Inniswood Village residents move into their new home with the help of National Church Residences volunteers

By Elizabeth Randolph

Erandolph@nationalresidences.org

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Move-ins started on August 15 and now the first wave of new residents can call Inniswood Village home!

Volunteers from both National Church Residences and Downsize with a Heart, a program through Furniture Bank of Ohio, were in attendance to assist the residents with bringing in furniture, clothing and other items. A lemonade stand was also available to refresh volunteers in the almost 90-degree weather.

The community is adjacent to the peaceful and serene Inniswood Metro Gardens and offers residents a carefree and maintenance-free lifestyle. Amenities include a chapel, library, bistro, club room, wellness center, guest suite and community room.  “There are 40 senior living apartments in this building,” said Tiffany Affolter, Corporate Marketing Director in the Senior Living division. “It’s a two-story building and has a [underground] parking garage.”

For some residents, moving into Inniswood Village is the first time they’ve had to downsize from a family home to an apartment. This is the reality for Bette Coles, one of Inniswood Village’s firstresidents.  “Before I moved here I had a six-bedroom house,” said Coles. “At first I thought ‘this isn’t enough room’ but I’m really looking forward to not having to do any repairs because it was an old house.”

Coles, who is from North Columbus, says the decision to move to Inniswood Village seemed like something she was destined to do. “My husband passed away last July and he loved Inniswood Metro Gardens,” said Coles. “He worked as a bus driver in Westerville for years. Inniswood Village just seemed like the perfect place for me.”

While she says moving can be stressful, Coles is happy to be in her new home. “I’m looking forward to meeting everyone,” she said. “Once I get everything situated it’s going to be great.”

Inniswood Village is set to have approximately 15 new residents by August 18.

 

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Bette Coles in her apartment 

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Coles with her nephew in her apartment

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Volunteers from “Downsize with a heart” with a new Inniswood resident

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Doug Himes, VP of Operations for Residential Services is working hard in an Inniswood Village apartment. 

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Items provided by Inniswood Village staff to residents

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Lemonade stand to refresh volunteers

Molina Healthcare brings cooking club to Champion

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Molina Healthcare’s Dr. Cleo poses for a picture with the children at Champion Intergenerational Enrichment and Education Center in Columbus.

By LANCE CRANMER                                                                     lcranmer@nationalchurchresidences.org

COLUMBUS – Dr. Cleo made his first house call to the Champion Intergenerational Enrichment and Education Center in Columbus last week to introduce healthier eating habits for children and seniors.

“This was an event to introduce Molina Healthcare here in the community,” said TaKeysha Sheppard Cheney, the Director of Community Engagement for Molina. “It was a great opportunity to connect with seniors and with kids at a very young age and to be able to educate the public about healthy eating habits.”

Dr. Cleo, Molina’s furry cat doctor mascot, hosts Dr. Cleo’s Cooking Club at various events around the country. His visit to Champion was his first-ever visit to Columbus.

A pair of dieticians presented healthy eating options to the seniors and children, who then, with the help of volunteers from The Ohio State University, got to build their own healthy lunch out of whole grain tortillas, hummus, veggies and turkey.

“The cooking club appeals to both kids and adults,” Cheney said. “The dieticians are Molina employees. And it was great to have volunteers here with us from Ohio State.

“Partnering with National Church Residences is a great opportunity. That collaboration is really important.”

Cheney added that in a time where health care concerns are a hot topic it is important for Molina Healthcare – one of Ohio’s five Medicaid providers – to connect directly with the public.

“People need to know what their options are and what programs they can take advantage of,” she said. “We want to help them better understand health insurance benefits. It can be very difficult for the average customer to understand. We want to try to answer questions and establish that relationship with the community. We want to communicate and build trust.”

The cooking club was well-attended by both the seniors and children who attend Champion, an intergenerational day care center where senior citizens and young children interact on a daily basis through learning programs designed by Ohio State University, Columbus Early Learning Centers and National Church Residences.

(Have a story to share with National Church Residences? Contact Lance Cranmer at 614-273-3809 or e-mail lcranmer@nationalchurchresidences.org.)

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Molina Healthcare’s Dr. Cleo meets with seniors at Champion.

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A dietician with Molina Healthcare speaks with children at Champion Intergenerational Enrichment and Education Center about healthy eating habits.

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New Book Tells Story of Imperial Hotel’s 16-day Occupation

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On June 18, 1990 a group called People for Urban Justice broke into the abandoned Imperial Hotel to hang a sign that said “House the Homeless Here!” The event turned into a 16-day occupation that raised awareness to the plight of Atlanta’s homeless.

 

By LANCE CRANMER                                                               lcranmer@nationalchurchresidences.org

ATLANTA – The banner read, “House the Homeless Here!”

It was a simple act of civil disobedience, meant to draw attention to Atlanta’s lack of housing for the homeless, that turned into a 16-day occupation launching a decades-long movement in Georgia’s capital city.

“Atlanta was razing buildings for sports stadiums and parking lots. Funding was going for glamorous projects instead of affordable housing,” said Terry Easton, author of the new book Raising Our Voices, Breaking the Chain, which chronicles the events surrounding the Imperial Hotel occupation that began on June 18, 1990. “This group, we call them the ‘Imperial Eight,’ they were trying to bring attention to this.”

The eight activists were from a group called People for Urban Justice (PUJ). It was part of a larger organization called Open Door Community, which provided services for the poor and homeless in Atlanta.

“They were trying to bring attention to the lack of affordable housing in Atlanta,” Easton said. “At the time there were an estimated 10,000 homeless people in the city.”

The Imperial Eight broke in to the then-abandoned century-old Imperial Hotel and hung their banner from two of the building’s highest windows in an attempt to draw attention from the media and the mayor’s office.

Today, now known at National Church Residences Commons at Imperial Hotel, the building is a permanent supportive housing site that provides housing for 90 formerly homeless residents of Atlanta.

“I think it’s really wonderful that out of this act of courage and bravery, for these folks to go in and occupy the hotel and actually get something out of it, it’s wonderful,” said Easton. “I think it’s a good lesson for people that sometimes it’s worth the cost.”

To celebrate the release of Raising Our Voices, Breaking the Chain, Easton and two members of the Imperial Eight, Eduard Loring and Murphy Davis, will make an appearance at Commons at Imperial Hotel on Saturday, December 10 from noon to 2 p.m. for a book signing, stories about the occupation and a tour of the beautifully renovated facility.

“(The book) is an authentic, powerful, moving retelling of an epic time in the history of Atlanta when the issue of homelessness was taken to another level because homeless activists and advocates said, ‘enough is enough,’ and occupied the Imperial Hotel,” said Rev. Timothy McDonald III, Pastor at the First Iconium Baptist Church in Atlanta. “This occupation caused the city fathers and business community to rethink how it addressed the issue of homelessness, and, if only for a season, housing the homeless and affordable housing was on the lips of the powerful.”

By the end of the 16-day occupation nearly 300 homeless people had entered the vacant building alongside the activists, and Open Door Community had moved its morning breakfast service inside the hotel.

“Once they were all inside the activists were very clear that they wanted the homeless people to have a voice. The homeless people formed a leadership group and they called themselves the Executive Committee,” Easton said. “They’re the ones that went to the negotiating table at the end of the occupation and negotiated with the City of Atlanta.”

Mayor Maynard Jackson met with the Executive Committee and the members of PUJ to discuss what needed to be done to help the homeless in the community.

“It really forced the mayor and his staff to do something about it,” said Easton. “What PUJ wanted was 5,000 promised units of affordable housing. By the time it ended it was 3,500 that was promised. We’re still not up to that number today. It’s been a slow process, but there has been affordable housing created that has come directly from this. You don’t always get what you want, but something is better than nothing.”

Easton will have copies of his book available for purchase at the Imperial Hotel event Saturday in Atlanta. Those who wish to purchase the book elsewhere can do so for a $10 donation by contacting Easton at Terry.Easton@ung.edu.

Easton is an Associate Professor of English at the University of North Georgia. He was not a member of the Imperial Eight, but was contacted by PUJ document the history of the event.

National Church Residences currently offers more than 1,200 units of affordable senior housing and permanent supportive housing in the Atlanta metro area.

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Terry Easton, author of Raising Our Voices, Breaking the Chain

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National Church Residences Commons at Imperial Hotel today.

‘Home for Life’ to expand and serve Columbus’ Near East Side

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Christine Leyshon, National Church Residences Community Program Manager, and Rosemary Mathes, National Church Residences Service Coordinator, will be part of the team that will bring Home for Life to Columbus’ Near East Side seniors.

COLUMBUS, Ohio ­– The Osteopathic Heritage Foundation has awarded a Healthy Aging Initiative grant in the amount of $254,209 to National Church Residences to help the organization expand the Home for Life program to residents of Columbus’ Near East Side.

“The project is a combination of strategies,” said Jeff Wolf, National Church Residences Senior Vice President of Philanthropy and Mission Impact. “It expands the reach of our Home for Life model to seniors who live outside of our affordable housing properties, while the model itself is an innovation designed to help seniors in the community age in place.”

The Healthy Aging Initiative grant, administered over a two-year span, will touch the lives of nearly 700 at-risk Franklin County seniors. According to Wolf, “The grant is significant beyond its financial investment. A partnership with the Osteopathic Heritage Foundation provides an opportunity to launch innovative solutions that encourage community collaboration and the development of replicable programming.”

“The Osteopathic Heritage Foundation is proud to partner with National Church Residences to share the Home for Life program with residents of Columbus’ Near East Side,” said Susan Beaudry, Director of Programs at the Osteopathic Heritage Foundation. “This innovative program has great potential to provide older, vulnerable adults with the care and support needed to remain in their homes and communities of their choice.”

National Church Residences’ Home for Life program is an outcomes-focused service model, using evidence-based assessments and evaluation tools to identify an individual’s needs and risk factors. By engaging those we serve where they live, Home for Life can identify and overcome social determinant factors that impact an individual’s ability to best manage their chronic diseases, leading to higher satisfaction and engagement, better health and cost savings.

“The objective is to improve access to care and self-management skills of older vulnerable populations by giving them the tools to understand and manage their own care, allowing them to remain in their homes as they age,” said Wolf.

This program will bring the Home for Life model to seniors on Columbus’ Near East Side who do not reside in a National Church Residences facility. The focus is on an area that surrounds the Champion Intergenerational Enrichment and Education Center, at 240 N. Champion Ave.

Bringing home the gold at First Community Village

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Char Christensen

By LANCE CRANMER                                                                lcranmer@nationalchurchresidences.org

UPPER ARLINGTON, Ohio – Char Christensen has been to three World Gymnastics Championships, two Pan-Am Games and was in attendance in 1996 when the United States’ women brought home the first-ever team Olympic gold medal in Atlanta.

“I guess you’d say I have a passion,” Christensen joked. “And a full-time job.”

During the week, Christensen is the health care Activities Director at National Church Residences’ First Community Village. In her free time – especially in gymnastics’ busy season from December to April – Christensen is traveling around the country as a highly-renowned judge in the sport she has been involved with since her youth.

“I currently am a national and USA brevet gymnastics judge,” she said, noting that she has officiated at high school, regional, national and NCAA competitions. “I’ve been at that level for 30 years.”

Christensen’s impact on the sport, though made behind the scenes, is on a national scale.

“I am the Region 5 women’s technical chair,” she said. “Which means I sit on a national committee that makes rule changes. It’s a volunteer position that I’ve held for 25 years.”

When the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics begin this week, Christensen will have even had a hand in selecting the members of the US women’s team. Last month at the Olympic trials in San Jose, Christensen served an auxiliary judge for the balance beam event.

“I have a passion for the sport,” she said. “I was a gymnast. My daughter, Katie, went to Minnesota on a full scholarship for gymnastics. I’m a coach, and an official. I guess you could say I’ve experienced it at all levels.”

At First Community Village, Christensen brings her passion for gymnastics to her residents to help them experience the games.

“There’s a huge sports interest here,” she said. “Every four years we do a torch passing ceremony here. It is a resident with a staff member and we go across the building passing the torch off as an opening ceremony.”

As Activities Director, it is Christensen’s job to keep her residents active.

“During the Olympics we do our version of the Olympic Games,” she said. “We do things like tossing balls through the Olympic rings. Residents really enjoy it. We tie in what’s happening with our community. We are bringing the games to them.”

Christensen has been working with the residents at First Community Village for 15 years.

“I love my job. My goal is to stimulate the residents and involve them physically, mentally, socially and spiritually in our world,” she said. “It is very rewarding. You feel like you make a difference in the residents’ lives on a daily basis.”

Though she isn’t a competitive athlete anymore, Christensen said there are still many aspects from her life as a gymnast that influence her daily life today.

“The physical things we do go by the wayside,” she said. “But it is the processes that carry on. It takes hard work and discipline and teaches you how to both succeed and fail in life. It’s about working with a team and following a structure. It’s important to transfer on that value of hard work to your daily living.”

Detroit properties unite to collect water for Flint families in need

 

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Members of the National Church Residences’ Detroit portfolio of properties united to donate and deliver 726 cases of clean water to the people of Flint, Michigan

By LANCE CRANMER                                                              lcranmer@nationalchurchresidences.org

DETROIT – The first time Makeda Hunt drove a truck loaded with bottled water to Catholic Charities of Flint/Owosso to help the families suffering from the Flint Water Crisis, she witnessed an incredible sight.

“When we were unloading the van, a line of cars was coming up just waiting for water,” said Makeda, the Regional Manager who oversees National Church Residences’ Detroit portfolio. “I really saw the need.”

For that first trip to Flint last April, employees and residents of Wayne Tower (in Wayne, MI) collected about 100 cases of water.

After what she saw there, however, Makeda decided to pool all of her Detroit-area resources together and make an effort on a larger scale.

“I knew our regional conference was coming up in May and I would have all of my managers there together,” she said. “It was the perfect opportunity to put the challenge on the table.”

Makeda tasked her team with the goal of collecting as much bottled water, sanitary wipes and bottles of hand sanitizer as possible to help aid with the Flint Water Crisis.

“They exceeded my expectations,” Makeda said. “I was thinking I would have about 500 cases.”

Over a two day span on June 30 and July 1, Makeda went site-to-site collecting donated water from 15 National Church Residences properties.

“It resulted in a total collection of 726 cases of water,” she said. “Enough to fill up a 20-foot U-Haul truck.”

Makeda took the truck (that she personally paid to rent), along with five cars full of volunteers from various National Church Residences sites, to Flint on July 1 to make the donation – just in time for the Fourth of July weekend.

“I am beyond impressed with the amount of cases of water that we were able to collect and have donated to the residents of Flint,” said Sonya Brown, National Church Residences Regional Vice President, whose region includes the Detroit properties. “This exemplifies true teamwork between our staff and our residents, as well as each (of our employees) commitment to our mission.”

The Flint Water Crisis began in late 2014 when the drinking water supply to Flint, Michigan, was switched over from Detroit’s public water system to polluted water from the Flint River.

In the immediate aftermath of the crisis, donations poured in from around the country. But when the Flint Water Crisis stopped being a national headline, donations of clean drinking water began to dwindle.

“While we were there I had an opportunity to talk to one of the directors from Catholic Charities,” Makeda said. There was a semi-truck that they would store the water in when people would make the deliveries. At the time they were down to their last few pallets.”

According to the staff at Catholic Charities, the water donated by National Church Residences employees and residents was enough to provide clean water to 181 Flint families – each is allowed to take a max of four cases per visit.

“I was very impressed with Solberg Tower, who collected 160 cases, and Madison Manor, being our newest addition to the portfolio, who collected 100 cases,” Makeda said. “We have a lot of residents that are low income and financially strapped, but even the ones who couldn’t get out to get water to donate brought money to their managers that we used to go buy water.”

Makeda was proud of the effort her team put in to collect the water, but added that the water crisis in Flint is still ongoing.

“It’s nowhere near over,” she said. “What I found out on my last visit was that families that had newer plumbing, they were able to install water filters. Those that have the filters in their homes now have adequate water. For the homes that are still not up to date, those are the families that suffer the most and need the most water. They still can’t utilize the city water.”

The National Church Residences Detroit team would like to organize one more water drive before winter. Anyone interested in making a donation can contact Makeda Hunt at mhunt@nationalchurchresidences.org.

Properties that contributed to the water drive included: Lakeside Towers, Lakeside Villa, Meadow Creek Village, Clinton Place Apartments, Canton Place, Clark East Tower, Columbia Court, Romulus Tower, Solberg Tower, Madison Tower, Madison Manor, Wayne Tower, Park Place of Harper Woods, Eden Manor, and Evangelical Manor.

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A pallet of water donated by National Church Residences to the residents of Flint, Michigan.

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Members of the National Church Residences Detroit Team filled a 20-foot U-haul truck with donated water for Flint, Michigan.

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The 20-foot truck was packed to the top with donated water — 726 cases!

Seniors give warm donations to National Church Residences hospice patients

 

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Clients at National Church Residences Center for Senior Health on Livingston Avenue in Columbus work on knitting hats and shawls for hospice patients.

By LANCE CRANMER                                                              lcranmer@nationalchurchresidences.org

COLUMBUS – Margaret could quickly crochet hats. Barbara spent her free time making shawls.

Before long, their passion and skill with needles and thread began to spread around the National Church Residences Center for Senior Health on Livingston Avenue.

“It was one winter when we had all the clients together in one room. One lady did hats. One did blankets,” said DeVonne Tucker, a volunteer at in the Center for Senior Health’s Adult Day program. “I knew how to crochet, so some of the things that these two ladies were doing I learned.”

Eventually, several other clients joined in and the casual knitting group became an every-Thursday activity.

Roughly 18 months later, the small-but-dedicated group of seniors pooled together all of the items they made and donated them to be given as gifts to National Church Residences hospice patients.

“This was really unique for the folks at our Adult Day centers to share their time and talents in such a lovely way to brighten someone else’s day,” said Deana Thatcher, National Church Residences Hospice Director. “When someone is in hospice care, anything that can brighten their day is so wonderful. Hospice is based around improving the quality of life for our patients. When they get a gift they weren’t expecting, it brightens their day. And it brightens the day of those who care for them just to see them happy.”

For many years now the seniors at Center for Senior Health Livingston have found ways to participate in charitable programs to benefit their community.

“We started this huge civic engagement program here,” said Terri Napletana, the Site Manager at CSHL. “We let clients pick out organizations they want to donate to. Then we do fundraisers.”

At first they assembled care packages to give to the formerly homeless and disabled military veterans who were moving in next door at National Church Residences Commons at Livingston. Later they raised money to purchase winter coats for the children at a nearby church.

Then came the idea of crocheting hats and blankets.

“My sister was going through chemotherapy and someone gave her a shawl to use while she was getting her treatments,” Terri said. “She said it was a lifesaver.”

DeVonne and Terri organized the group that met every week to make the hats and blankets.

“Some people couldn’t crochet, so DeVonne came up with little dogs that people could make,” Terri said. “In the beginning we would sell the dogs to get money to buy more yarn.”

After a year-and-a-half of work, on June 2 the group donated 11 sets of hats and shawls, eight adult hats, three children’s hats and two lap blankets to the National Church Residences hospice team with a small ceremony at the Livingston center.

“The whole idea of the civic engagement is there,” Terri said. “We want to give back. They love to give back.”

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Michelle Barnhart, Volunteer Coordinator, DeVonne Tucker, volunteer, and Deana Thatcher, Hospice Director, show off some of the items Center for Senior Health clients donated to National Church Residences hospice patients.

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