Moving Safely During the Pandemic: The Garmans’ Story

The Garmans’ in their beautiful two bedroom cottage in front of their custom fireplace and mantle.

The Garmans waited three years for their cottage, but they never expected to be facing a pandemic and move at the same time.

Dick and Betty Garman joined the Luther Acres Priority Wait List in the fall of 2017 and enjoyed all the benefits that come with it, such as attending on-campus events and activities and use of the campus Wellness Center and pool. During that time, both enjoyed doing water aerobics several times a week at the Wellness Center and getting to know some of the residents.

“Those three years were well spent,” Betty said, referring to taking the time to gradually pare down items in preparation for their move. “And we met a lot of people during our time on the Priority Wait List, so when we moved in, we already knew many people. Now that I’m here and have more time, I’m enjoying the social aspect and will even more now that COVID restrictions are being lifted.”

The Garmans moved into their two-bedroom cottage, which they customized with a beautiful stone fireplace and mantle, in late September 2020. Because many events and activities in the general community were paused, the couple said the time allowed them to really focus on preparing for their move. After moving in, Dick and Betty had to quarantine in their cottage for two weeks, but they looked at this very positively. “We were able to concentrate on unpacking and settling in, and no one could come in and see the mess,” Betty said with a laugh. “It was hard when people wanted to stop in, and I wanted to show people the cottage so much, but we will eventually be able to do that.”

With the increased positive cases of coronavirus in the greater community, Luther Acres made the decision in late November 2020 to once again tighten COVID-19 protocols on campus, which was not long after the couple moved in. This included restrictions on campus visitation, limits on group gatherings, and closure of the campus Wellness Center. The Garmans were impacted during this time by the closure of the Wellness Center. However, they were appreciative of the ways Luther Acres continued to offer virtual wellness opportunities – such as yoga, morning stretches, and other programs shown on the campus’ closed circuit TV channel. They tuned in from the comfort of their home.

When the pandemic struck, they never reconsidered their move to Luther Acres – “not for a minute,” Betty said. “We knew there were cases here, but we understand why that was. We feel very comfortable here, and everyone is so helpful.”

Betty also took part in the Luther Acres Pen Pal program, established as a way to introduce new residents to current ones through letter writing. Since new residents couldn’t meet other residents in person, this was a way to get connected.

Betty corresponded about four times with another resident who enjoys gardening and who happens to have a garden plot right next to theirs at the Horticulture Center! Both avid gardeners, the Garmans look forward to gardening at the Luther Acres Horticulture Center, and have two plots reserved.

While Dick continues to work part-time in auto sales, he and Betty both look forward to volunteer opportunities with Luther Acres. Betty especially has a long history with Luther Acres, volunteering for many years in the skilled nursing Healthcare Center. This included playing bingo with residents, transporting residents to and from the salon, and helping residents garden in raised beds in the Healthcare Center courtyard. Their three children also volunteered with her from time to time, and their daughter worked in the Luther Acres Dining Services Department as a teenager. Betty’s mother, Mary Kaylor, benefitted from Luthercare’s Benevolent Care Fund after she moved from her campus apartment to the skilled nursing center. This fund provides support to those who, despite careful planning, outlive their financial resources. Betty also was involved in the “Walk of Ages,” an event designed to raise funds for Luther Acres and other local senior living communities by getting sponsors for the walk. Betty, her daughter, and two granddaughters took part and raised more than $1,000 for Luthercare’s Benevolent Care Fund. She continued to volunteer here in various ways after her mother passed away in 2001.

Dick and Betty celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary on October 1, 2020, and as a sign of the times, friends, neighbors and family members organized a drive-by parade to recognize them!

“It really feels like home here,” said Dick. “I’m very happy and enjoy having less responsibilities and more time to ‘putter’ every day.”

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