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The Best is Yet to Come

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Family, friends and volunteers help make this house a home

BY KIM HASTY , November 2021

PHOTOGRAPHY BY TONY WOOTEN

Every day, it seemed, was cause for celebration in the bustling home of Janet and Lynwood Berg.

Trips to the beach, big holiday dinners, love, laughter and, once, a month-long camping trip all over the United States with their five children in tow.

“Dad and Mom have always been about family,” said daughter Pam Berg Griffith. “Growing up with them was always an adventure. And if we’d ever argue, we had to either hold hands or hug each other.”

Even when their children became parents themselves and grandchildren and great-grandchildren began coming along, Janet and Lynwood maintained an active lifestyle, as well as their independence. They hosted many a family gathering in their big log cabin – the Berg’s Nest – on 19 acres in Moore County.

Neither serious health scares nor an emotional move from the Berg’s Nest so that they could be closer to family in Fayetteville managed to dampen the couple’s spirits for long. And thanks to some help from the Cumberland County Council on Older Adults and the carpentry ministry at Snyder Memorial Baptist Church, the Bergs’ backyard in the Stratford Hills neighborhood feels like home sweet home.

“They were awesome,” Griffith said of the volunteers who helped install a wheelchair ramp before her parents moved into the home in 2017. “The Cumberland County Council on Older Adults has so many wonderful programs available. We filled out an application, and the ramp was installed, lickety-split.”

The wheelchair ramp was needed due to a serious fall a few years back during which Janet Berg suffered a severely broken hip. The fall was preceded by her recovery from a brain aneurysm 10 years ago. The friendly and fun-loving Janet hasn’t allowed either health scare to put an end to the good times she loves. “It didn’t take my life away,” she said. “It took my walking away.”

Lisa Hughes, assistant executive director of the Cumberland County Council on Older Adults, said that helping older adults feel comfortable and maintain their dignity in their own home is part of the nonprofit organization’s mission. The agency, which has been part of the community for more than 50 years, is likely best known for its Meals on Wheels program. Hughes said Cumberland County’s Meals on Wheels program delivers meals to over 400 seniors each day and was one of only a few that did not suspend deliveries during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We were fortunate,” Hughes said.

“With the dedication of our experienced staff and volunteers, help with emergency funding from the Cumberland Community Foundation and a partnership with city parks and recreation employees who pitched in when many of our hundreds of regular volunteers were unable to continue, our homebound seniors did not experience an interruption in their meals.”

Janet and Lynwood Berg have been married 62 years, having wed on Dec. 31, 1958, two years after Lynwood enlisted in the Army. Griffith said she and her siblings, with help from friends, family and neighbors, completely remodeled her parents’ Fayetteville home to make the transition as easy as possible.

“They were moving out of their dream house,” Griffith said. “For them to leave that house was hard. I wanted them to be able to come into this house and feel like they were in the log cabin.”

It’s easily apparent that love and happiness endure long after the cardboard boxes and bubble wrap is gone. From Abby the chubby rescue beagle to the rock garden outside, where each family member has a stone named in their honor, the comforts of home are obvious.

New pieces of furniture share space with family treasures. Wooden hearts hanging on a wall are inscribed with each family member’s birthday.

And one of the best pieces? That would be the big wooden sign that hangs over the Bergs’ favorite pair of easy chairs. It reads: “The Best is Yet to Come.”

Their Mission is to Help Older Adults

“Maintain Their Independence at Home”

Lisa Hughes, assistant executive director for the Cumberland County Council on Older Adults, said the nonprofit organization is dedicated to helping senior citizens in the community maintain their independence at home with dignity through a variety of free services.

“What most people do not know about the council is that Meals on Wheels is one of only five major program services that we provide in the community at no cost to our seniors,” Hughes said. “Three of the more recent additions to our programming, made possible through grants from the Cumberland Community Foundation, are our Caregiver Support program, Community Caregiving and, most recently, Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementia Community Support.

“Our county is on the cutting edge with these services,” she said, “and as a result, our virtual classes include folks from other counties and states who do not have access to anything similar.”

The Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementia Community Support Program focuses both on older adults with who memory loss as well as those who serve as their caregivers. Among the new services the council will offer through an organization called Music & Memory. The nonprofit helps those with cognitive and physical difficulties engage with the world through songs and music that have been meaningful throughout their lives.

“They’ve seen some really good success,” Hughes said, adding that the kits will soon be available locally. “Studies have shown that connecting with music decreases agitation, improves mood, nutrition, sleep and leads to a decreased use of pain meds.”

Another innovative program, Joy for All, involves the use of robotic “animatronic” animals that are designed to “increase social engagement, decrease loneliness, and provide a better quality of life” for those with cognitive and physical disabilities.

“They have three different cats and two dogs,” Hughes said. “They’re really, really neat. It’s all about encouraging interaction and bringing a little more spark to their lives. It can help increase that interaction with others.”

Hughes said that whether her organization is asked to help through delivering nutritious meals, help with yard work, a comforting conversation, a wheelchair ramp or with a furry robotic pet, it all goes toward the same goal.

“The most important thing is that routine and that familiarity,” she said. “Their home is something they worked hard for. It’s where they raised their children and where they have their memories. If we’re able to provide support to keep them in their home, that’s fantastic.”

For more information, go to cccooa.org or call 910-484-0111.


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