It took longer than expected, but a culmination of hard work and commitment brought Betty Sega and Galen Matthews together at a commitment ceremony at 1:30 p.m. Sept. 30 at Albright-LIFE, 901 Memorial Ave.
The couple met more than 17 years ago and exchanged vows in front of 100 family members, friends and neighbors.
The Rev. Sue Jamison, director of annual funds and communications at Albright Care Services, officiated. According to staff members at Albright LIFE (Living Independently for Elders), the special event was organized in order to celebrate the union of one of the first clients to enter the facility.
"Betty was here since the beginning," said social worker Fran Decker. "She worked very hard to get to this point, so we wanted to do something special."
Many people, including Betty and Galen, were unsure if their special day would ever come.
After breaking a hip, Betty had to spend more than a year at Valley View Nursing Center in Montoursville. Through sheer determination and help from Galen and Albright LIFE staff members, Betty was able to return to her normal way of life.
Decker said since Betty's release in July, the couple spoke of marriage the entire time.
The celebration took place in the activity room, which was decorated with a lighted wedding arbor with lilac flowers and balloons.
The bride wore purple, which is her favorite color. After the ceremony, guests celebrated with the couple and were served wedding cake, chocolates and punch.
A touching moment that drew oohs and aahs from those in attendance came as Galen took Betty's hand at the onset of the ceremony.
Betty, who is 67 years old and a diabetic, said Galen is very good to her and she is blessed to have him in her life.
"I love him a lot; he takes care of me and makes me laugh," she said.
Galen, who also acts as Betty's caregiver, said the commitment ceremony has been a long time coming and he was both a little nervous and excited at the same time.
He said one of his favorite things to do is to sit down with Betty during meals and talk.
"I make her laugh and smile," he said. "That means a lot to me."
In the past, he said the couple enjoyed taking trips to Harrisburg to go shopping in order to get Betty out of the nursing home.
Galen, who also celebrated his 70th birthday the day of the ceremony, is employed by Perkins Family Restaurant.
According to staff at Perkins, Galen a hard worker. While he is off at work, Betty visits Albright LIFE on a daily basis and takes advantage of the care, activities and programs offered at the center.
Prior to Betty and Galen moving in together, staff also accessed the couple's apartment and made it more safe. They now live together behind Albright LIFE at Nichols Court. According to Decker, Betty and Galen have adapted and adjusted well and haven't needed much help. If the pair does need assistance, Medical Director Dr. William Keenan, nurses and therapists are available to help.
Decker said nurses are on-call 24 hours a day and help manage Betty's medications.
In addition, dietitians at the facility taught Galen what food to prepare and how to cook it for Betty's diabetic condition.
In addition to the exceptionable care, staff members at Albright LIFE provided Galen, Betty, family and friends with loving memories that will last a lifetime.
"It was a special day for two very special people who are very much in love," Decker said.
Focusing on the needs of the aging, Albright Care Services is a faith-based nonprofit corporation serving Pennsylvania's entire Susquehanna Valley.
Each of the LIFE Centers, including its local branch, provide medical care, day care, home care and a host of social services to clients.
Albright LIFE is the state's version of the nationally recognized PACE program. According to Marketing Coordinator Tracy Haas, LIFE's comprehensive array of services meet the social, medical, emotional, spiritual and nutritional needs of individuals 60 and older.
"This mix of services allows participants to remain healthy and active in the place they call home for as long as possible," Haas said.
To learn more about Albright LIFE, call 322-5433 or visit www.albrightlife.org.