Transformed by Love for Christ

Transformed by Love for Christ

The teachings found in 1 Peter 4:10 tell us, “each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”

God’s goodness may be radiated through a simple touch, prayer or act of kindness. These displays of respect and acceptance embody the ministry of Jesus and echo the mission of United Church Homes.

Spirituality shines throughout the communities, from residents and volunteers to staff members who strive to make every interaction meaningful.

“It’s nice to see residents who truly care for one another.”
Every Sunday at Parkvue Community in Sandusky, Ohio, resident Ruth Maier can be found in the chapel preparing for the weekly worship. Ruth is a lifelong member of the United Church of Christ, mother of six, grandmother of 12 and great-grandmother of eight. Her life has been filled with love and service, devoted to family and volunteering within her church and community.

ruthSince moving to Parkvue in 2003, Ruth has been an active participant and advocate for weekly chapel services. Despite the challenges of losing her husband and her eyesight, Ruth’s vision of Christ and His works remains stronger than ever.

Ruth’s devotion is evident in all aspects of her life. She maintains a resident prayer list, serves as chapel representative on the resident council and provides spiritual counsel to those in need.

While United Church Homes maintains an affiliation with the United Church of Christ, residents of all faiths are embraced within our communities.

“We embody the proclamation that ‘God is Still Speaking,’” says Rev. Kenneth Daniel, president and CEO of United Church Homes. “There is more work that God is doing in and through our communities.”

When her little dog Neika shows up, Parkvue Community residents know Lou Dickman isn’t far behind.

louneikaLou serves as a Eucharistic minister and assists with weekly communion services for Catholic residents. People are drawn to Lou’s spiritual nature, and often turn to her for counseling, guidance and prayers. She also drives a roomy minivan, with plenty of room to take others to weekly Mass.

The retired nurse, mother of six, grandmother to 14 and great-grandmother to “6 ½” maintains an active volunteer schedule at Providence Care Center, Parkvue and Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church. She also serves as secretary on the resident council.

“Church has always been very important to me. It fulfills a spiritual need within me and I receive a great satisfaction from it. I enjoy helping people, and in this day and age, prayer is very important,” Lou said.

“We are very blessed to have these ladies here. They add so much to the lives of residents and all of us. It is nice to see residents who truly and genuinely care about others,” said Shannon Bloomingkemper, resident services coordinator at Parkvue Place, the residential community on campus.

dickzFinding, giving and sharing purpose with those around you.
Every Wednesday you can find 84-year-old Dick Zigmond giving his time and talents to Catholic residents at Parkvue. In the hour before mealtime, Dick serves as the Eucharistic minister, offering a communion service outside the dining area. While Dick’s goal is simple, his service is a gift to those who can’t travel. “We serve those who want to receive communion, but are unable to get to a local church,” he explained. Dick’s volunteer spirit at Parkvue began when Pastor Bill Michaels asked him to assist Parkvue’s Catholic residents. He started in the assisted living community, and selflessly taught other volunteers to perform the needed service. Today, Dick offers the same weekly communion to residents in the skilled nursing center, as he continues his lifelong commitment to helping others. “To me, it’s more than just giving communion to people. It’s fulfilling a need to support residents in life and in death,” he said.

At Patriot Ridge Community in Fairborn, Ohio, volunteer Todd Anderson displays this same commitment to the Lord’s grace and goodness. In addition to operating his own business, running the Faith Christian Book Store/Gift Shop in Fairborn and other volunteer pursuits, he reached out to Patriot Ridge about a year ago, following his heart and what God called him to do with his time. Todd spends several days or evenings a week at the community, leading small groups in fellowship. Whether it involves watching a movie, playing a game or sharing a meal, the key is spending time together.

Todd has a special way of reaching more of the shy residents, as well. He escorts them to activities or visits with them in their rooms. Todd purchases Bibles, with his own money, for residents. Each Bible is personalized with the resident’s name stamped on the cover.

Todd also works with staff to listen and offer spiritual and personal guidance. “I’ve been told that seldom is there a conversation with me that doesn’t turn to God. My life is centered on God. He puts me where He likes me to be,” Todd said.

Carla Easterly, director of resident activities at Patriot Ridge, recognizes Todd’s gift. She mentions his “inner light,” how he’s always smiling and receptive to people.

Carla and Todd are neighbors and friends, in addition to their shared interests at Patriot Ridge. They want to expand community outreach both at Patriot Ridge and within Fairborn. “It’s quite an opportunity and gives substance to what we do here. It allows residents and community to work together to benefit all who love God. It creates a beautiful situation,” Carla said.

“Guided by God to step outside of myself and help others.”
Duane A. Hutchinson, a nursing assistant at Patriot Ridge Community, candidly shares his life’s transformation after a 20-year battle with alcoholism. On June 13, 2009, Duane turned his will and life over to the “Higher Power” he calls God.

“After committing to remaining sober, I was guided by God to find something that would allow me to step outside of myself and help others. After a relative of mine committed suicide due to alcoholism in early 2010, I was led to become a state tested nursing assistant and found Patriot Ridge Community to be the place I should be. I was hired Aug. 26, 2010,” he said.

This position marked his first experience in the healthcare field and brought him to Lori Shope, a fellow STNA at Patriot Ridge who would later become his wife on June 13, 2013.

From trying to set a good example for his co-workers and keeping them lighthearted, to helping a resident or their family member, he incorporates selflessness, his spirituality, and his overcoming of past struggles into all he does. Duane also shares his musical talent on occasion, playing guitar and singing to residents.

“I am now all about giving back selflessly and not so much about how something or someone can benefit me. I am in this field to make life easier and better for others with less concern and focus on myself. That is what paying it forward and giving back is all about,” he said. His is but one example of a life transformed by faithful service to others.

It is through the faith-based mission of United Church Homes that we nurture the whole being…physical, emotional and spiritual. The atmosphere of caring, compassion and fellowship extends beyond our walls and encompasses all those come into contact with the residents, employees, families and friends within our network of communities. We celebrate the unity of spirit and fellowship God has given us.