Ralph Chamberlain: Community Life’s Honorary Mayor

From Timeless in Bedford County Magazine No. 2

Meet Ralph Chamberlain, the mayor of Community Life Bedford. Although it’s not an official title, it’s one that Ralph has earned through his popularity with the staff and participants of Community Life. This 92 year old retired dairy farmer and family man has been coming to Community Life three days a week since September 2018 and says that it has been life changing for him. The therapy services, activities, special events and socializing at the center have been transformative, helping Ralph to improve his health and his mobility and make many new friends.

Physical therapy is always on the agenda for Ralph, and he enjoys his time on the NuStep – a seated exercise machine that is a combination of an elliptical and an exercise bike. It gives Ralph cardiac conditioning as well as muscle strengthening, and he says he can already feel the difference it has made in his strength and stamina. His walking has improved and he is better able to perform daily activities. His favorite activities are playing bocce and bingo and enjoying the musical performers who come to Community Life Bedford to entertain the participants.

“Ralph is the poster child for our activities program.”

John Porta, activities director

“He participates in everything and wins prizes. He has a lot of friends here and is well loved by the other participants and the staff. Ralph tells me that he loves coming to Community Life, especially because of the friendly people he has gotten to know here. Ralph travels to the center in the van with two other 90 year olds and they are all great friends.”

Although he has not worked on his 193 acre farm, with 400 cows, for many years, he is proud that the farm has been in the family for nearly 60 years and is now in the capable hands of his oldest son. He continues to reside in the farmhouse, with his granddaughter. 

Ralph lost his wife five years ago, and life was tough after that. He has also had more than his share of challenging medical issues. He joined Community Life after his son heard about it from a friend and encouraged him to consider it. It turned out to be exactly what Ralph needed: although his family is loving and caring, they needed some extra support to help Ralph and improve his quality of life.  Community Life has done exactly that, and Ralph encourages others to visit the center. “You need to come here in person to see how nice it is,” he says. “There are many good things about this place and the people are the best thing.”

 “Ralph is a true Community Life success story,” says John Porta. “When Ralph talks about his past struggles it is hard to imagine we are discussing the same person that is sitting in front of me. The Ralph we see today is healthier, happier, more ornery and a wonderful friend. Ralph says that he has an improved outlook on life now, and he wants to tell everyone thinking about contacting Community Life ‘DO IT, it can change everything.’” 

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