Tile mosaic brightens Neshaminy Manor’s courtyard

Oct 24, 2014

Barb Krier at Neshaminy Mano

Credit: Delaware Valley College. Barb Krier '14 and Marge, a resident at Neshaminy Manor, point out the pieces Marge added to the new mosaic wall, which was dedicated Oct. 21. 

Members of two Delaware Valley College student organizations, Smile Station and Alpha Phi Omega, helped with a tile mosaic wall for seniors in long-term care, which was unveiled at Neshaminy Manor in Warrington, Pennsylvania on Tuesday, Oct. 21. The 40’ X 15‘ mosaic wall took 12 years to create. Katia McGuirk, a Doylestown-based tile artist designed the wall and worked with the seniors to create the tiles for it. Last October, the group started placing the tiles on the wall. Residents provided feedback throughout the process and helped with placing the tiles.

Barb Krier ’14, a counseling psychology alumna, served as vice president of Smile Station, a student organization that visits seniors in long-term care during her time at DelVal. Krier was a driving force in the College’s collaboration with Neshaminy Manor and attended the dedication ceremony. She has been volunteering at the facility since she was a DelVal student, through student organizations and on her own, and completed an internship at the facility. She said that about 20 DelVal students contributed approximately 60 hours to the project. They helped with everything from fundraising for the mosaic to actually assisting the residents with putting the tiles on the wall.

“Going in and getting a resident to come outside is a big deal,” said Krier. “ There’s a reason to come out now. Residents will tell you which piece they added. They’ll say, ‘I put that piece on’ or, ‘my roommate who is no longer here did that part.’ There’s a real pride in the faces of the residents knowing they’ve done something that is going to be here for a really, really long time.”

The wall is covered in personal stories and touches. Some of the tiles are memories from the residents’ lives. One with two stick figures holding hands and smiling reads, “I met my husband at 16 and I married him at 18. We are married 58 years.” Another reads, “I remember hanging out the wash and fresh linens on the bed.”

The wall has tiles that are tracings of the residents’ hands with their names and the years they created them. One woman, named Dot, chose to add a cow to the wall because it has dots on it.

According to Kathy Bates, director of recreation at Neshaminy Manor, having art programs makes a huge difference in the quality of the experience for residents.

“You should see their rooms, some have every painting they have ever done on their walls,” said Bates. “One resident sold her first painting ever at one of our lunches. They’re so proud of what they have made and now they can see that work on our wall.”
Elements of the wall will also be used for physical therapy. There are three-dimensional apples that seniors can reach for.

“It’s much more interesting to say, ‘see if you can reach that bird (during physical therapy),’’’ said Bates. “It’s better to be outside looking at something beautiful.”

Krier is planning to earn her master’s degree in aging management systems so that she can “make a difference (for seniors) through policy changes.”

She continues to volunteer with Neshaminy Manor and plans to work with the tile artist to create a guide for the wall, which will be like a scavenger hunt.

The arts programs are funded by the Foundation at the Manor, which supports Gardens for the Manor and Arts for the Manor, two programs to enhance the lives of residents. The project was partially funded by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.