“It was full circle coming back here”

December 18, 2023

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The first time Dave Metzler got involved at Valley View, he was a young husband and parent, working construction at Allensville Planing Mill.

He joined the board of directors and quickly found that he had a keen interest in how Valley View cared for older adults in Big Valley, and he had ideas for how it could grow and change into the future.

“I remember the night Trennis King (president of the board) told me that he thought I should take on the role of assistant administrator, and I laughed thinking he was joking. I’d thought about working at Valley View, but maybe in maintenance since I had a background in construction. I wasn’t credentialed. I didn’t think I was qualified.”

With King’s encouragement, he agreed to the job. Dave jumped into learning quickly — taking night classes in finance and then a class to become a licensed nursing home administrator.

Dave served as the assistant administrator from 1979-1985. In 1985, he became administrator of Valley View Haven — only the second to hold the position since the original administration.

“One of the first things I did was take several board members to the Mennonite Health Association’s annual meeting in Denver, CO. I wanted all of us to look at the way things were changing for retirement communities across the country.

Differently became the hallmark of Dave’s leadership. Hiring a consulting firm to do long-range planning, which eventually meant hiring a nursing home administrator and changing his role to Executive Director.

His tenure also oversaw the building of the chapel, completed 400 and 500 wings, and started plans for the Terrace personal care apartments, while continuing to add more residential cottages. The organization also became credentialed as a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC).

“During the time I was administrator, Valley View became much bigger than it had been before,” he said. “But it was still small enough to be personal — like family.”

His wife Dolores served as a nurse, and their two daughters worked at Valley View as well — one in dietary and one in nursing. “We had connections here,” she said. “Valley View became our second home.”

In 1990, Dave stepped down as CEO. A few years later, he and Dolores moved to Cumberland County, where they both served at Messiah Village (now Messiah Lifeways). In 2004, the couple moved back to Mifflin County. Even then, Dave and Dolores had begun processing the future of their retirement years.

“I knew that if I was going to choose anywhere, Valley View was going to be my first choice,” he said. “I knew the place, how it was run, and that cost-wise, it would be more affordable than other places. It was full circle coming back here.”

“It is a beautiful place,” Dolores added. “People are very warm and bring a wealth of culture from other areas. Our cottage is a perfect place to come and go. The ministry in which we are currently involved, Pure Freedom of State College, takes us all over the United States and we know we can leave and come back weeks later with perfect peace of mind. It already feels like home.”

“It seems right to come back to a place that poured into our lives, and to reap and benefit from that,” she added. “To know that we made a difference back then, and now Valley View is making a difference in our lives.”

This article is from the Fall 2023 View from the Valley Newsletter. You can see the full issue here:

Fall 2023