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Lehigh Valley nursing home sends paper chain of solidarity to Squirrel Hill community

Morning Call - 11/14/2018

Nov. 14--Links in a multicolored paper chain held messages from the residents at one nursing home in the Lehigh Valley to an assisted living facility across the state in Squirrel Hill.

Some simply said "prayers." "Prayer of hope and peace." "I'm sorry for your loss." "We stand as one."

One written by a staff member read, "We are chained together as one family as your church goes through this trying time."

Residents and staff members at Valley Manor Health and Rehabilitation Center in Coopersburg wrote words of encouragement and solidarity to the residents of Weinberg Terrace, an assisted living facility in Squirrel Hill, the Pittsburgh neighborhood where 11 people were shot and killed at the Tree of Life synagogue on Oct. 27.

They turned their 164 messages into paper links on a chain, which they plan to send to Pittsburgh.

"After the Tree of Life synagogue massacre, we were looking to find a way to reach out to the community there, show our support and solidarity," said Kyle Newfeld, an assistant administrator at Valley Manor.

He said few residents at the Coopersburg facility are Jewish.

"It doesn't matter what religion you are, what your beliefs are. As people in Pennsylvania, in America, we should all come together," Newfeld said.

Staff at the facility have been asking residents to write down their sentiments in the wake of the shooting.

"There's definitely a lot of value in our residents reaching out to others," said activity director Jenn DeAngelis. "It makes them feel important and gives them a purpose and helps them to provide support for people in the same situation they're in."

Resident Paul Heckenberger said he hopes the Weinberg Terrace residents get the message that those in Coopersburg care about them.

He said when he first heard about the shooting, he was frightened.

"I thought, what would I do? I'm in a wheelchair, and I can't run away from anything. I'm stuck in that position, and it scares me," he said.

DeAngelis said there are Jewish staff members at Valley Manor, and some residents were concerned for their feelings in the wake of the shooting.

"They were really just concerned people do this kind of thing, and people are so intolerant of other people and beliefs," she said.

mmerlin@mcall.com

610-820-6533

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