One day last month, I took a walk around the Medina County Home with my 11-year-old daughter while we awaited our turn to visit with the home’s superintendent, Lynn Remington.
The picnic pavilion was packed with residents, public officials, and staff from various county departments — all there to enjoy lunch together and to share their good wishes with Remington, who was retiring after 39 years with the county home.
I was glad to have a few minutes to stroll around the backyard on a perfect summer morning. We looked at the baby peacocks in their pen under the shade trees and peeked into one of the timber-frame barns, a reminder of the county home’s history as a working farm. My gardening philosophy is if you’re going to put a lot of time into planting and weeding and watering, you might as well grow stuff you can eat. We closely noted the lush green vines of squash plants, tomatoes and peppers that shared the flower beds all around the yard.
Naturally, lots of entities operated by the county have the name “Medina County” in them. In almost every case, it’s followed somewhere by a word like “agency” or “office” or “department” or “board.” But there’s just one that contains the word “home,” the name shared by the place you and I lay our heads on our pillows most every night.
The neatly kept Medina County Home feels like home, with its big green lawn, tomato plants, barn, pets, picnic tables and shade trees, with residents and visitors feeling comfortable and in good spirits.
In addition to the caring work of staff and volunteers, one reason the rest home and custodial care facility feels like home is because the same family has overseen its day-to-day operation for the better part of 70 years.
Remington’s grandparents, Mable and Myron Barth, began managing the home in 1945. Their daughter, Joyce Farnsworth, became superintendent in 1972. Her daughter, Remington, followed in 2005. Incredible to have three consecutive generations of the same family devote so much of their personal and professional lives to the same public service position. It’s a record that may never be equaled.
A lot of people move to Medina County … for what? Many say it’s for the sense of community, for the small-town feeling of “the way things used to be,” when neighbors knew neighbors and looked out for one another.
There is no better example of that than the Medina County Home. Its cost to taxpayers is miniscule, especially compared to the amount of community pride and togetherness it has generated. It gives us more that we ever could put in.
When county commissioners announced plans to close the home in 2001, the community rallied to save it. Mark that down in the history books: It was one occasion when a grassroots effort fought city hall, or in this case the commissioners office, and won.
The group Friends of the Medina County Home was formed and continues to work hard to support it. The Clutter family from York Township founded another group called Kids Care. It hosts an annual horse show to benefit the home. Numerous others, from civic clubs to churches and businesses, have made the county home a focus of service projects and financial support.
Local historian and Gazette columnist Eli Beachy has authored a book tracing the home’s story to its 19th-century roots. Area cemetery expert Mike McCann has compiled amazing research on the county home’s cemetery — which local volunteers, yet again, recently worked to document and restore. The annual Swine ‘N’ Dine Pig Roast at the Medina County Home — the coolest event name in history, by the way — has blossomed into one of the best summer festivals in the community.
The Medina County Home represents the people of Medina County at their best — involved, giving, proud, neighborly. The beautiful brick building in Lafayette Township and the 50 to 60 people who call it home are welcome reminders of that. We need it as much as it needs us. The home is where Medina County’s heart is.
Its unofficial motto could be the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. The county home was born, saved, and thrives today because citizens and local government have shared the responsibility of caring for others in tangible and effective ways. You can’t help but walk around the back yard and think: Yeah, I could live here. It feels like home.
Contact John Gladden at email@example.com or on Twitter @thatjohngladden.