’ve needed we’ve gotten. People have donated clothes, food. Every need has been met. That’s a blessing.”

Thinking about the last year he’s spent at Lyons Place II, Francis had one final thought.

“I ain’t going nowhere else but here,” he said. “I’m home. That’s it.”

National Church Residences hospice services continue to grow in southern Ohio

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By LANCE CRANMER                                                                lcranmer@nationalchurchresidences.org

WAVERLY, Ohio – It’s far too simple of a statement to say that it takes a special kind of person to be a hospice worker.

“It is a service that really touches the patient, as well as everyone around them,” said Sandy Lawhorn, the Director of Clinical Services for National Church Residences’ hospice team at Bristol Village Health Care in Waverly, Ohio. “It not only looks at a patient and their physical illness, it focuses on a broader spectrum of what is going on in their lives. Their social needs, spiritual needs, medical needs. To work in hospice and stay in hospice takes a special kind of personality.”

Sandy has spent 24 of her 31 years in the nursing profession focused on hospice care – the last five-plus year of which have been spent with National Church Residences.

“I feel like I’m blessed with some of the best staff here,” she said. “It is a stressful job. You get attached to the people, and eventually they pass. It’s difficult.”

However, Sandy said that her hospice co-workers have a strong sense of teamwork and pull together to help each other when things become difficult.

“I’ve heard my staff when one person has a rough week and has a lot going on, I’ve witnessed other members of the staff say, ‘Hey, can I see one of your patients for you this week?’ The staff we have is just wonderful. They are so supportive of each other. They understand when a person is going through a rough week and they find ways to help each other.”

When National Church Residences began to offer hospice services in southern Ohio, it was primarily residents who received hospice care.

Today, as the services have expanded, that has changed greatly.

“We are expanding more out in the community,” Sandy said. “We are growing beyond our borders more than we initially had. It is exciting to me to see that we’re growing and reaching out instead of being in the smaller areas that we were in when I first started.”

From Bristol Village, located in Pike County, the National Church Residences hospice team now offers hospice care in surrounding counties including Ross, Scioto, Jackson and Vinton – an area that is home to nearly 233,000 Ohioans.

“About six months ago we were in the low 50s (in number of patients),” Sandy said. “Now, for the last couple of months we have had about 75 patients. We’ve grown quite a bit in just the last few months.”

Sandy said that her staff includes five full-time RNs and three contingent RNs (with two more positions to be filled soon), three full-time aides and five contingent aides, two social workers, a volunteer coordinator, a bereavement coordinator, a spiritual coordinator and two office staff.

They serve National Church Residences facilities and have contracts to serve other outlying nursing facilities and also private patients.

“We are available 24/7,” Sandy said. “If they need pain medicine, if they need a visit, we always have an RN available. We will go to their home or their facility and address that need. If they don’t have a family that is able to visit often, we fill that gap. We take them gifts and play games with them. And we have a great group of vigil volunteers that go and sit with patients when they are in the last one-to-two days of their life.”

The National Church Residences hospice staff can also provide help with Medicare issues, provide necessary medical equipment and even offer bereavement services to grieving family members.

“All of those things are covered at no cost to the patient when they’re receiving hospice services,” Sandy said.

Every six months, the hospice staff conducts a life celebration to recognize clients who have passed away.

“It is a wonderful service, very informal, with a sit-down meal,” Sandy said. “We read each person’s name and light a candle for that person. Any family that is there can share whatever they want to share about their loved one and the staff shares some of their memories, too.”