At UCC’s Embrace Living Communities, it’s All About Living Life to the Fullest

At United Church of Christ-related Embrace Living Communities, headquartered in Oak Brook, Ill., the most important thing to its faith-based housing communities that serve older adults and adults with physical challenges is helping residents continue to live rich, rewarding lives. And one of the ways Embrace Living does that is through its Service Coordinator Program.

The program consists of dedicated social service personnel who provide information and referrals to residents and their families about supportive services that help the residents maintain independence and remain at home as long as possible.

“The importance of our Social Service Coordinator Program is seen when looking at what our coordinators do for our residents,” says Susan A. Sinderson, executive vice president. “They link residents with the community services that can help them live the best life possible.”

Such services include connections to community-based organizations that provide transportation, financial assistance, and spiritual and social services that assist the residents in maintaining as active of a life as possible.

The attention to these details “empowers residents by giving them the tools to manage their own lives on their own terms,” Sinderson says.

Produce is arranged prior to opening to residents.

This is particularly important because the average resident in Embrace Living Communities, Sinderson notes, after paying rent and prescriptions, has about $97 a week to buy food, clothes and all the other basic necessities of daily living.

“Our service coordinators help residents find ways to stretch their available dollars,” she says.

In addition to the expected list of services — health-related services like various screenings, substance abuse referrals, therapy, adult day care and medical equipment procurement assistance, among others — the service coordinators also provide quality of life connections. They help arrange for on-site bookmobile libraries, workshops on such topics as fire safety, financial education opportunities, and such community activities as birthday celebrations, movie days, exercise classes, gardening programs, games, and arts events.

Shopping begins for residents.

One of the biggest hits among residences is local food programs and fresh vegetable markets arranged by the coordinators.

“Our service coordinators have been instrumental in not only linking our communities with local food programs that regularly bring in fresh vegetables and fruits that are available free to our residents, but also finding donations to fund freezers for the housing communities so that we can take part in local free meat programs as well,” Sinderson says.

Sinderson tells the story of one coordinator who arranged for a local community college to come in and teach a series of healthy shopping and cooking classes.

“A fun part of the class was that participants were given free blenders and participated in learning to make smoothies from the fresh vegetables they received at one of the free food days,” she says.

But above and beyond the services, the coordinators are instrumental in helping residents “make connections with people, encouraging them to volunteer to help others,” Sinderson says. The service coordinators “assist residents and their families in finding ways to embrace the life they have, stay connected to one another, and understand each other as they actively age.”

All people are welcome to Embrace Living communities, and the communities celebrate each life journey. As part of its faith-based commitment, Embrace Living Communities are proud members of the Council for Health and Human Service Ministries (CHHSM), an association of health and human service organizations and programs recognized as an expression of the ministry and mission of the United Church of Christ.

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