Leaders to Help UCH Grow, Transform Aging

Karen Messick, MPAThe rich history of the ministry at United Church Homes has always been to provide senior living. New imperatives of transforming aging and educating others on aging services is now core to its service. As United Church Homes renovates and expands existing communities and adds management contracts through United Church Homes Management Services, it also is taking on exciting new initiatives such as the Ruth Frost Parker Center for Abundant Aging.

To ensure the success of these initiatives, UCH recently named Karen Messick as the new executive director of UCHM. The management services division of UCH manages Friendship Village Columbus and SEM Haven in Milford, Ohio.

As executive director, Karen will provide leadership and direction focused on the growth of UCHM in the areas of skilled nursing, assisted living, and senior living community contracts, joint ventures, partnerships, and mergers.

“This is a great time to grow the presence of UCHM and UCH in West Michigan and elsewhere. The minute-by-minute changes in the senior care industry demand better efficiencies and better quality of care,” Karen said.

UCHM, backed by the expertise of UCH, will help struggling communities survive. “Senior care providers that are too small to remain relevant in the market will benefit from the expertise and support while UCH is meeting its growth strategy. It’s a win-win,” Karen said. Rev. Kenneth Daniel is pleased to welcome Karen. “Karen brings a strong combination of expertise and leadership needed to help UCH and UCHM continue to grow,” Rev. Daniel said.

Karen formerly was executive director of Pilgrim Manor, a senior residential and healthcare community in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Pilgrim Manor integrated with UCH in the fall of 2016.

Rev. Beth Long-HigginsAdditionally, Rev. Beth Long-Higgins was named the new executive director of the Ruth Frost Parker Center, which provides a forum for the exchange of ideas and innovation in the fields of gerontology, healthcare, ministry, and aging. Beth, a longtime supporter of UCH, is charged with shaping the newly formed center, an initiative that serves as a lasting tribute to Ruth Frost Parker, whose generosity helped create the senior healthcare and residential campus of Parkvue Community in Sandusky, Ohio. The center’s first annual Symposium was held in 2016 and former Good Morning America host, Joan Lunden, was the keynote speaker. The second annual Symposium will be held Oct. 20 in Columbus. Dr. Laura Carstensen, the Fairleigh S. Dickinson Jr. Professor in Public Policy and professor of psychology at Stanford University, and the founding director of the Stanford Center on Longevity, will be the keynote speaker. Beth said the Symposium is the center’s signature event. “I am excited about the possibilities. This is just the beginning. It will be interesting to see the ways we can grow,” Beth said.

Beth joined the corporate office in Marion in 2013 as the director of community and church relations and most recently served as the director of outreach and mission integration. Rev. Daniel said he is confident Beth can move the Center for Abundant Aging forward.

“Beth is the ideal director for the center because of her leadership skills, long history with United Church Homes, and her ability to inspire and engage the community,” he said.