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Their Ticket To Ride

Thanks to the generosity of donors and seed money from a philanthropic volunteer, Good Shepherd’s long-term care residents will be getting a new van for community outings. We are so grateful to all who supported our fund raising campaign.

Elvira “Elfie” Maniatty loved many people during her lifetime, among them her husband George, her four children and the residents of the Good Shepherd Home Raker Center where she was a volunteer since 1995. Elfie also knew what she didn’t like. High on her list of frustrations was watching residents wait a long time for public transportation to pick them up when they wanted to go somewhere in the community.

Seeing an opportunity to enhance the independence and quality of life for Good Shepherd’s residents, several resident families put forth a matching gift challenge to raise money for a new van able to accommodate four residents in wheelchairs. The new van will replace an old van that will be retired.

Elfie, who lived in Allentown, passed away in March 2017 at age 77. But Elfie’s family remembers her as a woman who “led a prayerful life and had the faith of a mustard seed.” So it seemed only appropriate that with her family’s blessing, a $10,000 bequest to Good Shepherd from Elfie’s estate became the first gift towards the purchase of the van. 

But the Maniattys’ generosity didn’t stop with that first gift. George was so moved to further honor his wife’s legacy of compassion that he made an additional $10,000 gift towards the van fund. “She had backbone and she was very generous,” says George. “I would say she was always eager to support the things she believed in.”

Like the parable of the mustard seed that yielded a mighty tree providing shelter to birds, Elfie’s gift was the seed money for a successful fund raising campaign generating more than $106,000 from 576 donors. The outpouring of generosity not only covers the cost of the van but also provides additional funds for more resident outings such as holidays and special events with families, concerts at the PPL Center, plays at the Shakespeare Festival, and trips to Hershey Chocolate World and the Philadelphia Zoo.

“Elfie didn’t live to see the new van but she would have been thrilled,” says JoAnn Frey, volunteer coordinator. “She had everybody’s best interests at heart.”

Echoing that sentiment, Elfie’s daughter Antoinette says, “I think she would have liked it very much. One of the things she used to do was take residents out shopping. Sometimes they had to use public transportation, which could be challenging. She also had difficulty walking in the last few years and standing waiting for the bus was very hard.”

Elfie so enjoyed getting out and about with the residents she shared the experience with her two grandchildren. In the fall of 2015, Elfie took them on a resident shopping trip to the mall, which was both rewarding and a special memory for them.

Elfie was among Good Shepherd’s most devoted volunteers giving thousands of hours over the years; 241 hours in 2012 alone. As a resident personal assistant Elfie would visit residents weekly writing letters for them, tidying up rooms, switching seasonal clothing in and out of closets, and just being the best friend and companion she could.

“I think she had a real closeness with the residents she visited on a regular basis,” says George.

Ingrid Baruch-Lande, director of rehabilitation services for long-term care, is deeply grateful to every donor who made it possible to buy the van which will serve residents in both the Allentown and Bethlehem homes. “It is because of the kindness of our friends in the community that we are able to provide our residents with the opportunity to live a meaningful life by being able to travel with safety and dignity to places and events that bring them joy,” says Ingrid. “On behalf of all of us in long-term care at Good Shepherd, I cannot say thank you enough. Please know how very grateful we all are.”

Photo: Elvira and George Maniatty