A Christmas Gift
A Christmas story that began in December, 2006 ended in a New Year’s gift that will benefit our residents for years to come.
Vincent Warkala was a high school basketball standout who gave up a college scholarship to go to work for Procter and Gamble because his father, an immigrant from Lithuania, was laid off from New Jersey Central Railroad. World War II took him to Italy with the US Army and was awarded a Purple Heart. In 1946, Vincent returned to Rutgers University School of Business during the day and served as a police office in Elizabeth, N.J. at night. After graduation in 1948, he married his high school sweetheart, Ann. He earned his M.B.A. at N.Y.U. while still working nights as a police officer. Working as a personnel administrator in both the private and the public sectors eventually lead Vincent to become the administrator of a 102 bed skilled nursing community in Scranton, PA. Along the way he retired from the US Army Reserves as a Major. Ann, who had been a champion swimmer, shared Vincent’s love of life. Together they raised three children and doted on three grandchildren. “Dad always taught us to stand straight and tall and not throw the ball ‘like a girl’,” recalls daughter Debra.
Vincent and Ann retired in the Poconos and then faced health challenges. Ann’s entry to a local nursing home left Vincent home alone and his family concerned about his welfare. Vincent visited her daily, and on a visit in the spring of 2000 he slipped, fell, and broke his hip. Doctors recommended Personal Care and The Easton Home was suggested by a family member. With daughter Debra living in Easton, PA and son Glenn nearby in Milford, New Jersey, Presbyterian Senior Living communities seemed perfectly placed to provide the high quality of services needed. While Vincent waited for a room at The Easton Home, he arranged for Ann to be moved to Kirkland Village in Bethlehem. The whole family felt immediately that this was the place for their mother.
Arriving in 2000, Ann spent her final months in the Kirkland Village Health Center. Vincent moved to The Easton Home in May of 2000. Said son Glenn, “This was the place for Dad. Always very social, Dad spent about five and one-half happy years at The Easton Home and thought of it as his home and the home of his friends.”
Vincent enjoyed the men’s Yellow Shirt Club and visits from the Delta Phi Sorority from nearby Lafayette College. Fond of conversation, singing, dancing, and telling stories, he often could be found holding court from his choice chair in the living room. Peggy Castronova, Marketing Director of The Home said, “He was very well liked here. And he loved helping other residents.”
In early 2006 Vincent’s changing health conditions lead him to the familiar Kirkland Village Health Center. “We always knew where Vincent was,” said the staff – following the laughter, the singing and the joking that surrounded him wherever he was.
In late December, 2006, Glenn and his father began to think about a gift to Presbyterian Senior Living, in gratitude for the happy years Vincent and his wife had experienced. A charitable gift annuity seemed a wonderful way to support the Presbyterian Senior Living mission and also provide a regular income stream for Vincent. (At age 89, the 11% interest rate for a CGA was a very attractive option). “With the positive experience my mother had at Kirkland, and my father first at The Easton Home, then Kirkland, I was pleased to learn he could make as gift that would help both facilities as well as him,” said Glenn.
Glenn was impressed with Presbyterian Senior Living’s commitment to charitable care, but wanted to check with the two community directors to see how they would like the ultimate gift applied. A split between charitable care and capital projects at each community was the result. It was a win-win for Vincent as well as Presbyterian Senior Living, helping him with capital gains as well achieving philanthropic goals.
Then, as the gift annuity agreement was ready to be signed, on January 9, 2007, Vincent died – almost a year to the day that he had come to Kirkland Village. In a telephone call sharing the news with Rachel Osborn, Regional Director of Mission Support, Glenn said simply, “Since we haven’t signed the paperwork, can we just make it a direct gift to Presbyterian Senior Living.”
This wonderful gift from Vincent Warkala will enable Kirkland Village and The Easton Home to achieve four long-held dreams for our residents. At Kirkland Village, a beautifully landscaped area will be created just outside the soon-to-open Fitness and Aquatic Center. The Easton Home will re-landscape its inner courtyard, enticing more residents to go outdoors. Administrator Paul Cercone will complete his popular Memory Lane mural refurbishment project in the secure Chapelwood unit. And, perhaps best of all, the majority of the gift will be used to establish an endowment fund for charitable care for residents at The Easton Home, called The Easton Home Fund. “Our commitment to charitable care was more than $200,000 in 2006 alone,” said Paul Cercone. “This new endowment fund will bring incredible peace of mind to our residents and their families. We loved Vincent. We will be forever grateful to the Warkala family.”
Vincent Warkala was treasure to two Presbyterian Senior Living communities. Now, his memory will live on in a magnificent gift from the heart of a grateful family.