Every April and May, many people across the world, find a weekend to do their spring cleaning. Going through closets, drawers and boxes, belongingss are piled up and prepared to give to various donation centers, or tagged for the upcoming yard sale. At the end of the cleaning up and clearing out, many stand back and wonder where on earth it all came from!
One of the hard parts of a spring cleaning is cutting the sentimental tie to the various items individuals hold on to so dearly. The set of hand towels, a very large conch shell or that set of untouched golf clubs, a reason can be found for not letting go. People find new reasons, daily, to hold on to the “stuff” that can weigh down moving on.
The next step would be to decide where all of the items collected should go. Of course, the local donation bin, the Salvation Army and Good Will are all at the top of lists. However, consider other non-profits like the local food pantry, a crisis pregnancy center or a retreat center. Often times, when visiting their websites, a wish list can be found in the navigation bar of their homepage. Listed there are various items that could be useless to the average individual, but are priceless for their needs.
Finally, get those piles out of the house! There is nothing like getting a job done, almost all of the way, and then it sits there. Make a plan and stick to it. Get those piles into the car and delivered that day.
Nate Savanick is passionate about every aspect of Laurelville. After countless positive experiences, he wants others to experience the same. As he approaches two years of sitting on the board, he is getting excited for what is to come in the next season for Laurelville.
Savanick has been a resident of Scottdale, PA his entire life. After graduating from Eastern Mennonite University, he joined the family business with his mother. Together they manage two flower shops, two gift shops and a restaurant. He is married to Kristen and they raise their daughter, Julia, and are excited to welcome another member of the family in early May.
Although the Nate and his family only joined the Association three years ago, Laurelville has been a huge part of his life. “I attended the summer camp program and year after year I was excited to return to reconnect with friends I had made the previous year,” shares Savanick, “I didn’t understand at the time that I was building relationships with people I would meet again, and again, at either Mennonite conferences or during my time at EMU, or even now as members of the Laurelville Association!”
As it has been stated in the past, Laurelville is a place of spiritual renewal, and Savanick agrees, going on to share that when he steps on to the grounds-his daily routine escapes. Whether he is at Laurelville for a board meeting, volunteering or an Association weekend, “the combination of the physical setting, the memories, and the people, helps me to become spiritually centered.”
When Nate is not running five businesses or chasing after Julia, you can find him outdoors. He is an avid hiker, skier, and hunter. He especially enjoys hiking the Pine Run property, “the view from the very top is quite breathtaking.”
Laurelville is blessed with a top-notch board and Nate Savanick is a great part of that bigger team. He is excited about the future with an incoming Executive Director and a new season at Laurelville. “While it is difficult to see [Denlinger] go, we are very excited to welcome Michael Yoder to Laurelville as the new Executive Director. Michael is entrepreneurial, energetic and brings with him a great skill set for this position. I am excited to see where Laurelville goes in the next few years under his leadership.”
The annual Spring Gathering is quickly approaching and the staff and board are excited to reconnect. Nate, and the rest of the board, will meet prior to the gathering, where they will continue to lead and plan Laurelville for years to come. Every friend of Laurelville is encouraged to be a part of the Association and any questions about the board or Association can be directed to email@example.com.
Recently, we joined in to the social media trend of “Throwback Thursdays” on our Facebook page. While going through stacks of old photos at Laurelville, Hannah (Miller) Miedel kept showing up. It was not a coincidence that we had touched base with her, for our Laurelville Board highlight for February.
Hannah is no stranger to Laurelville, as she grew up attending various programs at Laurelville. Although she lived in Scottdale, as a child, Hannah grew up at Laurelville while her father, Levi Miller, fulfilled his duties as the Program Director. The Miller’s never, technically, lived on campus, however they spent a considerable amount of time on grounds.
“From family weeks, to summer camps, to staff orientations, I was on campus a lot,” Miedel shared, “I started to waitress for Laurelville at 14. My memories are vivid of serving meals at Association weekends in the past.”
Hannah is married to Anson Miedel and when she is not tending to her children, Sadie, Aaron and Mary, she is fulfilling her role as family physician at the Holmes County Health Department seeing patients. She is partners with another Association member, Dr. DJ McFadden. She also enjoys reading, cooking, tennis and knitting. While she lives in Ohio, she maintains a strong affinity to the Steelers.
Memories are deep and wide for Meidel at Laurelville, however one clearly stands out, “We were married in 1997, and held our wedding reception in the, then, brand new Shenandoah,” Hannah recalls, “My parents strung Christmas lights and set out luminaries and we danced to a steel drum band into the night. The best thing was all of my extended family could stay for the weekend in the cottages, allowing time for a family reunion as well!”
John Denlinger, Executive Director for Laurelville, has known Hannah for quite a while, “I have great memories of Hannah serving as the life guard when our children came to Laurelville in the late 80's and early 90's. Hannah brings a multi-dimensional perspective to the board as she has been a camper, staff person, local resident and now a board member who lives out of the area. Hannah represents that next generation
who will bring creative leadership and direction to the ongoing ministry and mission of Laurelville.”
Curiosity got the best of Miedel two years ago when she not only joined the Association, but also the board. She has a passion for continuing the traditions at Laurelville, where people can encounter hospitality, nature and God the way she was allowed to while growing up. She always looks forward to allowing her children to run free, once on campus, and not worrying about their free-play. She looks forward to many more years of time at Laurelville.
“I am excited that Laurelville is in such a stable place, financially, that we can dream a little bit, rather than react. More concretely, I am excited about the Pine Run land and hope to see new uses for it many years ahead.”
Many hands go into running Laurelville. Along with a staff that cares deeply for the grounds is a board of caring individuals who advocate, effortlessly, for the center year after year. We found it appropriate to highlight the individuals who take time out of their lives to support Laurelville.
Ken Cullar is no stranger to Laurelville and has served on the board for eight years and as Secretary for one 3-year term. Not only has he volunteered every summer, for a week at a time, but Laurelville has been a gathering place for reunions, good singing, peace and rest for Cullar.
Born in Eastern Ohio on a vegetable farm in 1961, Kenneth Cullar worked on his farm until attending Goshen College after high school in 1979. Shortly after college, he was married to Dawn and they lived in North Lima for three years. From there, they decided to head out west to Fresno, California for the next six years, where he fought forest fires, worked in construction and settled into a calling of education.
While in Fresno, the Cullars welcomed their first son, Jono. In 1995, the Cullars relocated back to North Lima, where they currently reside. They also welcomed Anna and Andrew in to their family. The Cullers stay busy keeping up with their children. Currently, Jono is in his second year at Conrad Grebel, part of the University of Waterloo, Anna is in South Africa with the Canadian Mennonite University, and Andrew is working towards his high school diploma in North Lima.
Cullar grew up coming to Laurelville with his parents. His mother was a Thomas from the Johnstown area (Thomas Mills). He attended “Primitive” in the 6th grade and regular camps in his middle school years. He recalls hiking down the mountain in the middle of the night, during Primitive, because of rain and flooding on their camp site. Like many returning campers, he always anticipated meeting other Mennonite youth and developing relationships. With the help of social networking, he has reconnected with those same friends as well as new ones.
“I love what Laurelville offers as a place for our kids to come and enjoy nature in the safety of the boundaries of the camp,” Culler shared, “I believe in Laurelville and all that is has to offer. That is why I am on the board. I want to help, in some way, with the continuation of what Laurelville stands for.”
While at home with Dawn, they spend time with their dog, two cats, three goats, and horse. In his spare time he enjoys his motorcycle, spending time with family, playing basketball, farm work and family vacations. He is well traveled, taking on 49 states, along with cross Canada, Mexico, Belize, Austria, Germany and Italy.
“I like where Laurelville is headed. Someday, I would like to see an indoor pool to better attract winter customers.”
Laurelville is very thankful for Kenneth Cullar’s years of service. All staff and association members, as well as friends and neighbors, anticipate what Laurelville will be in the next decade or so. John Denlinger, Executive Director for Laurelville, has enjoyed working along side of Cullar, “Ken is a gift to our Association and our Board. He is a very unassuming, down to earth, kind of guy, who brings a great perspective to our board discussions and decisions. His long history with Laurelville informs his understanding of where Laurelville has been and should be going in the future. One of his greatest gifts is advocating for an inviting many people to become part of the Laurelville family…a gift that keeps on giving.”
For 49 years a group of youth workers and volunteers from Pittsburgh has been bringing their students to Laurelville for what we’ve been calling “Mud Weekend’s”. It’s close to Pittsburgh, it’s affordable, it’s beautiful, and by working together with other youth pastors they’ve been able to maximize their time and effort so that they can put together a quality outreach camping experience for un-churched kids.
Some have said that this year’s Mud Weekend was the best in 15 years! The speakers presented the Gospel in engaging powerful ways, the program team put together a great weekend filled with mud football and entertainment, the band led the students in high energy worship, and the students were able to take a break from the urban and suburban man made world and meet God in all of His glorious creation.
But this happens every year. What many have said made this year different has to do with the newest addition to our schedule—packing meals for Haiti.
For as long as I can remember we’ve offered seminars for students on Saturday afternoon. Typically we provided a wide range of topics (doubt, music, sex, dating, discipleship, following Christ in college, etc.) and let the students attend the seminar that they were most interested in. This year, however, we offered only one. We talked with students about global hunger and the Christian response. Then we gave the students an opportunity to practice what we’d just preached.
And…they loved it!
PKF partnered with Outreach International to supply the goods and in turn donated all food packs to Hearts for the Hungry. Students packed meals of rice, beans, veggies, and vitamin packs. The music was blasting, the kids were dancing at their stations and the meals piled up fast. In a little over an hour the students packed 70,000 meals. Four weeks later and now we’ve got 280,000 meals packed and on their way to Haiti. All of this was made possible by the Laurelville staff that coordinated fork lifts, storage-units, and pallets of food, so that each Saturday we could provide students with this opportunity to make a difference in the world.
As one of the youth workers who has been a part of “Mud Weekends” for at least the past 15 years, I can say that we at the Pittsburgh Kids Foundation love working with Laurelville. The accommodations, the staff, and the beauty of the laurel highlands enable us to provide kids all over the greater Pittsburgh region with an opportunity to disengage from their hectic schedules and think critically about what they believe, who they are, who God is, and who God is calling them to become.
Mark Williams is the Director of Urban Ministries for the Pittsburgh Kids Foundation(PKF). He is married to Courtney and is the father of Samara Jane (4) and Ezra Canaan (18mo.). Mark grew up attending Laurelville camp with the then Pittsburgh Youth Network(PYN), now PKF.
All I Want for Christmas…Laurelville
A new bike. Nintendo 3Ds. iPhone 5. iPad mini. World Peace.
Everyone’s Christmas list is different. And, if you are falling into the slump, that many of us are falling into, you cannot figure out what to give anyone. Many gifts seem pointless anymore. Do we buy gifts simply to wrap up something? What is the point?
A few years ago, we received an envelope in the mail. It was a one-year membership to the Greenville Zoo. Now, if you understand where we just came from, Greenville was a good 6 hour
drive from our front door. My sister-in-law felt terrible! However, what a great thought!
A gift that kept on giving, and for the entire family.
I can think of other gifts, too, that I will never forget, because they were thoughtful-not very extravagant, but something I could enjoy for longer than a day and didn’t clutter up my home.
How often do you ask “When can we just get away for a weekend?”? We look at our bank account and realize, it just isn’t going to happen right now. Something that is affordable for the entire family to do, with a limited budget. Or maybe not a limited budget, but attainable
for just a weekend trip.
What about giving the gift of a year Laurelville Association membership?
For $100, you can join a family for an entire year. Along with that membership you are gifting them TWO weekends away, as a family! This weekend includes meals, lodging and programmed (and unprogrammed) time together as a family. Feel the need to spend more than $100, what about a Lifetime Membership for $750. That’s ENDLESS weekend getaways for this family, for the rest of their lives! WHAT A DEAL!
Are there strings attached? Of course there are! As Association members we are called upon to support, not only financially, but physically. During our association weekends, we have the opportunity to sign up and work on the grounds, keeping Laurelville beautiful and accessible to all who grace the
If that is why Jesus came, and Christmas is about Jesus, isn’t that another reason to give such an impacting gift? property. As Jesus clearly stated in Mark, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many”. The greatest part of our “volunteer time” during Association weekends is we do it as a family. We have something for all ages to take part in, so our children can be the hands and feet of the Lord, as well.
Laurelville is a special place to so many people. Consider investing in, not only their family, but generations to come. As they bring their family here, their children will want to do the same.
Two free vacations, and a life-time investment, for $100. Sold!
Westmorland County has a wealth of things to do. No matter what the season or day, you can always find something full of culture, history or entertainment. As Pittsburgh is one of the country’s most livable cities, this is true for its surrounding areas. Looking for that one neighborhood that has banned together to make their homes the prettiest, the Westmorland and Southmorland counties won’t disappoint this Christmas season.
Plan a few nights stay in Laurelville and visit the area for some great Christmas finds. Fill your days with specialty shopping at DeLallo Italian Marketplace, the Lenox Outlet, or many of the great shops in the undiscovered Scottdale. Find that gift for that family member who is impossible to shop for over at Collections by Marty, or get tickets for our local production of The Nutcracker at the Geyer Performing Arts Center. Pick out some great stocking stuffers at Glitter Bug, and you can’t forget to fill those candy dishes with goodies from Brown’s Candy Kitchen.
End your days by getting in the car and driving over to the Westmorland Fairgrounds and tour the Overly’s Country Christmas. This fabulous holiday display is perfect for all ages, as you tour the Christmas Village, sing carols around a bonfire and shop for gifts in the C.Edgar & Sons General Store. If you can’t find what you want, there, you can head over to the Old General Store in Mt.Pleasant.
Time together is often limited to Christmas Eve and the 3 days following. Make it a priority, this holiday season, to spend some time away-away from the television, noise and business of life. Make an affordable reservation, today, for a few days in December to relax and take in the beauty of the Laurel Highlands. ‘Tis the season to restore your spirit-naturally.
Making the drive through the West Virginia Mountains reminded me that ski season is right around the corner! There is no better time to make reservations at Laurelville for a few weekday stays and use up some of that vacation time, or sick time (don’t you feel a cough coming on?) and relax in the Laurel Highlands.
Seven Springs and Hidden Valley Ski Resorts have great weekday rates, which make a getaway quite affordable. Take advantage of our family cabins, or get a crew from your office and reserve some rooms and make your way to Laurelville over the next month or so. When we approach May, we begin to picture our toes in the sand, laying in the sun, without a care in the world. As northerners, we can take advantage of that holiday lag and picture ourselves nestled by a fire, tired from a day at the slopes, enjoying the company of our friends or family. Don’t hesitate and put it off until next year, get planning now!
It’s Tuesday, so most of us are already thinking about what the weekend has in store. For most of us, it could be the same old routine. Soccer games, dance rehearsal, or catching up on our full DVR. One of the best aspects of Laurelville is the affordability of our lodging. Make plans this weekend to escape to the mountains and take in some great festivals going on!
The Annual Fort Ligonier Days kick-off this Friday, October 12, and run through Sunday, October 14. Crowned by the American Business Association as one of the “Top 100 Events in America”, Fort Ligonier Days has something for everyone. Make sure you arrive by 11:00 AM on Saturday for their parade, and make plans to stay until after their spectacular fireworks display at 8:45 PM.
You can also make it over to Seven Springs Mountain Resort for their annual Autumnfest Fine Arts Weekend. With live bands, unique crafts, novelty acts and something for singles, couples, families, anyone, this is a weekend you WANT to spend away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. It won’t be too long before you’re “making your list and checking it twice”, so take a minute for you and enjoy the Laurel Highlands this weekend. Laurelville has rooms available, so call or email today to make your reservations.
As you look at your day to day life and a jammed schedule, are you taking time to take care of your soul? How are you setting apart time to spend with your Father in heaven, and allowing Him to fill you up to continue to send you out? Of course, you do not have to sign up for a retreat in Mt.Pleasant, PA to take care of your soul. However, it is worth taking the time to sit back, and check in with how you are doing. We encourage you to turn off the television, take time away from the various organizations you are volunteering for, and make time to worship and talk with the Lord; more than just on a Sunday morning. Give yourself a day retreat and see what He’s up to!