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McFarland finds home at village

February 15, 2006|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

WILLIAMSPORT - When Emily McFarland heard about the job opening for director of communications at Williamsport Retirement Village, she jumped at the opportunity.

"I knew right away it was right for me," McFarland said.

Now, 18 months later, she is still loving her job at Williamsport Retirement Village, which is a division of the Brooke Grove Foundation.

A native of Chambersburg, Pa., McFarland, 30, graduated from Edinboro University near Erie, Pa., where she studied communications and public relations.

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Right out of school, she got a job as a case manager with the Washington County Department of Social Services in 1999. She remained there for five years with a brief sojourn to the Eastern Shore to work in a DSS office there.

Once back in Washington County, McFarland's search for a job led her to Williamsport Retirement Village while her husband, Josh, signed on with the Frederick County Sheriff's Department as a police dog handler.

A big part of McFarland's duties involve putting together three newsletters for Williamsport Retirement Village and two other sites administered by the foundation.

"There is also a volunteer newsletter that I do," she said.

She also plans community seminars, including at the public library in nearby Martinsburg, W.Va.

"Topics are sometimes based on suggestions by residents and staff or what is happening in the world," McFarland said.

For example, a seminar on Medicare changes was held recently at Williamsport.

She said she tries to balance heavy subjects with lighter fare for a good mix. There have been seminars on scrapbooking, saving money for college funds and preparing for retirement, among others.

But what McFarland likes the most is contact with the residents and she looks forward to spending time with them as often as possible.

"I like being around people, so I choose to be involved," McFarland said.

In addition to her work at Williamsport Retirement Village, she is part of Washington County CARES, which advocates for county residents and seniors; Character Counts, and the REACH cold weather shelter.

In March, McFarland and other members of the Williamsport Retirement Village staff will volunteer for a week at the shelter, greeting the people and helping to make meals.

"I also go to a lot of the events we have here at Williamsport so I can get to know more of our people," she said.

Williamsport Retirement Village has 99 nursing home beds and two assisted living homes with a combined total of 42 beds.

A walking tour of the C&O Canal is planned for June, and in the summer, residents have been treated to jet ski excursions on the Potomac River.

Residents are taken out for a meal once a week, and whenever she can, McFarland goes along. "You really get to know people sitting across a table from them," she said.

During these impromptu get-togethers, McFarland said she often finds out aspects of residents' lives that are so interesting she sometimes suggests them as subjects of feature stories in local publications.

"I love to see how happy they are when they get to tell their stories," McFarland said. "There is a lot of combined history here."

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