Nourishing the Mind, Body and Spirit

Published: Tuesday, September 01, 2015

The lives of Glenn and Phyllis Spangler, both former residents at Passavant Community, were centered around providing nourishment, both physical and spiritual, for their family, friends and neighbors - Glenn as a farmer in his early years before his career as a truck driver, and Phyllis as a school cafeteria manager. They prepared meals together as a family with their four children, and also served their church, Second Presbyterian Church in Oil City, by organizing bereavement meals, men's breakfasts, youth fellowship socials and more.

"We basically grew up around and through the kitchen," recalls Kenda Hammer, daughter of Glenn and Phyllis. "Daddy had a huge rhubarb patch alongside the garden and I remember him even giving it away to people when they would stop by." Phyllis, Kenda said, was equally generous while working at various Oil City Area schools, providing much more than daily meals. "She always had a smile and an encouraging word for everyone she came into contact with," said daughter Julie Spangler. "They both strived to be good people."

In 2007, Glenn and Phyllis moved from their Oil City farmhouse into a cottage at Passavant Community, where they enjoyed their retirement and continued to touch the lives of the people around them. Sadly, Glenn passed away in 2011, followed by Phyllis in 2013. At that time, their children agreed that their parents wished to give back to Passavant Community in some way.

While considering donation options, they remembered that during their mother's stay, she was unhappy with the style and effectiveness of the clothing protectors she was given to wear during mealtimes. At the same time, a common and broader need surfaced within the Dining Services department that also suggested seeking a new style of mealtime protection garment for the nursing residents to wear. "This, we knew, would be the perfect way to honor our parents. Preparing and sharing food was such an important part of their lives," Julie and Kenda commented, while also recalling that their father "always" wore an apron when he cooked. In order to set a plan of action in place, Passavant's Dining Action team, which includes residents and staff, was made aware of the needs and were charged with designing and creating new aprons - those that would not only protect well, but also could please and honor the residents.

"For people who have physical limitations, keeping their clothes clean during a meal can be a challenge," said Cathy Spiker, member of the Dining Action Team. "For a resident to feel undignified every time they eat a meal is cause for dismay," she said.

Kathy Spangler, another of the Spangler's daughters, couldn't have agreed more. "The aprons add dignity for everyone who wears one at the dining table."

Spiker's careful design provided a new pattern for the aprons that are longer, more generous with added coverage over the shoulders, and lined internally with waterproof material to prevent spills from leaking through.

Residents on each floor began this tailored project with the opportunity to choose colors for their new aprons, before Spiker and her team of 12 volunteers that included residents and members of Spiker's family, lovingly sewed a total of 488 new aprons.

"I love them!" said Dorothy Cain, Passavant resident and member of the Dining Action Team. "They cover us much better and the colors are wonderful."

"This has been such a great, collaborative effort that really captured the spirit of our donation," Kenda said. "And I think our parents would be proud to know that their donation is helping others."

On behalf of the entire family, Jerry Spangler, son of Glenn and Phyllis said, "It is simply wonderful and heartwarming that our gift will serve people in such a personal way every day. What a tribute to Mother and Daddy who lived life in a personal, loving way every day. Pure grace in the form of an apron. Please use and enjoy them with love in your heart."

Pictured at right: (l to r) Julie Spangler, Kenda Hammer, Cathy Spiker and Dorothy Cain

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