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We recently moved to a villa at Otterbein Portage Valley. Last fall, we had no intention of moving even though we noticed steps to the second floor getting steeper and yard work becoming less fun. We said half-heartedly that we needed to down-size and maybe we’d do it in five years or so.

On a whim, we accepted an invitation to a marketing lunch that Otterbein Portage Valley was hosting at the Hilton Garden Inn last September. After lunch, we saw a slide show about life on the campus and it sounded pleasant enough. When Geri, a marketing representative, began to describe the advantages of living here, we were impressed and surprised and intrigued with all that was offered.

Next day, I called to schedule a tour of the campus. Geri said, "Come on down and have lunch with us."

That lunch, where she answered all our questions and showed us an empty villa, was just the first of many visits to campus. The villa we saw was less than half the size of the house we were in and that doesn’t count the basement. How could we possibly fit into it?

We could see that the large two-bedroom villa was well laid out. There was a long living-dining area, a smallish but very workable kitchen, two reasonably sized bedrooms, a sunroom with windows on three sides. We thought it was a very livable space -- especially for people who had a lot less stuff than we did. So we went home saying that it was nice, but not for us.

A few weeks later, Geri called and said there was a special event, breakfast for lunch, and she’d like us to be her guests. The dining room was lively as Chef Reggie presided at a buffet table where waffles and omelets and other breakfast goodies were being prepared. Pleasant servers took orders from everyone in the dining room so we could just sit back and enjoy -- no waiting in line.

There were more lunches -- sometimes we asked to visit and other times Geri invited us because something special was going on. At our third lunch, Geri included two resident couples so we could ask them about life here. Most of our questions were about down-sizing. The answers boiled down to “it’s hard, but we’re glad we did it.”

One of the couples invited us back to their villa. They pointed out how they had arranged things to make the space work well for them. When we sat in their sunroom, I couldn’t stop looking at the view of a 47-acre woods just yards away from their back door. They told of watching deer come out at dawn and dusk.

As we sat chatting, a maintenance man stopped by to fill a request they’d left that morning at the front desk. After he finished, we heard about the many things the maintenance staff does to make residents’ life comfortable and safe. No need to stand on a shaky stool to install curtain rods or hang pictures. Someone will come and do it. They’ll even hook up TVs and DVD players and Rokus.

As the idea of living in a retirement community became more appealing, we decided to visit most of the other places in the area to see if anything suited us better. No place came close to offering the benefits Otterbein does.

The more we visited and the more we listened to people who lived here, the more we thought we’d like to live here. But down-sizing still was daunting. A close friend, who had made a big move a few years ago, said it is like eating an elephant -- take it one bite at a time. Hmmmm. But, still, it’s an elephant!

Geri told us residents often worked with decorators who specialized in down-sizing for the villas. So we called on Rose Toth and her associate, Terra Campbell, to see what they could do. We were astounded at how much of our furniture they were able to work into a plan that didn’t feel crowded. 

Okay. We knew now we could do it.

We began making many, many trips to Goodwill. I looked into ways to sell things, but it seemed that there was so much effort and so little profit that we gave most things away. Fortunately, our kids and grandkids could give a home to many of our favorite things. And Rose and Terra saw that we had storage enough for those we couldn’t part with.

Geri introduced us to a mover who has experience moving people to Otterbein. We’ve moved nine times and this was one of quickest, smoothest moves with nothing broken, dented or lost.

On May 2, Otterbein Portage Valley became our home. There were many surprises and almost every one was a good one. My biggest disappointment -- the Sunday Blade had so few ad inserts and I thought that was because we were in Pemberville. My daughter reminded me that on Mother’s Day no one got many ads.

I’ll echo what we heard on our visits -- it was hard but we’re so glad we moved. Life here has been even better than we expected.


Otterbein Portage Valley is beautifully situated on Pemberville Road between Luckey and Pemberville. If you would like to meet some residents, subscribe to our monthly Retirement Ink newsletter containing news, information and event notices, or to learn more about our community, please call us at (419) 833-8917.  Until we talk, may you have sunshine for today, a plan for tomorrow and hope for the future.

About Otterbein Senior Lifestyle Choices
Otterbein Portage Valley is a stunning 165-acre continuing care retirement community celebrating 30 years this year. The beautifully landscaped campus is conveniently located just south of I-280 and the Turnpike, between Luckey and Pemberville.

From independent living villa homes, apartments and assisted living to short-term rehabilitation, long-term care solutions and personal home care services, Otterbein has the right plans and programs to meet your needs.

Otterbein Portage Valley
Senior Lifestyle Community

20311 Pemberville Rd
Pemberville, OH 43450
Main: (419) 833-7000
Toll: (888) 749-4950
Fax: (419) 754-2456
Church Office:  (419) 833-8942
Marketing: (419) 833-8917
E-mail: pvmarket@otterbein.org


Director of Marketing and Sales

Robin Small, rsmall@otterbein.org

Ext. 8916, pvmarket@otterbein.org

Villa Homes, Assisted Living

Geri Ricker - Ext. 8918, gricker@otterbein.org

Nursing/rehabilitation - 

Fax - (419) 754-2456

Lori Stitely - (419) 833-8917, cell (419) 908-5588, lstitely@otterbein.org

After-hours and weekends: (419) 908-5588

Professional referral sources, agencies, physician's offices, or anyone related to the marketing/promotion of healthcare marketing, please contact Lori.