Greencroft Communities News
Scattered throughout Greencroft Goshen you will find the most beautiful, handcrafted, wooden furniture. These handmade pieces were all created by resident Mervin Swartzentruber. Mervin and his wife moved to Greencroft in November of 1995 from Pennsylvania. His parents were among the first residents of Greencroft Goshen, and they visited them often, making them honorary Goshenites. When his wife brought up the idea of moving into Greencroft, Mervin was a little surprised. Sure, he enjoyed visiting Greencroft, but he always thought they would settle near Scottsdale, where they lived at the time. In fact, Mervin will tell you he was really only interested in the new woodshop.
“But,” he says, “God moves in mysterious ways and in wonders to perform.”
Mervin grew up in the Michiana area, graduating high school in Middlebury. As a child, he was often creating and exploring. Even in his youth, Mervin was busy making toys and other trinkets out of wood. Mervin has many stories about experimenting and trying new things, some of which failed tremendously.
“The best thing my parents did for me was to let me play, let me try things, and let me fail,” Mervin says.
Though his woodworking brought him much joy, it was always a hobby for him, and he never really thought about being a carpenter. Once retired, woodworking and the Greencroft Goshen Woodshop kept him busy and engaged. For Mervin, woodworking allows him to try new ideas and work on puzzles. There are so many possibilities, and he likes the challenge of trying something new or developing new ideas.
When Mervin first moved to campus, the woodshop was located where the current shuffleboard courts are now. At the time, Greencroft Goshen had a Dream Program, where residents could submit their hopes and dreams to improve life here at Greencroft. Mervin entered his dream to create a bigger space for the woodshop for several years. Then, one year,the sons of resident Iven Weaver honored their father and fulfilled Mervin’s dream by donating money to enlarge the woodshop into its current space. Mervin has spent much of his time in that woodshop, first making furniture and now making smaller pieces including small end tables, trays, and marble toy runs. Mervin admits that every public space, with the exception of the Maintenance Building, includes one of his pieces. When he was able to work on larger pieces, he made many bookshelves, display cabinets, and other furniture pieces for residents on campus. Mervin has also chaired the Woodshop Committee for over 20 years, making sure tools are repaired, interested residents are assigned space, and overseeing general operations. He has only recently stepped down from that position, although he still stays involved and helps assign and keep a record of spaces.
Mervin’s own apartment, his work table in the woodshop, and much of the woodshop stores space overflow with his work. He sells some of his items at the Old Bag Factory in Goshen, Indiana, as well as during the Annual Fall Bazaar on campus. He recognizes he will need to give up woodwork soon, but the pieces he has created for the campus, its residents, and the world will continue to bring joy for generations to come.