Coal Miner’s Daughter selected as Community Homes April Resident of the Month.
Dottie Readler was born in 1935 into a life of sharing and caring. She is child number 13 of 15 in the family of Coal Miner Freas and Ruth Smith, a busy household to say the least, in the small town of Wapwollopen, Pennsylvania, near Hazleton.
“We were a loving family,” Dottie remembers,” and taking care of each other was a way of life. I still really care about people.”
Dottie moved into Hill Terrace in 2015, downsizing from larger living space on South 2nd Street in Lebanon. It did not take long for her caring spirit to show itself. She volunteered to become a Resident Assistant, which gave her responsibilities to interact with fellow residents one-on-one to help them with their day-to-day problems and run errands for them. “If someone is in distress, I always try to be on help, sometime even calling 911 for them. It is the neighborly thing to do,” Dottie says.
Senior Citizen Patient Advocate
Dottie learned that some seniors are ‘put out to pasture’ when they still can contribute to society. “They have the ability to ask their own questions and have a ‘voice’ in discussing their final wishes with others.” This is based on her interactions with seniors she has met in retirement homes and nursing care facilities.
Dottie is always looking for opportunities to help others. She was involved in the Lebanon County Aging Agency, where she met Kathy Hetrick, Kathy introduced Dottie to the Advance Care Planning Coalition, which led to an introduction to WellSpan Horizon and Advance Care Planning Manager Roberta Geidner. As a result, Dottie became a senior citizen patient advocate for WellSpan Health. Her empathetic nature with seniors helped them cope with options related to end-of-life decisions.
Dottie also devoted volunteer time to helping beautify the exteriors of both Hill terrace and Oak Terrace. “It is healthy to stay active this way,” she says.
Health problems a year ago, combined with pandemic-related changes prompted Dottie to cut back on her Resident Assistant duties, but she is still actively pursuing ways to help others.
Dottie is quick to mention her appreciation for the Community Homes staff. “I feel blessed to be living here. I love my apartment. I also like being around the staff people. If I ask them something they cannot answer on the spot, they always get back to me quickly.”
She continues, “And when management people like Mr. Charlie Rush or Board members visit the building, they always take the time to say hello. Mr. Rush once arranged for me to participate in a seminar to help others. I still review the materials and it helps me be a better person.”
Jane Keller, the Director of Resident Services, at Community Homes gave recognition to Dottie, who came up with an idea that resulted in an important safety measure in all the Community Homes residents “Dottie suggested that we post photos of the maintenance staff in the common areas of each Terrace. It is a possibility that a non-Community Homes employee could try to identify him or herself as a maintenance person to gain access to their apartments. The maintenance department staff photos deter that possibility.”
When Dottie was young, she dreamed of becoming a nurse (logical for a caring person) but her responsibilities of being part of a large family prevented her dream from becoming reality.
She had to fend for herself after graduation from Nesepek High School in 1953. She worked for various companies before finding purposeful employment as a transcriptionist in the Radiology Department, and then Bloomsburg Hospital.
In 1961, she moved to Lebanon. After a brief period of unemployment, she was referred to Dr. Richard Hoffman by a former employer. This resulted in becoming a medical transcriptionist for Dr. Hoffman. She was a perfect fit for this opportunity!
Dottie speaks with pride about her son, Dean, and two grandchildren, Alex, and Grace. “Dean is a retired State Policeman, and Air Force veteran. “Dean dreamed of being a policeman even when he was in kindergarten. I am so happy his dream came true. And he always has time for mom,” she says with a smile. “Alex is in the navy. He steers the ship, a big responsibility” Her granddaughter Grace is 18 and plans to open her own Beauty Salon. “She is a very talented cosmetologist and has a bright future,” says the proud grandmother.
What makes you proud?
When asked “What makes you proud, Dottie?” She responded, “God gave me life, and gave me a son. I am also proud to be a citizen of the USA. Our country allows us the freedom to live our lives the way we want.”
The more we meet Residents of the Month like Dottie Readler, the more we believe her views are correct – do not be quite so anxious to put our seniors out to pasture. There is a lot we can learn from our seniors if we take the time to listen.