Working with older people has many rewards, among which is enjoying their tales of significant events in their lives. Some – like the depression or World War II – are universal for those who lived through those times. Most are much more personal – first day of school; death of a sibling, parent, or spouse; loss of a job. Everyone experiences highs and lows during their lives, and sometimes we do not recognize the impact of a given event until years later. Organizations have milestones, too.
Regular newsletter readers will remember the 25th anniversary of St. John’s Community Care in 2010. We spent time that year celebrating the many lives we have touched, board and staff members who have played a part in our successes, and the growth we have experienced in both families served and the types of services offered.
2010 also marked the beginning of our serious effort to develop another Adult Day Program site, which we opened in Edwardsville in February of this year. When we opened our Adult Day Program – Collinsville in 2001, another milestone, we did not dream we would need a second location in order to serve those needing this level of care. Along the way we have collected stories and quotes which capture the impact St. John’s Community Care has on lives challenged by aging and disability. For example, when we asked one of the newer participants at our Adult Day Program – Edwardsville how she liked coming, she volunteered, “We laugh all the time!” A gentleman who was having a tough adjustment to coming to Collinsville daily arrived his second week with us and told a staff member, “I’d been praying and praying that they would let me come back here today!” High praise from someone who had resisted staying with us the week before. A daughter whose parents had used our Home Services for several years as they encountered serious health issues sent thank you notes to each Caregiver, the Care Coordinator, and to me which read, in part, “These nurturing individuals were not only caregivers to my dad – they were his best friends. I can’t thank you enough for always going above and beyond and being so wonderful to my family.”
Milestones can be reason for celebration, for grieving, for reassessing one’s goals, or for making a hard decision. St. John’s Community Care is experiencing a milestone which includes all those dynamics. By the time this newsletter is published, Dana Klassen, our Director of Marketing, will have moved on to another career opportunity. While we rejoice for her, we grieve at our loss of her talent, commitment, and joyous spirit. She has helped me focus on the key skills her successor will need to continue the outreach, branding, and relationships Dana has so capably established for us in the three years she has been here. Dana was our first Director of Marketing, a position which the Board added to our staff as a tool to strengthen and expand our ministries. It was a leap of faith, as adding a position always adds expense, and we were still struggling with late payments from the State of Illinois. Looking back, it was a wise and productive investment in our future. While we will certainly miss Dana, I am grateful that God sent her to us and glad her time with us helped prepare her for this new career step. I am currently receiving resumes to fill her shoes, and I am confident we will find the right match for St. John’s in the next few weeks.
In May I reached a professional milestone as I completed 25 years as Executive Director here. I was deeply touched by the recognition I received from our Board, our staff, and the congregation of St. John Evangelical United Church of Christ. While I have worked hard to make this ministry succeed and expand, it has always been a labor of love, accomplished only with the support and commitment of many others. More important, it has given me the opportunity to live out my faith in my daily work, reaping the gratitude of many of our clients and their families. What an exceptional blessing this position has been for me! I am honored to be able to use my gifts to lead and expand St. John’s Community Care as a very real manifestation of God’s love for His children challenged by aging and disabilities.