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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Permanent Supportive Housing to experience transition, growth in 2017

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An architect rendering of the Commons at South Cumminsville, a National Church Residences Permanent Supportive Housing community that will break ground in Cincinnati later this year.

By LANCE CRANMER                                                               lcranmer@nationalchurchresidences.org

National Church Residences’ Permanent Supportive Housing portfolio is set to experience both transition and growth in 2017.

With the retirement of Dave Kayuha, the organization’s longtime Chief Administrative Officer who has overseen PSH since its inception in 2003, a plan was put in place to transition the portfolio into Affordable Housing under the direction of Steve Bodkin.

“I’m proud to be part of Permanent Supportive Housing, a mission that serves such a critically vulnerable population,” said Steve, who is the Chief Operating Officer of National Church Residences Housing Division. “I look forward to working with this dedicated, talented, and caring staff to continue driving mission impact.”

Since the Commons at Grant became National Church Residences’ first Permanent Supportive Housing community, the portfolio has expanded to nine PSH communities with a total of 885 units in Columbus, Toledo and Atlanta.

In 2017 the program will expand yet again when Cincinnati’s Commons at South Cumminsville breaks ground.

“Commons at South Cumminsville is the result of a long history of National Church Residences trying to build Permanent Supportive Housing in Cincinnati. It dates back to 2008,” said Amy Rosenthal, National Church Residences Senior Project Leader. “We’ve had our struggles and hiccups, but now we have a home in a community that has welcomed us.”

Commons at South Cumminsville will house 80 PSH units in a building located on Herron Avenue in the northern Cincinnati neighborhood.

“We have a non-profit, Working in Neighborhoods, that has been a great help to us,” Amy said. “Now we have this welcoming community that sees the need for supportive housing in Cincinnati and see that this project will put a positive spotlight on their community, too. They really understand how our supportive housing communities change people’s lives.”

The $15 million new construction project is expected to break ground sometime in late 2017.

National Church Residences’ Dallas keeping people mobile – and laughing

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National Church Residences Transportation Manager Judy Dallas performs stand-up comedy at the Columbus Funny Bone comedy club.

By LANCE CRANMER                                                               lcranmer@nationalchurchresidences.org

COLUMBUS — Whether it’s driving a Greyhound bus or coordinating a fleet of busses to transport seniors, Judy Dallas knows that some things are universal.

“In transportation it’s all the same,” she said. “It’s people. They have to trust you. It’s different and it’s the same.”

Years back when Judy drove a Greyhound for a living, she made frequent short trips that kept her relatively close to her home and her daughter.

“You can only drive for 10 hours. I could get as far as 10 hours would take me,” she said. “Columbus to St. Louis and then go to bed. Tennessee, Chicago, Pittsburgh. I really stayed Midwest. I had a child at home.”

Today, with her daughter grown up (and also a National Church Residences employee), Judy said that it would be a different story.

“I’d be going to California, Florida, anywhere!” she said. “Once you get to a place you can just hang out there and make your way back home. But then there’s the whole thing of living out of a suitcase, literally.”

To make a little bit of extra money back in those days, Judy worked nights as a stand-up comedienne.

“I used to do comedy in the 90s with people like Sinbad and Cedric the Entertainer. We were just doing local clubs,” she said. “I was just a single parent doing it for the extra money. They wanted me to go on the road with them, but I had to stay home and be responsible.”

Eventually Judy owned her own transportation business. But when it fell on hard times she came to work for National Church Residences.

Judy initially joined the organization to drive one of the busses that serve the clients of National Church Residences Center for Senior Health.

Today, as the Transportation Manager, she is driving the efforts of the whole transportation department as it moves toward expanding its services to a wider group.

“We are now fundraising,” Judy said.

Beginning in the New Year, the transportation team in central Ohio will start fundraising with the goal of amassing $10,000 to go toward providing more transportation options for seniors.

“We want to be able to provide transportation to, not only our buildings, although they will be the main recipients, but to other apartments as well,” Judy said. “We will be doing different types of fundraising. Our drivers will be doing payroll deductions. We want to do a (fundraiser) later in the year. We have some vendors and corporate sponsors that will help.”

Judy estimated that a trip using a bus that holds 14 people costs around $170 each way.

“They send us a request and they can use the funds from our foundation to provide transportation for that group,” she said. “If a building wants to do more transportation, they can hold a fundraiser. If they can raise at least $100, we will match it and provide the transportation.”

Donations to help fund the transportation services can be sent to the attention of Van Ambrose, Vice President of National Church Residences Foundations, at the home office with the specification that it is for “CSH Transportation.”

Judy said that in Columbus and Franklin County, National Church Residences currently has the area’s largest transportation fleet – next to COTA (Central Ohio Transit Authority).

“Currently we have 30 vehicles,” she said. “We’ve always had more, but some of them were older. We had to retire faster than we could acquire. But we have 23 busses right now along with seven other vehicles. And one-third of our fleet runs on propane, which makes us certified as a ‘Green Fleet.’”

Where the larger busses get about 8 mpg, Judy said that some of the newer, smaller, vehicles get as many as 22 mpg.

“We have a diversified fleet and we’ve gone with more economical vehicles,” she said.

Having as large of an impact on transportation needs as National Church Residences does, Judy joined forces with the Ohio Transportation Equity Coalition in December to ask Ohio Governor John Kasich, “to increase Ohio’s investment in accessible, affordable and sustainable transportation options.”

In the letter sent to the Governor’s office, it is highlighted that Ohio currently ranks 47th nationally in its commitment to public transportation and cites a study from the Ohio Department of Transportation that said Ohio needs $192.4 million in capital and $96.7 million in operating funds to meet existing needs.

“We’re part of a movement and trying to make a difference in the state of Ohio,” Judy said.

A little more than a year ago, Judy returned to the stand-up comedy stage as well – this time as a gospel comedienne who tells clean jokes only.

“I had lost my business and my home and my fiancée died. I turned to my faith,” she said. “God spoke to me. I wanted to teach Sunday school or something. God spoke to me and said to go back to stand-up comedy. I was like, no, this isn’t funny.”

Over the past few months Judy has been booked to perform  around 15 shows – including at the Columbus Funny Bone – and she’s done it all without trying to promote herself.

“It’s all been word of mouth,” she said. “I like to say that God is my promoter.”

First Community Village offers residents a personal path to wellness

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Jackie Metro, Director of Wellness at First Community Village, teaches a tai chi class for residents in December.

By LANCE CRANMER                                                               lcranmer@nationalchurchresidences.org

COLUMBUS – When Dale and Glinna Fretwell arrived at First Community Village in September 2014, Dale was in bad shape.

“He got a blood infection in Florida,” Glinna recalled. “He was in bed for so long, he just lost his muscle strength. When he left the hospital we went to a rehab center. We were just very unhappy there.”

Natives of Virginia, the Fretwells had retired to Florida many years before. But now, with Dale’s illness, the difficulty of being on their own – and in a facility that did not meet their needs – made life particularly hard.

One of their daughters suggested that they consider moving into a community closer to where she lived in Columbus.

“There were four or five places that she visited,” Glinna said. “She has two little boys that came with her and she would ask them what they thought of each place. They told her First Community Village was their favorite. She asked them why. They said because they had candy at the front desk. It’s the little things that are important.”

In addition to the candy, First Community Village had the support services the facility in Florida was lacking.

“We put (Dale) on a plane in Tampa and we brought him straight here,” Glinna said, sitting just outside the physical therapy rooms at First Community Village. “The difference here is night and day. We hadn’t been here 30 minutes when a physical therapist came in and gave him an evaluation.”

“We offer a wellness assessment and we look at each new member holistically and determine their individual needs,” said Jackie Metro, the Director of Wellness at First Community Village. “We work specifically on whatever their needs for improvement are and work to get them to their optimal level of fitness.”

Dale spent about three months in physical therapy before he was able to get back on his feet and move into the manor home the Fretwells purchased.

“This place practically saved my husband’s life,” Glinna said. “He is so thankful for the good healthcare that we have had here.”

First Community Village has always had a wellness program, but in early 2016 National Church Residences enhanced what it had to offer.

“We expanded the program,” said Sarah Dalton Ortlieb, National Church Residences Vice President of Rehab Services. “We wanted to do wellness from all the domains, not just physical, but intellectual, emotional, social, spiritual, occupational and environmental. We wanted to have more comprehensive wellness opportunities for the residents there.”

“I am able to tailor their care and make it appropriate to what they need,” Jackie said. “I like to think of it as a nice cycle. There is always a place for each resident.”

For residents who need the most care there is physical therapy. For those who need less, there are group exercise classes and activities.

“You can go from physical therapy and graduate into a group exercise,” Jackie said.

Between five-to-eight classes are offered each weekday at First Community Village, ranging from aqua aerobics in the pool, balance classes, tai chi, yoga, dance, range of motion classes and classes specifically for those with Parkinson’s disease.

“We are regulars at the gym. We use it three days a week,” said Glinna. “And we love the pool. We use it three days a week. It has kept us walking, literally. My husband has had both knees replaces and I had knee surgery, too.”

Jackie said that since the expanded services became available, she has seen a 45 percent increase in the number of physical therapy visits and a 35 percent boost in the number of participants who come to the fitness center.

“We love it here,” Glinna said. “They care for you and go out of their way to make sure you are as comfortable as you can get.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Navy veteran recalls the second tragedy at Pearl Harbor

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Paul Greenwell, a Navy veteran, who lives at National Church Residences Lincoln Village in Columbus.

By LANCE CRANMER                                                                   lcranmer@nationalchurchresidences.org

COLUMBUS – Paul Greenwell has no shortage of stories about his time in the Navy.

Diving in Connecticut’s Thames River wearing a homemade helmet constructed out of a five-gallon bucket … time spent on Midway Island in the Pacific watching the rising tide swallow up half of the base airport’s runway for a few hours each day … making a 320-foot dive while in deep sea diving school in Washington D.C. … and so many more.

But it’s the one that almost no one knows about that really brings out the passion in his voice.

“I’ll tell you something that is not in history books,” Greenwell said with a knowing grin as he sat in the community room at National Church Residences Lincoln Village on the west side of Columbus, Ohio. “May 21, 1944 was the second tragedy of Pearl Harbor.”

Known today as the “West Loch disaster,” the incident was kept a classified secret by the United States government for nearly two decades. Details of the disaster were released in 1960, but by then, enough time had passed that it failed to draw much public attention.

“There were 10 LSTs (Landing Ship Tank) loading ammunition at night, at dusk,” Greenwell said.

Although the government never announced an official cause, it is believed that the initial explosion happened when a mortar round on LST-353 detonated during an unloading operation.

The explosion rocked several of the ships, which were being packed with ammunitions in advance of an upcoming mission. Fire quickly spread from ship-to-ship as Sailors and Marines scrambled to get to safety.

“When I got there they were just raising (LST-480),” Greenwell said. “They sent us in, about 12 to 14 divers. We welded patches onto the ship to try and make it water tight.”

As a 2nd Class Diver, Greenwell had extensive experience diving to patch ships that had been damaged.

“One of my jobs was to crawl inside the torpedo tube and slide down inside it to see if there were any nicks,” he said.

This time, the situation was far more dire.

“(Many) lives were lost when those ships went down,” he said. “They were swimming through the burning oil on top of the water.”

As Greenwell and his fellow divers worked frantically to repair the sinking LST 480, he remembers the moment that changed everything.

“I was using a cutting torch on the bulkhead of the ship. I cut into an oil line,” he said. “The two didn’t mix. It exploded.”

Greenwell said a buddy of his was coming out of one of the ship’s hatches with his arms up in the air when the explosion happened.

“He wound up on the tank deck,” he said. “I blew up about 50 foot through the water. I was bleeding bad.”

An injured Greenwell made his way to safety and was examined by a doctor.

“The doctor said I had a slight concussion and I had a perforated ear drum,” he said. “The doctor said I’d get a Purple Heart. I never did get that. It’s OK. I didn’t want one.”

Officially it is said that 163 naval personnel died that day. Other sources have estimated the overall death total to be as high as 392 with an additional 400 wounded – including Greenwell.

A little more than a year later – the day before Thanksgiving 1945, in fact – Greenwell’s three-year Navy career was over and he returned to his job as a lake patrol officer on Illinois’ Lake Decatur before moving on to a bigger career.

“I worked for the federal government for 28 years as an industrial engineer,” he said.

He spent 22 years in active ministry as a pastor and finally became a counsellor at Reynoldsburg High School near Columbus before retiring to Lincoln Village.

“I always wanted to be a diver,” he said, looking back on his military career. “I weighed 119 pounds and the suit weighed 190.”

During his time in the Navy, Greenwell said that he “worked on every submarine in the Pacific fleet.”

Years after his retirement, he toured a decommissioned sub that was on display in Alabama.

“When I was in Mobile on that sub, they had pictures of the old crew members on display,” he said. “I recognized some of the faces.”

A Lifetime of Service to our Country

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Jerry Bullock, a Marine Corps veteran, at home at National Church Residences Lincoln Village in Columbus.

By LANCE CRANMER                                                                lcranmer@nationalchurchresidences.org

COLUMBUS – Really, the only people out there who can poke fun at a Marine and get away with it are other Marines.

Jerry Bullock, a resident at National Church Residences Lincoln Village, joined the Marine Corps in 1962 when he and two friends decided to sign up together.

“Me and a couple of other guys at Marion-Franklin High School went in on the buddy system,” Bullock said. “We went to boot camp together, but we were never in the same Quonset hut.”

Bullock excelled as a Marine and began training in Advanced Infantry. It was the location of the boot camp, however, that got them their nickname.

“We went to boot camp in San Diego, California,” he said. “They called everybody who went to San Diego a ‘Hollywood Marine.’”

While he may have jokingly been ‘Hollywood’ at first, Bullock proudly served his country as a Marine, and later a member of the Navy and the National Guard, before a post-military career in civil service.

The memories of his long career?

“I wouldn’t trade them,” Bullock said.

His military experience truly began when after boot camp he was stationed in the Pacific.

“I went to Hawaii where I went into the weapons platoon,” he said. “Anti-tank assaultman. We trained and learned to fire the 3.5 inch, well, they call them bazookas now.”

Essentially a small rocket launcher, Bullock recalls the aftermath of repeatedly firing the weapons.

“I didn’t care for shooting them,” he said. “Wires would hit you in the face after they fired. You’d spend days picking those wires out of your face.”

Bullock spent two years in Hawaii – which was considered overseas duty at the time, even though Hawaii was a state. He followed up his time there for a brief training in Okinawa, Japan, before rotating back to the United States mainland.

“I ended up being an MP (Military Police) at Beaufort Marine Corps Air Station,” he said. “I was a Desk Sergeant in the Military Police.”

Bullock became part of the team that raised and lowered the flag every morning and night and also assisted other Marines with keeping their military IDs up to date. And then there were also the regular duties that came along with being an MP.

“You had to go to the enlisted club where the guys would get rowdy,” he said. “Have to go and keep them from breaking stuff up.”

With his four years of active duty coming to an end, Bullock was transferred back to southern California and Camp Pendleton.

“They wanted to send me to Vietnam,” he said. “But I only had seven months left to serve, so they kept me at Pendleton.”

There he was tasked with helping train Marines to swim while wearing their full equipment.

“It was to simulate abandoning a ship,” he said, adding that he had to act as a lifeguard on more than one occasion when soldiers struggled to stay afloat. “Lots of them. We let them take a little water first. If you don’t, they’ll grab onto you and drown you.”

Bullock was discharged in October 1966 and served two years of inactive duty before joining the Ohio National Guard and then the Navy for a year.

“When I came home I got a job in construction building the new post office here in Columbus,” he said. “With the weather the way it was and construction, I was only working about two days a week. So I took the post office exam and I passed in both Columbus and Grove City.”

Bullock accepted the position with the Columbus Post Office, where he would spend the next decade.

“I carried mail for 11 years until I injured my knee slipping on the ice. So I got disability from the post office. While I was in the Marines, with all the shooting we did, I lost hearing in my ears. So I get a pension from both the post office and the VA.”