Mar 30 2021

White Horse Village Remembers the Present: Residents create a pandemic time capsule

LeadingAge PA Member Spotlight

A wise person once observed, “Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back, everything is different.” Most of us can relate to this idea, especially since the start of the coronavirus outbreak where every day seems like Groundhog Day.

The members of the White Horse Village resident council recognized the historical significance of this once-in-a-lifetime event and decided to mark time with a record of the socially-distanced events and popular items that quickly became the “new normal” in 2020–they created a time capsule!

A group of resident volunteers formed the archive committee that was led by Sally Shabaker, a retired professional archivist. In April 2020, Patricia Hibschman–who created a detailed timeline of how the coronavirus pandemic unfolded and affected the community–and Barbara Dawson, a longtime resident, joined the group and quickly began devoting their time to assisting Shabaker with her work.

During the early days of the shutdown, White Horse Village residents were surveyed about the time capsule and were asked for ideas of what to include. Filled with messages, newspapers, and other objects from pandemic life, the capsule contains hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, toilet paper, and a contact-free digital thermometer. Several masks made by the White Horse Village Quilters, a comb and pair of scissors for in-home haircuts, a flash drive filled with photos and captions, and five pages of jokes and cartoons are also among the 90+ mementos. Safeguarding the memories and relics of the pandemic is important to Shabaker who ensured all items were carefully preserved using archival materials.

The capsule itself–a one-of-a-kind, hand-built, birch box–was designed and crafted by the volunteer staff at the community woodshop and was spearheaded by Marcia Hoover. Stored in White Horse Village’s archives, the time capsule will remain undisturbed until it is opened in 10 years. Shabaker anticipates that some current residents will share their pandemic experiences with the new residents in 2030 before returning the box to the archives, where it will remain until 2045–the 25th anniversary of the start of the pandemic. She hopes the people who re-open the capsule that year will learn how the residents of 2020 coped and survived. After all, she noted, the idea of the capsule is “to show how our village responded to COVID-19.”

Inscribed with “Together we can,” the motto embraced by White Horse Village residents and team members at the beginning of the pandemic, the time capsule is a lasting legacy of their spirit and encouragement during that challenging time.