Swiss Village residents find friendship at Kinder Haus

Authored by Jim Langham on Oct 21, 2011

Students attending Kinder Haus Day Care Center at Swiss Village Retirement Center are experiencing stories from at least three generations before their time.
Richard Beitler spends time these days volunteering to read to little children on a monthly basis.
"I ought to quit, I don't hear what they say to me anymore," mused Beitler. "I like to tell them little stories about my childhood. I bring a three-legged milk stool and sit on it while they gather around me. I like to read stories to them; my favorites are Mother Goose Rhymes and Bible stories.
"I like to be around kids," continued Beitler. "I like people pretty well. It makes me feel good; it blesses me, if I can only get anything across to them. They usually give me a nice hug at the end.
"That's okay," said Beitler with a big smile.
Carolyn Steiner finds great joy these days in rocking infants. The fact that she has a great grandson in Kinder Haus even makes it more meaningful to her.
"When I come, I always check to see if he is here," observed Steiner. "It makes you feel blessed if you can do something for a baby. Sometimes you wonder today how many babies are still held and loved."
"If you want to think young and stay young, spend time with these darling, innocent little babies," said Marian Habegger. "It is such a blessing to be able to do this. I rocked babies for eight years.
"I love to watch them grow," continued Habegger. "I've watched a lot of them go through infancy and early childhood; I watch now as they come back in the summer."
Habegger said that there is no way to describe what a blessing it is to touch those little fingers and little toes.
"You look at them and you realize that God made them," Habegger said. "I am so grateful that they trust me with their little ones. It is an awesome responsibility. It brings back memories of when we had our children at home. It's good for my mind; it's good for me emotionally."
Eileen Stauffer noted that she doesn't walk that well anymore, but she finds great joy in sitting and rocking the infants. In fact, she enjoys it so much that she has come back for the past three years to carry out her enjoyable hobby.
"I went through some cancer treatments sometime back but I came back as soon as I could," Stauffer said. "It boosts your spirits when little ones smile at you. It's nice when you look at them and they wave at you. I enjoy that job very much; it is such a blessing to me."
Reading to two-year-olds has grown on Lucy Price over the past two years.
"It really warms your heart," said Price. "We've had a couple of new ones recently. I look forward to seeing what they do each month. It's amazing what a month can do with them. I remember a little girl who was pretty rough when she came in here, but it's amazing what a month did for her."
Price said it's amazing what a two-year-old child can pick up in 15 minutes of reading. She noted that she likes to use a lot of vocal inflexion and the children really respond to it.
"Two-year-olds really get involved when you raise and lower your voice," Price said. "Often when they leave they give me a high five. They become so contented. It really makes me feel good."
"It's such a joy to read to the children," commented Orvilla Martin. “I began reading to four or five year olds. I hadn't done that very long and I had to take off because of surgery. I started again not too long ago."
Martin said she received help when she went to Faith and Life Bookstore and found a Bible storybook written in large print. She likes the way the book brings the learning level down to every day life.
"I really appreciate it. I used to teach some of these children in Sunday school," Martin said.
Lorraine McKean was thrilled when one of the small children from the First Mennonite Church came up to her and said, “I know you; you come to my church.
"I really enjoy rocking my great granddaughter," McKean said. "It's exciting to sing, 'Jesus Loves Me,' with her. It's nice to feel needed."

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