Embracing Community with Janet Bantly

Embracing Community with Janet Bantly

Born in Garwood, New Jersey, and raised in Union, Janet Bantly, a 90-year-old resident at Harvest Hill, lives with a commitment to community involvement.

Janet grew up attending a private all-girls school before earning her Bachelor’s in Dietetics from Simmons College in Boston. After completing her MS degree at RPI, she spent 24 fulfilling years as a nutrition consultant for the Connecticut State Dept. of Education, overseeing school programs and ensuring students received nutritious meals, reflecting on it as “the best job she’s ever had.” It was also the state of Connecticut where she met and married her husband, Neil.

Her career took her far beyond the United States though. Traveling internationally, she led groups of school nutrition professionals to countries that had or wanted to begin feeding children at school. The organization, called People to People, was started by President Eisenhower while he was in office.

Literature, Quilting and Community Spirit

Influenced by her daughter, Amy, and grandchildren living in the area, Janet came to Harvest Hill and was instantly drawn to a courtyard apartment on the first floor, which offered convenience and proximity to everything she needed. With a grandson and great grandson nearby, Janet found comfort in the community immediately.  

Not only is Janet deeply involved in the community at Harvest Hill, but she is an advocate for her fellow residents. From serving on the board to contributing to the newsletter with stories, event coverage, and book reviews, Janet’s passion shines through. She is active in Harvest Hill’s book clubs and volunteers at the library, where she’s spearheading efforts to revitalize their collection. With Nikki’s (Executive Director at Harvest Hill) support, Janet successfully secured a budget for the library, allowing for upgrades. Janet excitedly shares some of the most influential books she’s read, including “1984” and the works of Alexander McCall Smith. She shares, “I read 1984 in high school, and it still feels so relevant, especially today.”

Additionally, Janet is a dedicated crafter, working with a group for knitting and crafts. This is natural for her given her entrepreneurial experience of owning a fabric store for ten years. “I’m very busy. I have a packed schedule,” she admits. It’s this energy and enthusiasm for her community that inspires fellow residents.

From Nutrition Consulting to Community Engagement

As a registered dietician, Janet’s feedback of Harvest Hill’s meals warrants a level of respect. She shares, “The meals are extremely tasty,” reflecting the community’s commitment to providing nutritious and delicious food options. She notes that discussions about food are actively encouraged, as demonstrated by the upcoming food meeting where residents can provide feedback and ask questions.

Exploring what the community “stands for,” Janet describes a range of community members from independent living to those with more specialized needs. No matter one’s background or circumstances, she’s forged many meaningful connections and has numerous friends. She admires the diverse backgrounds of her fellow residents, many of whom have excelled in business or education.

So, what makes this community exceptional beyond its diversity? “The attentive care provided by the staff, who have been responsive and supportive throughout my time at Harvest Hill,” states Janet. It’s this supportive, yet autonomous, environment that makes Harvest Hill a place you can call home.