In May, I will complete two years as the chairperson of the UCH Board of Directors and nine years on the Board, so it seems like an appropriate time to reflect on the connections and influences that draw people to a ministry like United Church Homes.
Over the years that I’ve been involved with UCH, I’ve often heard people comment about ways that the organization reminds them of a family. “Like a family” is used to describe the relationships among residents, between residents and staff and among staff. It’s used to describe the loving care that is provided at every stage of life. It’s occasionally used in observing the generational legacies, such as staff member with a parent who also worked at UCH, or a staff member with a grandparent who is a resident.
These relationships are also true for some of our Board members, and I am an example. I grew up in St. Marys, Ohio, where my parents, Phil and Mary Maurer, were active laypeople of St. Paul’s UCC. I recall hearing about Fairhaven Community in Upper Sandusky when I was quite young. After my dad retired from his engineering profession, he joined UCH as a part-time member of what was then called the development department. In that role, he helped raise vital dollars so that UCH could sustain its ministry. Some years later, my mom was elected to the Board of Directors, where she served nine years. Hearing stories from my parents and knowing how important UCH was to them is one reason I said yes when asked years later whether I would join the Board.
Another factor, which is true for most of us on the Board, is seeing firsthand the challenges my parents faced in their final years. My father lived with Alzheimer’s for about 10 years before his death. My mother and I were with him when he died at Fairhaven in 2007, and I experienced firsthand the care and concern of staff. Watching the toll of dementia on my dad, and on my mom as his principal caregiver, makes me especially appreciative of the programs that UCH has implemented in recent years. Opening Minds through Art (OMA), Music & Memory and Comfort Matters® are all programs that enrich the lives of our residents with dementia and bring peace of mind to their family members.
These past nine years have been a joy and a privilege to me, working with UCH leadership and other Board members on strategies and programs that will transform aging and strengthen a culture of community, wholeness and peace. Our work is not done, nor will it ever be, but we have made notable progress in the past year and are committed to making more in the year to come.
Chairperson, Board of Directors