United Church Homes and Ohio’s Hospice Join Forces To Expand Care

United Church Homes and Ohio's Hospice are working together to improve well-being for older adultsUnited Church Homes and Ohio’s Hospice are teaming up to form a new nonprofit joint venture Medicare-certified hospice program.

United Church Homes residents needing hospice and palliative care soon can receive services provided by Ohio’s Hospice at United Church Homes while remaining in the comfort of their community. The new partnership aims to expand service offerings, improve care coordination and provide individuals facing serious illness with improved care.

“Our goal was to form a strategic alliance with Ohio’s leading nonprofit provider of hospice, palliative care and chronic disease management services to improve the scope and quality of care for residents,” said Rev. Kenneth Daniel, president and CEO of United Church Homes. Each organization brings unique strengths, established reputations and networks that create exciting possibilities, such as future expansion into inpatient and home- and community-based hospice services.

UCH is a leading provider of healthcare services and residential housing for nearly 5,000 older adults. It works to transform care and aging through innovative programs and partnerships, and by building a culture of community, wholeness and peace.

Dayton-based Ohio’s Hospice is an affiliation of nine nonprofit hospice organizations in Ohio committed to increasing access and service offerings to reduce suffering, pain, helplessness and unwanted waiting for people in need of hospice, palliative care and chronic disease management services.

“This partnership will improve well-being for older adults who choose hospice and palliative care when they are seriously ill or approaching end of life,” said Chuck Mooney, senior vice president of senior living services and COO of United Church Homes. “It’s more compassionate to keep residents in a comfortable setting, with care teams they know, and provide additional services as needs change.

“This new coordinated care model also creates peace of mind for families who want to support their loved ones who are in declining health,” Chuck added.

“Working together, Ohio’s Hospice and United Church Homes will establish new benchmarks in care for Ohio seniors, ensuring Ohio communities have access to a comprehensive continuum of care and world-class end-of-life, palliative and chronic disease management care,” said Kent Anderson, president and CEO of Ohio’s Hospice. “Each organization brings expertise, resources and a shared commitment to the people we will serve through this dynamic joint venture.”

Services through Ohio’s Hospice at United Church Homes will be available first in the Dayton, Ohio, area at UCH’s Trinity and Fairwood Village communities in Beavercreek and Patriot Ridge Community in Fairborn. Over time, services will be offered at all Ohio UCH senior living communities and in their surrounding areas.

Green Community on Top of the Cumberland Plateau

 

Living with Purpose at Uplands Village

Uplands Village has a long tradition of health and environmental activism, starting with founder Dr. May Cravath Wharton. Many Uplanders are change agents in the larger Cumberland County community, and some of this volunteer work is guided by the Uplands Board of Directors’ Environmental Quality Committee, nicknamed the Green Team.

Founded in 2015, the Green Team focuses on tangible steps that Uplands can take to support the health of residents, staff members and the environment. Committee members research and present information about best practices to improve the health of the environment and anyone who steps foot on the 500-acre campus.

The committee is cochaired by Dr. Marie Fortune and Dennis Gregg.

Projects that came to fruition in 2017 included the implementation of a robust recycling program to reduce the cost of waste management at Uplands Village; a new policy to prohibit use of pesticides and herbicides by Uplands staff members and vendors; and a buffer policy to protect the wetlands, lakes, pond and streams on the campus. The committee began working to live in harmony with the beaver population that has returned to the region and is working on an initiative to improve storm water management through environmentally friendly or green practices.

Recycling at Uplands Village

The recycling program in rural Pleasant Hill, Tennessee, is a model program for the state. Even though the community is small, with a population of just 500, Uplands provides curbside recycling pickup.

That is unheard of in the state of Tennessee, committee member Dr. Anne Ganley said, particularly given the rural nature of the area.

“That is all because of the longtime environmental activism and volunteerism here,” she said. “Uplanders work, volunteer and give on behalf of a healthy environment.”

The 2017 recycling initiative involved setting up recycling sites campuswide so staff members would have places to recycle as well. It is a cost-saving initiative that also helps the environment and improves the health of residents and staff.

“We’ve had a very high rate of recycling by residents because that’s been a longtime concern for them,” Anne said. “Now, we are working to change practices at Uplands’ organization-owned buildings.”

The recycling project was a multistep initiative launched last year. Planning began in late 2016. The next phase will be to evaluate how the program is working and to adjust as needed.

Protecting Our Waters and Ourselves

The board, armed with research provided by the Green Team, passed a policy in 2017 to prohibit the use of pesticides and herbicides by Uplands’ staff and vendors. They invite residents who own property to attend educational events that encourage the elimination of toxic chemicals because of the health hazards to residents and staff and the potential impact on the waters.

“It’s not about controlling individual residents on their property, although we invite them to participate,” Anne said, adding the committee hopes Uplands Village will lead by example.

Buffer Policy

Related to that initiative was a new board policy to create a buffer around the waters on the Uplands campus, including the pristine Lake Laura and Lake Alice. When the board saw that Lake Laura was beginning to degrade rapidly, due in part to a 2016 drought, it passed a policy to create a natural buffer zone that acts as a filter for the lakes and improves the health of the water. Mowing and applying chemicals around the lakes are prohibited.

Through the water quality effort, the Green Team found that beavers, which had returned to the area in recent years, provide a lot of free maintenance for the lakes. The challenge has been to address flooding and chewing of desirable trees, but the plan to coexist in a productive way with the beavers is underway.

“That’s just part of keeping the environment healthy, which also keeps us, as residents and employees, healthy as well,” Anne said.

In 2018, Uplands began addressing stormwater runoff, a major challenge on campus. The Green Team began with an assessment and shared best practices that increase the ability of the land to absorb the water, rather than damaging Uplands Village or resident properties.

The committee will also continue to look for alternative energy options like solar panels for future construction to increase energy efficiency.

“We are continuing our focus in 2019, through environmental sustainability and stewardship, not only to provide a healthier community but also to save money,” Anne said. “In this day and age, this is true for all communities as we try to be cost effective and manage our resources well.”

To this end, residents and staff members alike are invited to “come build with us a green community on top of the Cumberland Plateau,” Anne said.

UCH Honors Recipients with Awards for Leadership, Dedication and Values

Late fall of 2018 proved a time to lift up those who embody the spirit of United Church Homes, as eight individuals accepted awards for their exemplary service to UCH.

“We have a passion for developing and supporting leadership here,” President and CEO Rev. Kenneth Daniel said. “We’ve been blessed over the years with people giving time and talent, as volunteers, donors and staff, and we value this time to recognize their impactful contributions to our organization.”


Rev. Dr. Robert Diller Legacy Leadership Award – Rev. John Rainey

John Rainey Rev Dr Diller AwardThe Legacy Leadership Award is named after the late Rev. Dr. Robert Diller, who joined the UCH Board of Directors in 1945. Over the next 31 years, he helped move the organization from a single location that served 125 residents to include five communities serving over 800 individuals. Rev. Diller served as the first president and CEO of United Church Homes. The award honors those whose leadership commitment to UCH echoes Rev. Dr. Diller’s high levels of vision, perseverance and faith.

Rev. John Rainey is the second recipient of the award, and like Rev. Dr. Diller, his service to UCH has spanned decades, starting in the mid-1940s when he was a young boy. He and his family supplied canned food from their garden to the Evangelical and Reformed Home for the Aged in Upper Sandusky, Ohio (currently known as UCH’s Fairhaven Community). Fast-forward to 1970 when John decided to run for the UCH Board. He secured the spot and spent the next 24 years as a Board member, once serving as secretary, which he considered one of the most challenging and enjoyable jobs he’s had.

Through the years, John also had the opportunity to forge a relationship with one of UCH’s greatest benefactors, Ruth Frost Parker. Ruth, who was on the UCH Board with John, didn’t drive, so he transported her to and from Board meetings. The time spent together resulted in many enlightening and enjoyable conversations. A few years later, John attended the groundbreaking of UCH’s Parkvue Community in Sandusky, Ohio, where he now resides with his husband, Gene Finnegan. To this day, John’s service to United Church Homes continues. Together with Gene, he volunteers at the front desk and serves as an ambassador to new residents. The two also host Parkvue’s Happy Hour, deliver mail to residents and give campus tours upon request. John is also an accomplished quilter and makes teddy bears as gifts.

On top of all that, Parkvue Director of Resident Services Shannon Graver said, “Gene and John walk the halls or campus (depending on weather) for exercise every day and report anything that should be brought to my attention.

“I genuinely love those two,” she added. “They are wonderful advocates for UCH and also a great support to me!”


President’s Award of Distinction – Rev. Beth Long-Higgins

The President’s Award of Distinction honors people within UCH who significantly advance its mission to transform aging by building a culture of community, wholeness and peace.

“The purpose is to celebrate people who have done something of such merit and impact that it creates transformative change in some way,” Rev. Daniel said.

This is certainly true of Rev. Beth Long-Higgins.

Beth Long Higgins Pres Award of DistinctionBeth’s long history with United Church Homes began in the late 1960s at Chapel Hill Community when her church hosted one month’s birthday celebrations for residents. In 1974, her grandparents moved into Chapel Hill, living there until their deaths in 1981. For many years, Beth and her husband served as copastors at David’s United Church of Christ in Canal Winchester. One reason they were interested in the congregation was because of its involvement with United Church Homes’ leadership. Beth spent six years on the UCH Board, chairing the housing and long-range planning committees. In 2013, she joined the UCH staff as director of church and community relations. Now she’s the executive director of the Ruth Frost Parker Center for Abundant Aging.

During Beth’s tenure, she led the reinvigoration of UCH’s relationships with churches that have historically supported and formed UCH communities. Also in the years since Beth joined the staff, the organization developed its mission, vision and core values, which Beth helped write. More recently, she constructed the Community Benefits Program that encourages and records how each UCH community engages with their greater local communities.

Rev. Daniel surprised Beth with the award, saying, “Perhaps no one is more deserving of this award than Beth.”


LUV Awards – United Church Homes Staff Members

The Living UCH Values (LUV) Award honors staff members who every day demonstrate the highest commitment to United Church Homes’ core values of compassion, hospitality, respect, integrity, stewardship and transparency. Nominations for the award come from fellow staff members, supervisors, volunteers, friends or family members.

The 2018 winners include Monica Smiley and Linda Bell, Chapel Hill Community; Sharon Frisch, Fairhaven Community; Barb Mugrage, Harmar Place; Kevin Sanders, Parkvue Community; and Jen Wilson, Trinity Community.

“We are pleased to honor these outstanding staff members for their dedication to their residents and all those they come into contact with,” said Alyson Issler, corporate director of human resources.

LUV Award Winners 2019

Barrington Square Resident Gives to Premature Babies

 

Mei Lin gives to premature babies

Mei Lin has crocheted hundreds of hats and scarves for various organizations and individuals, children’s hospitals, veterans’ groups, hospices, homeless shelters and cancer centers.

Mei Lin is a 75-year-old resident of Barrington Square in Acworth, Georgia. In 1961, she emigrated from Taiwan to New York, where her husband owned and operated a gift shop. They relocated to Savannah, Georgia, where their daughter was born in 1967, two months early. Having lost their first child as the result of a premature birth, they feared their daughter would not make it. She did survive and has done well in life, but the experience left Mei Lin with a desire to do something for others.

After the death of her first husband, Mei Lin worked as a restaurant manager in Atlanta. She later remarried and moved to New Hampshire, where she and her husband ran their own restaurant for about 20 years. On the way to visit her daughter in Georgia, they were in a terrible car accident that ultimately claimed the life of her husband in 2008. Mei Lin chose to sell her home in New Hampshire and return to Georgia to be close to her daughter. She learned to crochet, then got the idea to crochet hats for premature babies in neonatal intensive care units all over the country.

Mei Lin cannot read English but can crochet any pattern by sight alone and, most recently, by watching YouTube videos. She is incredibly talented and thoughtful. Since moving to Barrington Square three years ago, Mei Lin has crocheted hundreds of hats and scarves, which have been delivered to various organizations and individuals, locally and nationwide, including children’s hospitals, veterans’ groups, hospices, homeless shelters and cancer centers.

Mei Lin always makes sure to keep some hats with her and has been known to give them away randomly to people she encounters, whether at the grocery store, food bank, senior center or within Barrington Square. She is adamant about one thing — the donations she makes to larger organizations must remain anonymous. Why? Because Mei Lin does it out of the kindness of her heart and the joy she feels from doing for others.

For donations, Mei Lin includes a card from her church, Hickory Grove Baptist Church, and uses their return address. The church often helps with shipping the items that Mei Lin creates. Because she doesn’t like being in the spotlight, she was hesitant at first to share her story with United Church Homes. But her giving nature won out, and she agreed, adding that if UCH knows of anyone in need, she will gladly make some hats for them.

From Millie, with Love

Simple acts of kindness from a Parkvue residentNever underestimate the impact a small act of kindness has on the world. Meet Millie Schilman, whose kindness extends to each and every resident of Parkvue Community in Sandusky, Ohio.

For the past couple of years, Millie has dedicated most of her free time to one simple act of kindness — sending greeting cards to the residents of Parkvue. At the beginning of each month, she creates a list of birthdays, making sure not to miss a single resident. When someone is in the hospital or loses a loved one, Millie sends a card to offer comfort. When residents move from assisted living at Parkvue Place to long-term care at Parkvue Healthcare, Millie lets them know they’re still close at heart, even if they’ve moved locations. And when Christmas rolls around, Millie delivers a holiday card to every single resident in both buildings.

The fact that she sends these cards is no surprise to those who know Millie. She grew up just a block from the American Greeting Card Company in Cleveland, Ohio, and she used to walk there to buy discounted cards as a child. When Millie was in second grade, she made her first card — her class was tasked with making the third-graders cards.

“My teacher, Miss Warner, told us, ‘No one should ever go without a valentine,’” Millie said, “so we ended up making two valentines for each student. Then we tiptoed across the hall and slipped the valentines under the (third-grade classroom) door. That’s about all I remember, but Miss Warner saying that has stuck with me.”

Another moment in Millie’s life endeared the art of giving greeting cards to her. Her mother-in-law kept scrapbooks in which she pressed every card she’d ever received.

“Every card meant something to her,” Millie said. “That made me realize that even though we live in a (digital) world, to hold a card in your hand, to say ‘this is my card,’ well, that means something.”

Throughout her school years, Millie and her friends exchanged cards. She said it was an inexpensive way to show people that you care. She also said sometimes the cards they traded weren’t always kind but often funny. She shared the message from a valentine she received as a girl (and remembered after all these years!):

millie cardWhen Millie’s husband asked her father for Millie’s hand in marriage, her father even joked that he better buy stock in the card company if he wanted to marry Millie.

A children’s librarian by trade, Millie has been a joy to all who meet her, and throughout her life, she gave greeting cards — spreading that joy to others. Five years ago, she fell and landed on her shoulder, shattering it. She spent a month recovering, and her daughters suggested she and her husband move to assisted living. Although they were reluctant to move, Millie said living at Parkvue turned out to be “swell.” They lived there a year before her husband suffered a stroke and then continued enjoying each other’s company until he passed away in 2018.

At Parkvue, Millie took over sending cards from another resident, and she began sending those first cards anonymously. She would tuck cards into doorways and mailboxes and then silently walk away. The cards would be waiting for residents when they opened their doors, but they had no idea who sent them. Once a resident opened the door just as Millie turned to leave, and both women screamed.

Parkvue Resident, Millie Schilman“She said, ‘Millie! You!’ and I said yes,” Millie said, chuckling. And that’s how residents found out who had been sending them cards.

Millie doesn’t take credit for the kind gesture. She signs each card with “Blessings from all your fellow residents at Parkvue Place.”

“They are truly from all of us, not just me,” she said.

This past Christmas, Millie sent 294 cards, an incredible amount, especially considering she’s also sending sympathy, get well and birthday cards. When asked where she gets her supply, she said that staff and residents donate them to her.

Once, she received 77 valentines, and she wondered what to do with them. “We have 87 residents here at Parkvue Place,” she said, “but God really does provide. I decided to send the valentines to people in the healthcare building. It turns out they were the ones who really needed them. One woman said that was the only card she ever got.”

Millie already has her cards picked out for 2019, and she has no plans to stop. “It’s a likeable job — a little time consuming, but I sit with a cup of coffee and select cards for different residents,” she said. “Some have great senses of humor, and others don’t. We’re all different.”

Thank you, Millie, for your thoughtfulness!

Glenwood Earns Community Choice Award for Engagement

Residents of United Church Homes’ Glenwood Community in Marietta, Ohio, are an active bunch. The community has a high percentage of residents who are engaged with the local community, from volunteering at the hospital to participating in intergenerational programming at a school.

Glenwood Community has earned a 2018 Community Choice Award from Holleran, a group that focuses on community engagement research and consulting. Holleran has the largest benchmark of senior living engagement scores by which campuses can compare performance relative to their peers.

Backed by 26 years of research and uncompromised measures, Holleran provides campuses with the data they need to increase employee retention and provide a culture of engagement with residents.

Holleran surveyed residents and staff members to gauge their satisfaction with the engagement opportunities at Glenwood. Glenwood’s scores are exceptional in comparison to other communities.

Read more about some active, engaged older adults thriving at Glenwood Community.

John: Hospital Volunteer

John, a hospital volunteerJohn has lived at Glenwood since August, but his involvement in the community goes back decades. Most recently, John volunteered at Marietta Memorial Health System, where volunteers make a huge difference for employees, patients, families and visitors.

John wakes before sunrise, Monday through Friday, to greet visitors of Memorial Health System at the Strecker Cancer Center in Marietta. A scientist, executive and entrepreneur, John recently wrote a report on the effect of saying “good morning” to people as they entered one of the facilities.

During John’s study, he greeted everyone with “good morning” and received many positive responses. The number of people he greeted totaled more than 1,000. The traffic flow from 6 to 8 a.m. averaged 65 people — 80 percent staff and 20 percent patients. From 8 a.m. until noon, that changed, averaging 75 people — 25 percent staff and 75 percent patients.

Saying “good morning” changed attitudes, John said. “I see everybody, and they see me,” he added. “After the first seven days, it really caught on. It changed patients’ mindsets as they went to their appointments. Some are in really bad shape, but simply greeting them with ‘good morning’ brought a smile to many faces.”

It helps that people in Marietta are so friendly, John said.

John’s journey to Glenwood Community, a place he calls “terrific,” included four years working in Europe. When he returned to America, he become president of the board for the local senior center. There, he started a program that led to savings of more than $3 million on prescription medications for local older adults.

John traveled to every continent except Antarctica. He served on numerous boards and committees. But John’s passion is music and theater. He spent most of his life doing charity shows and even wrote a play about Benjamin Franklin.

Today, John continues to serve on the local Eagles board.

Bob and Helen: Intergenerational Heroes

Bob and Helen intergenerational HeroesAt age 83, Bob enjoys attending school. He participates in the Reader’s Theater and the intergenerational program with Phillips School. Once a month, Glenwood residents visit teacher Nicole Maxon’s first-grade classroom.

“You just fall in love with those kids,” Bob said. “It feels so good to spend time with them and makes you realize that there are a lot of good kids in the world who want to learn and need attention. When you give them some care, they light up. Too many kids don’t get enough love.”

Bob also enjoys walking around Glenwood and talking to the many residents who have lived diverse experiences. He is instrumental in the upkeep of Glenwood’s gardens and solarium.

“I just want to be helpful,” Bob said.

Helen is another resident who regulary goes to Phillips School. Her late husband was a pastor, and today Helen serves on First Baptist Church’s board of deacons. Helen traveled the world, participating in international missions. She also helps organize local food drives and clothing collections. Helen heads up four special offerings per year at her church.

A former elementary school teacher, she also advocates for youth throughout the world to attend school. Some countries, like the Democratic Republic of Congo, historically only sent their boys to secondary school.

“We tell them that we won’t take their boys unless they bring their girls, too,” Helen said. “It really humbles you.”

Mary: Dedicated Volunteer

Mary, dedicated volunteerMary and her late husband, Jim, were Christian counselors in Meigs County, Ohio. Now that she’s at Glenwood, she continues her volunteer work with the Marietta community.

Mary volunteers at St. Paul’s Evangelical Church’s Grief Share, a faith-inspired program to help individuals overcoming loss. The program offers a safe space for people to process their grief, and Mary serves as a facilitator for the 13-week course.

Mary also volunteers with Meals on Wheels and the Retired Senior Volunteer Program.

“Whatever they ask me to do, I do,” she said.

Glenwood Community Earns National Recognition

MARIETTA – Glenwood Community, a United Church Homes community, has been recognized by Holleran, the nation’s leading research firm specializing in senior living and community engagement.

Glenwood was one of only two communities nationwide to receive the Choice Community Award for both their resident and employee engagement efforts. Along with Aldersgate Retirement Community (Methodist Senior Services), Glenwood sits firmly within the top 1 percent of senior living organizations in the country.

“We’re honored to receive this award from Holleran,” said Linda Dailey, executive director of Glenwood Community. “Our residents are active in community service projects and volunteer in many ways. It is rewarding to work with a team of employees and residents that make every day a pleasure.”

Holleran’s new Choice Community Award recognizes organizations with strong cultures of engagement. Awards are granted by exceeding Holleran’s “Engagement Index” benchmark with a mean score of 85 or higher on a 100-point scale.

“For a community to earn the Choice Community Award, it must be a cut above,” said Michele Holleran, CEO. “To become a Choice Community recipient is to earn a distinction that is truly meaningful. It means that the campus is a place where engagement is deeply felt; a place where residents are successfully aging and where employees are passionate.”

Holleran has the largest benchmark of its kind, measuring both resident and employee engagement in the senior living space. Currently, the benchmark comprises more than 160,000 resident and employee surveys, all completed within the past two years. This enables organizations to compare their performance to their peers, whether they are across the road or across the country. Utilizing this extensive body of research, Holleran’s Choice Community Awards recognize the most engaging senior living organizations in the nation.

Glenwood Community offers independent and assisted living residences for older adults on its beautiful 70-acre campus. Its mission is to transform aging by building a culture of community, wholeness and peace.

For more information about Glenwood Community, visit glenwoodretirement.org.

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About United Church Homes: United Church Homes, headquartered in Marion, Ohio, has been “Celebrating the Spirit” of seniors for more than a century. The faith-inspired nonprofit organization is one of the nation’s largest providers of senior living services, with more than 1,800 dedicated staff serving nearly 5,000 residents of all faiths in 74 senior living communities throughout 14 states and two Native American nations. UCH is in covenant with the United Church of Christ and welcomes residents of all faiths.

Media Contact: Alissa Paolella, Communications Coordinator, 740.382.4885 or apaolella@uchinc.org

Brownstone Terrace to receive funding from 100 Women Who Care Marion

MARION – A grant from 100 Women Who Care Marion will go a long way to providing comfort and a positive dining experience for residents of Brownstone Terrace, a United Church Homes affordable housing community.

Each quarter, the 100 Women Who Care group selects one project to support, and they voted to fund an upgrade to Brownstone at their Feb. 4, 2019, meeting. The 100 Women Who Care group is a national organization with local chapters in various cities, including Marion. Only nonprofit organizations are eligible to apply for grant funding.

Each member nominates an organization to receive funding during the meetings. Those nominations are drawn at random, and three are chosen to present to the group at the next meeting. Members who are present vote for a winner of the grant funding for that quarter.

Brownstone Terrace has 36 residents and was built in 1991. Its residents must be 62 years or older or have a handicap or mobility impairment.

At the meeting, resident Kathy Handley shared her journey to the community. Undergoing surgery two years ago, she was on life support for four days and in the hospital for 21 days and stayed at Heartland of Marion before moving into Brownstone.

“Brownstone has given me a secure place to live and get my strength back,” Handley said.

Brownstone, which still has its original furniture from 1991, will use the funds for new chairs and tables in the community room as well as patio furniture for residents to enjoy the outdoors. “We’d like to make (the community space) look like a dining room because now it looks like a school cafeteria,” Handley added.

In total, the community will receive approximately $5,000 from 100 Women Who Care.

United Church Homes, based in Marion, serves nearly 5,000 residents in 14 states and two Native American nations. Sixty-one of its communities are affordable housing, funded through U.S. Housing and Urban Development. Residents pay only 30 percent of their adjusted monthly income for rent.

For more information about United Church Homes, visit unitedchurchhomes.org.

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About United Church Homes: United Church Homes, headquartered in Marion, Ohio, has been “Celebrating the Spirit” of seniors for more than a century. The faith-inspired nonprofit organization is one of the nation’s largest providers of senior living services, with more than 1,800 dedicated staff serving nearly 5,000 residents of all faiths in 74 senior living communities throughout 14 states and two Native American nations. UCH is in covenant with the United Church of Christ and welcomes residents of all faiths.

Contact: Alissa Paolella, United Church Homes Office of Communications 740.382.4885 or apaolella@uchinc.org

Grants Fund Opening Minds through Art at Harmar Place

MARIETTA, Ohio – Harmar Place, a United Church Homes community, will continue its Opening Minds through Art program for residents living with dementia thanks to two grants from the local community

The grants, totaling $2,050, came from the Marietta Welfare League and the Binkley Charitable Fund, a fund of the Marietta Community Foundation. Funding will pay for art supplies for the program.

“We are thankful to both the Marietta Welfare League and the Binkley Charitable Fund for their support of our OMA program,” Harmar Place Administrator Sue Boulton said.

OMA is an award-winning, intergenerational program for people with Alzheimer’s and dementia-related illnesses. It is designed to provide residents with the creative freedom to expand their choices and sense of control. OMA uses art and self-expression, coupled with person-directed care principles, to build a bridge across age and cognitive barriers.

The program originated with Scripps Gerontology Center, an Ohio center of excellence at Miami University. OMA sessions are led by trained facilitators. Each older adult is paired with a trained volunteer who provides guidance during art making but who makes no aesthetic decisions for the artist.

Last year, 15 students from Marietta High School volunteered for OMA, providing meaningful intergenerational programming. The students enjoyed it and many are volunteering for future sessions, further impacting the younger generation by eliminating the stigma of aging and opening minds to the possibility of an aging services career.

The goals of the program include promoting the social engagement, autonomy and dignity of people living with dementia by providing creative self-expression opportunities; providing staff and volunteers opportunities to build close relationships with people living with dementia; and showing the public the creative self-expression capacities of people living with dementia through exhibitions of their artwork.

For more information about United Church Homes, visit unitedchurchhomes.org.

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About United Church Homes: United Church Homes, headquartered in Marion, Ohio, has been “Celebrating the Spirit” of seniors for more than a century. The faith-inspired nonprofit organization is one of the nation’s largest providers of senior living services, with more than 1,800 dedicated staff serving nearly 5,000 residents of all faiths in 74 senior living communities throughout 14 states and two Native American nations. UCH is in covenant with the United Church of Christ and welcomes residents of all faiths.

Media Contact: Alissa Paolella, Communications Coordinator, 740.382.4885 or apaolella@uchinc.org

Sanders recognized with LUV Award at Parkvue Community

The LUV Award recognizes and honors staff members who demonstrate the highest commitment to United Church Homes’ core values of compassion, hospitality, respect, integrity, stewardship and transparency. Nominations may be made by staff members, volunteers, residents or their families.

Kevin was nominated for his demonstration of integrity within the community. Kevin displays great team spirit and works alongside his staff members to provide a fine-dining experience to Parkvue residents. He shows his commitment to the team by supporting them in their daily work. Kevin, who has worked at Parkvue for about a year, has proved to be a great example of a servant leader, demonstrated daily in his commitment to and support of the Parkvue dining services team.

He is a graduate of the 2018 UCH LEADS class. LEADS stands for leadership, education, achievement, development and success.

“We are pleased to honor Kevin for his dedication to the residents and all those he comes into contact with at Parkvue Community,” said Alyson Issler, corporate director of human resources.

For more information about United Church Homes, visit unitedchurchhomes.org.

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About United Church Homes: United Church Homes is one of the nation’s largest providers of senior living services, with more than 74 senior living communities in 14 states and two Native American nations. Its Ruth Frost Parker Center for Abundant Aging brings together experts of various disciplines to collaborate on improving the quality of life for older adults.

Media Contact: Alissa Paolella, Communications Coordinator, 740.382.4885 or apaolella@uchinc.org

Mugrage recognized with LUV Award at Harmar Place

The LUV Award recognizes and honors staff members who demonstrate the highest commitment to United Church Homes’ core values of compassion, hospitality, respect, integrity, stewardship and transparency. Nominations may be made by staff members, volunteers, residents or their families.

Barbara was selected for the LUV Award for exhibiting all of those values. In addition, Barbara always has a smile and a hug for residents. Her cheerfulness and positivity help residents and families feel reassured in their experience at Harmar Place. One resident declared that Barbara embodies the spirit of her profession.

“We are pleased to honor Barbara for her dedication to the residents and all those she comes into contact with at Harmar Place,” said Alyson Issler, corporate director of human resources.

For more information about United Church Homes, visit unitedchurchhomes.org.

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About United Church Homes: United Church Homes is one of the nation’s largest providers of senior living services, with more than 74 senior living communities in 14 states and two Native American nations. Its Ruth Frost Parker Center for Abundant Aging brings together experts of various disciplines to collaborate on improving the quality of life for older adults.

Media Contact: Alissa Paolella, Communications Coordinator, 740.382.4885 or apaolella@uchinc.org

Smiley, Bell recognized with LUV Award at Chapel Hill Community

Monica SmileyThe LUV Award recognizes and honors staff members who demonstrate the highest commitment to United Church Homes’ core values of compassion, hospitality, respect, integrity, stewardship and transparency. Nominations may be made by staff members, volunteers, residents or their families.

Monica was nominated for her compassion toward residents, families and co-workers. She has been working at Chapel Hill for nearly one year, but in her short tenure, Monica has stolen the hearts of new residents, making them feel welcomed and comfortable in their new home, and working to show them that she cares for their needs and wants.

“Monica is a natural at her job,” Chapel Hill Executive Director Debbie Durbin said.

Linda has worked at Chapel Hill for 15 years and was nominated based on her demonstration of all six UCH core values. Linda is described as a hero at Chapel Hill. Residents, visitors and co-workers notice Linda’s hard work and determination to care for residents with high standards and patience. She also has taken on the challenge of helping to train new staff members.

“We are pleased to honor Monica and Linda for their dedication to their residents and all those they come into contact with at Chapel Hill Community,” said Alyson Issler, corporate director of human resources.

For more information about United Church Homes, visit unitedchurchhomes.org.

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About United Church Homes: United Church Homes is one of the nation’s largest providers of senior living services, with more than 74 senior living communities in 14 states and two Native American nations. Its Ruth Frost Parker Center for Abundant Aging brings together experts of various disciplines to collaborate on improving the quality of life for older adults.

Media Contact: Alissa Paolella, Communications Coordinator, 740.382.4885 or apaolella@uchinc.org

Frisch recognized with LUV Award at Fairhaven Community

Sharon Frisch with Fairhaven teamThe LUV Award recognizes and honors staff members who demonstrate the highest commitment to United Church Homes’ core values of compassion, hospitality, respect, integrity, stewardship and transparency. Nominations may be made by staff members, volunteers, residents or their families.

Sharon has worked at Fairhaven for 16 years. She was nominated for her hospitality toward the community’s residents and staff members. Sharon is always willing to lend her co-workers a hand and jumps in when she sees an area where she can support her team and ultimately make life better for residents.

“We are pleased to honor Sharon for her dedication to the residents and all those she comes into contact with at Fairhaven Community,” said Alyson Issler, corporate director of human resources.

For more information about United Church Homes, visit unitedchurchhomes.org.

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About United Church Homes: United Church Homes is one of the nation’s largest providers of senior living services, with more than 74 senior living communities in 14 states and two Native American nations. Its Ruth Frost Parker Center for Abundant Aging brings together experts of various disciplines to collaborate on improving the quality of life for older adults.

Media Contact: Alissa Paolella, Communications Coordinator, 740.382.4885 or apaolella@uchinc.org

Campaign for Abundant Life

Campaign for Abundant Life is on pace to reach goal of $20 millionThe Campaign for Abundant Life is increasing in momentum as more individuals, churches and community partners respond with support. 2018 marks year two of the five-year comprehensive campaign. The goal is to raise funds for charitable care, pastoral care, the Ruth Frost Parker Center for Abundant Aging, updated campuses for long-term care communities and supportive services for affordable housing. To date, United Church Homes has raised over $12.8 million. Below is a breakdown of funding raised:

Campaign for Abundant Life breakdown of funding

A Journey from Kenya to Friendship Plaza

From Kenya to Friendship Plaza, Lincoln Heights, Ohio

When it was incorporated in 1947, Lincoln Heights was the first primarily black self-governing community north of the Mason-Dixon line. Today, it has one of the highest concentrations of African-American residents in the state of Ohio — 95.5 percent — according to the census.

Yvonne’s journey to Friendship Plaza included being a resident in Kenya. Yvonne and Peter met as students at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. He pursued her for nearly two years while she studied English. At first, she was hesitant to accept his admiration, but Peter won over Yvonne and they married after graduation. They moved to Kenya in 1962, a time of turmoil for the African country as it sought independence from British rule.

“I thought he looked lost, so I went to help him and he fell in love with me,” Yvonne said. “I used to tell him, ‘You’re not in love with me — you’re just homesick.’”

Peter, who passed away in the 1990s, served as the assistant secretary of state of Kenya. Through this role, the couple met and dined with dignitaries and heads of state for African countries.

In Kenya, Yvonne was a housewife and mother of two children, a boy and a girl, who both decided to stay in Kenya as adults. The family visited London and France for sightseeing and often went to the game park in Kenya. The wildlife refuge featured all sorts of animals, but Yvonne distinctly remembers the lions.

“It was neat to be able to get close to the wildlife and see them in their natural habitats,” she said.

Yvonne hopes to return to Kenya in the future to visit her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Supporters Honored at Donor Appreciation Events

At each event, UCH presented three awards — the Diakonie Award, the Spirit Award and the Ben M. Herbster Award.


Diakonie awardThe Diakonie Award is presented to congregations to honor those who have demonstrated faithfulness in their support of the mission of United Church Homes and its communities.

Spirit award 1377The Spirit Award is presented to individuals who best exemplify the volunteerism, advocacy, inspiration and spirit for the residents and their families of United Church Homes communities.

Ben M Herbster award 1381The Herbster Award is presented to individuals who best exemplify the philosophy, leadership, philanthropic spirit and achievements of the late Rev. Dr. Ben M. Herbster, the first president of the United Church of Christ. After his retirement, Rev. Dr. Herbster served as a member and chairman of the Board of Directors of United Church Homes.


1. Rev. Jean Montgomery, St. John’s, Massillon, Diakonie Award recipient. 2. Fairhaven Administrator Lori Marsh, Herbster Award recipients Mark and Nancy Johnson and Rev. Kenneth Daniel, president and CEO of United Church Homes. 3. United Church Homes President and CEO Rev. Kenneth Daniel, Four Winds Spirit Award recipient Frank Doenges, Four Winds Chaplain Rev. Hannah Niday and Administrator Mary Casey. 4. Allan Norris, Glenwood Community Spirit Award recipient, and his wife, Carol. 5. United Church Homes President and CEO Rev. Kenneth Daniel, United Church Homes Management Executive Director Karen Messick, Anne Marks Gaertner, Herbster Award recipient, Jim Gaertner, David Marks and Cathy Green, Board chair of United Church Homes. 6. Sherry McKay, Calvary Baptist Church, Parkvue Community Diakonie Award recipient. 7. Members of the Trinity Community Auxiliary, the Spirit Award recipient for Trinity Community.

UCH Supports Staff Members through Liver Transplant

MaryJane, liver transplant recipient

On Aug. 27, MaryJane received a clean bill of health from doctors at her 11-year checkup after receiving a liver transplant.

In 1997, MaryJane was diagnosed with Hepatitis C, a viral infection that causes liver inflammation and eventually led to cirrhosis. In 2000, doctors told MaryJane she would need a liver transplant, but she waited another seven years before receiving the gift of life.

MaryJane is a former housing manager and the current service coordinator at the Immokalee property, while Mitch serves as maintenance director. Throughout MaryJane’s health journey, UCH has provided support and love to the couple.

When MaryJane was first diagnosed with Hepatitis C, she started walking at least 5 miles every day. She lost weight, going from about 250 pounds to 130 today.

“They told me that, for my transplant, I would have to be in pretty good shape or I might not get it,” MaryJane said.

MaryJane in the hospital recovering from a liver transplantThe last six months before the transplant were the hardest on MaryJane’s body and spirit.

“I was still in good health, but I was taking pills for water retention because my liver wasn’t working at 100 percent,” she said.

Two weeks before the scheduled transplant, MaryJane boarded a small plane that would take her from Painesville to Jacksonville, Florida. Angel Flight Southeast, an organization that flies patients to life-saving medical treatment, had donated travel expenses. But minutes after boarding the plane, MaryJane received devastating news — she had an infection that would keep her from receiving a new liver.

After seven months, on July 6, 2007, MaryJane finally received her transplant. One anti-rejection medication caused MaryJane to be nonresponsive for almost a month, and doctors told Mitch that MaryJane was in a coma.

MaryJane and Mitch“It’s very tough on a person and the people who are around you,” Mitch said. “The last four to five months before the transplant, she would have to go get water removed from her abdomen twice a week. They would risk an infection every time they put a needle into her belly. Her liver was almost nonexistent.”

Throughout the transplant and healing process, UCH has been supportive of MaryJane and Mitch, who have been together 29 years.

MaryJane said she is thankful someone chose to give the gift of life.

“Through an act of selflessness, several people are walking around today because that one person decided to donate,” Mitch said. “That made me become a donor.”

Charitable Giving Strategies for Those 70 ½+: The Charitable IRA Rollover

Charitable Giving Strategies

By utilizing this giving technique, Linda is able to give in a very tax advantaged way. The IRA charitable rollover allows her to exclude the IRA distribution to the charities of her choice from her adjusted gross income (AGI). Thus, she is able to save income tax on this charitable gift. Additionally, the reduction of her AGI may reduce the taxation of her Social Security benefits and any deductibility “floors” limiting certain expenses (e.g., 7.5 percent for medical expenses in year 2018) and various other tax items.

While the IRA charitable rollover provides unique tax benefits not found with other types of gifts, there are some requirements and restrictions. You must be age 70 ½ or older at the time of the gift and are limited to transferring $100,000 to qualified public charities each year. Additionally, the gift must come directly from the IRA administrator to the charitable organization. You can’t receive your distribution and then pass it on to the charity. Lastly, the charity cannot have provided you any goods or services in exchange for the IRA charitable rollover.

If you would like to learn more about making a contribution to United Church Homes from your IRA, please contact Gloria Hurwitz, vice president of advancement and communications, at ghurwitz@uchinc.org or 740.751.8702. Additionally, United Church Homes is making available to its friends and stakeholders a complimentary values-based estate planning process designed to help individuals and couples think through their goals and objectives to create a comprehensive estate plan. For more information on how you can be added to the waiting list for this process, you can also reach out to Gloria Hurwitz using the above contact information.

Becky Stacy Joins UCH to Lead Pilgrim Manor

Becky Stacy, Pilgrim Manor Administrator

Becky was searching for career opportunities closer to family when she learned of the position at Pilgrim Manor. While interviewing with interim administrator and United Church Homes Management Executive Director Karen Messick, Becky learned of the organization’s mission, vision and core values.

“I was excited to find a community that had values that aligned closely with how I strive to live every day,” Becky said. “The staff was friendly, and the residents appeared happy. This was important to me. I felt like this was the type of community that I could make my work-home.”

Becky graduated from Valparaiso University in 2005 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism and photography. She received her Master of Business Administration from DePaul University in 2009.

Most recently, Becky was the executive director at Golden LivingCenter — Valparaiso, a skilled nursing and memory care community. Prior to working there, she was the administrator at The Forum at the Crossing in Indianapolis, Indiana. In this continuing care retirement community, Becky managed both assisted living memory care and skilled nursing with a focus on short-term rehabilitation.

Becky began her skilled nursing administrator career at Hickory Creek Healthcare in Franklin, Indiana, where she was proud to receive a deficiency-free survey.

Becky said the UCH core values align closely with her own personal values.

“I try to live my life with integrity and in a way that shows compassion to others,” she said. “A large part of any administrator’s role is stewardship and making appropriate decisions with the resources available. This isn’t always easy or simple, but it is important that stewardship remains a strong focus.”

In her new role, Becky is most looking forward to getting to know everyone at Pilgrim Manor.

“It is important to me that I learn all that I can about the residents entrusted to our care in an effort to best serve them,” she said. “The same goes for the staff — learning their personalities, work habits and communication styles will better help me facilitate success in their work.”

Having recently attended her first Celebrate the Spirit Gala hosted by the Pilgrim Manor Foundation, Becky added she is excited to be part of an organization with a charitable focus. The 15th annual Celebrate the Spirit Gala, held in October at New Vintage Place, raised over $100,000 for the Compassionate Care Fund, which provides support for Pilgrim Manor residents who have outlived or depleted their financial resources.

Becky lives with her husband, Mike, in East Grand Rapids, only about 3 miles from Pilgrim Manor. The couple has a 2-year-old daughter, Violet. Becky said she is also excited to live close to her parents and sisters in western Michigan.

United Church Homes recently welcomed Amy Bonacuse as the New Director of Marketing

Introducing Amy Bonacuse, UCH's new Director of Marketing

Amy is a native of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and a graduate of Shippensburg University, where she studied communications and public relations. She started her career in retail healthcare, working in public relations for Rite Aid Corporation while that chain was on a fast-track to national growth. Career opportunities brought Amy to Ohio 17 years ago.

Recently, she was looking to make a career change and targeted senior living because she loves the healthcare field and has personal experience with family members who are living in care communities. A former peer of Amy’s knew UCH President and CEO Rev. Kenneth Daniel through the MarionMade campaign, an effort that recognizes the city of Marion’s past and focuses on the present and future of the community.

“Some of the most important decisions that families encounter are making sure that their loved ones are cared for. Those are hard decisions to make,” Amy said. “It’s also a growing field and one that I believe in.”

Amy is looking forward to putting her healthcare and consumer marketing experience to work for United Church Homes.

“We are facing growing competition in our industry, but competition isn’t all bad,” Amy said. “It forces you to become super focused on what you do well and continue to innovate. UCH has a great reputation and is working hard to improve how we enrich people’s lives, which is a story I’m looking forward to telling.”

To do that, Amy will be working with marketing directors across UCH to leverage their communities’ unique strengths in local marketing activities. She’ll also be looking at ways to brand UCH signature services and new partnerships as they are introduced.

She was also moved by the vision for the organization and accomplishments UCH has made.

“There’s a lot of integrity here and everyone is very driven to grow the organization and continue to expand our services for older adults,” Amy said. “I’m looking forward to being a part of that momentum.”

In her free time, Amy enjoys traveling, cycling and spending time with her family. She lives with her husband, Tom, in Delaware, Ohio, where Amy serves on the Board for People in Need, Inc. of Delaware County. They have four children.