Grace Pointe Senior Care Community (Grace Pointe) — Greeley’s only family and locally-owned assisted living community and rehab center in Northern Colorado — recently celebrated the 100th birthdays of residents Mildred Diehl, and Evelyn Ward, on February 17, 2021.
Sharing the same birthday (on February 17, 1921) Diehl and Ward — who are both long-term Assisted Living residents at Grace Pointe — welcomed their centennial with a celebration on the senior care community’s campus. To ensure the safety of those in attendance, Grace Pointe staff and residents practiced social distancing and carefully followed current CDC health-conscious protocols throughout the intimate event. Most notably, Grace Pointe also provided Diehl and Ward, among other residents, with complete COVID-19 vaccinations to make the milestone meet-up possible.
During individual video interviews coordinated and facilitated by the Grace Pointe team, Diehl and Ward shared stories of their life experiences, most of which drew many similarities with regard to their perspective on the current pandemic.
Both women have observed many events in the United States history. They include the outcomes of the pandemic of 1918 when 50 million people died worldwide. The New York Stock Exchange crash of 1929 followed by the depression that left the country and world in economic shock. Both hail from farm families that were dependent on buyers who no longer had the finances to purchase or the banking loan system that had folded. Food was scarce, and unemployment reached 25%. As the economy started to turn around, the next disaster hit. Most have only read about the Dust Bowl in school, but Diehl and Ward lived in it. There was no water for crops, the family garden, or the livestock. Most families had to work hard to preserve what little they had.
“These two ladies can tell stories we cannot even relate to, but they persevered and continued to make an impact in the lives of others,” notes Jennifer Peterson, Director of Marketing at Grace Pointe. “They each have experienced ups and downs in 100 years. Births, deaths, economic crisis, medical progress, creation of technology, wars, a man on the moon, 18 presidents, and much more. They have been able to come out on the other side, showing resilience, strength, and the ability to count their blessings.”
Both women enjoyed giving back to their communities. Diehl and her husband were 4-H leaders for more than 25 years. They were recognized in the photo display “The Hands That Built Weld County” at the Exhibition building in Island Grove. Ward was active after retirement in making hundreds of quilts for victims of Hurricane Katrina, tornadoes in Mississippi, new owners of Habitat for Humanity homes, hand/warm hearts, and Kidzquilts. She was recognized for 5,400 volunteer hours with the Retired Senior Volunteer Program.
“If someone feels comfortable with taking the vaccine and thinks that it will help them, I say more power to them,” said Ward. In comparison, Diehl noted, “I think we’ll get through this (pandemic) like we have before (during other events in history she mentioned, such as smallpox). It just takes time, but I’m optimistic we’ll get there.”
While concluding interviews with Diehl and Ward, each expressed a love for their mothers’ homemade cakes and emphasized their appreciation for thoughtfully written letters from friends and loved ones when asked about favored birthday gifts over the last 100 years.
“It’s so rewarding to see our efforts in overcoming the pandemic’s challenges justified through a resurgence of community connectedness and resident comradery,” said Peterson. “While we all fully realize the importance of hard work ahead of us, there is also an undeniable sense of optimism for what’s to come. Especially with inspirational residents like Mildred and Evelyn, who remind us that life is full of opportunity, no matter the circumstances.”
Grace Pointe invites others to read more on Mildred Diehl and Evelyn Ward in a full ‘A Handful of Life’ series feature, sharing the stories, lessons, and experiences of residents as told by them and their families at GracePointeGreeley.com/A-Handful-of-Life.