Sunny Crest, personal care home in Morgantown, teaches new skills such as quilting and German

Record photos by Linda Oatman High Martha Wenger making a Braided Rug at Sunny Crest Home, Morgantown.
Record photos by Linda Oatman High Chris DeLong rug weaving at Sunny Crest Home, Morgantown.

Morgantown’s Sunny Crest Home is one of the area’s little-known secrets, assumed by some to be “not open” ever since the buffet restaurant closed.

“We are happy for the community to know what we do here at Sunny Crest,” said CEO Mary Ellen Farber of Morgantown.

Sunny Crest Home is a non-profit, licensed personal care home for individuals with intellectual and/or physical disabilities. The Habilitation program will teach new skills in quilting, German class, chair caning, weaving, painting, sewing and exercise.

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Currently housing 71 residents ranging between the ages of 28 and 82, Sunny Crest has a roster of 40 employees, including Activities Director Julie Brubaker of East Earl and the recently-appointed Assistant to the CEO/RN Melissa Kulp Brubaker of Bowmansville.

“Many of our residents are people who had previously lived at home with their parents, coming to Sunny Crest when the parents became aged and in need of long-term care,” said Farber.

The average age of the residents is 55, Farber added. Some of the residents hold jobs, at Wal-Mart, Smart Shopper, Goodwill Industries, or Lighthouse, and busses provide the transportation.

The double-wing two-floor facility is spacious and open, with a sunroom, a common area, a dining room, and the large ground floor area that serves as the Habilitation area. There are fire pits and a picnic area outdoors, as well as a memory garden and a donated koi pond.

“Sometimes we have bonfires with s’mores, mountain pies or hot dogs,” said Farber. “The residents really enjoy the social gathering around the bonfire and singing hymns.”

At times, local church groups come to Sunny Crest with groups of volunteers who work on the grounds and then enjoy the picnic area afterward.

The Habilitation initiative is one that is focused upon learning new skills, and with the help of Arts Committee and dedicated involvement of Mel Wenger, Facilities Manager, Sunny Crest will be opening the Habilitation program to people with disabilities who live in the general public as of July 1.

Some of the skills and crafts offered by the Habilitation program include quilting, German class, chair caning, weaving, painting, sewing,and exercise.

Isaac and Mary Jane Musser volunteer to lead the caning class, and they welcome the public to bring chairs for re-caning.

Artist Julie DeYoung comes in to teach painting and art, and Lydia Stoltzfus teaches quilting every Monday afternoon. The Habilitation program is fully supported by donations.

“It gives the residents a great feeling of purpose and accomplishment,” said Farber.

“After learning to make something, the residents give that product to someone in need.”

Sunny Crest residents sew bereavement pillows for Ascera Care Hospice, in which carefully-chosen articles of clothing are used to create pillows for families members of those who have passed in the Hospice program. Residents also create “comforts” – blankets or small quilts which are given to the Good Samaritan Shelter in Ephrata or the Reading Children’s Home.

“When we deliver the comforts, we take the residents along so that they can be part of seeing people receive what they create,” said Farber.

Sunny Crest residents also participate in Free Geek, an Ephrata initiative in which they volunteer 40 hours of service recycling computers, and are then given a refurbished computer for all of their hard work.

Residents have a plethora of activities from which to choose, including Cooking Club, Gardening Club, Flower Club, going to the New Holland YMCA, participating in Pet Therapy, bowling, shopping and going out to lunch. A current project is one in which residents grew gourds, dried them, created and painted birdhouses.

“We have a lot of talent here,” said Farber.

Resident Leah Conzaman writes poetry, and one of her poems is “Flowing River.”

The River flows deep and wide.

The grass is greener on the other side.

So green, so tall.

So beautiful.

So many colors in all.

Upcoming, a chicken BBQ “Welcome Spring” event will be held at Sunny Crest Home, 2587 Valley View Road, Morgantown on May 17th, 12:00 – 5:00. Cost is $10, which includes BBQ dinner, a live auction, and guest speaker Carol Cool speaking on the topic “Grow Where You Are Planted.” (A favorite saying of the late Rosene Hoover, daughter of the founders of Sunny Crest Home.) www.sunnycresthome.net

Starting next month, look for a monthly column Meet Your Sunny Crest Neighbor.