CHHSM’s Nollau To You Helps Brewster Place Staff Nurture Serving Leaders

Brewster Place’s management team shares a moment of levity during Nollau To You.

For UCC-related Brewster Place, an older adult life plan community in Topeka, Kan., CHHSM’s Nollau To You one-day serving leader seminars are gifts that keep giving. In fact, the staff who have participated like the event so much that Joe Ewert, Brewster’s president and CEO, keeps asking the faculty back for more.

The most recent Nollau To You seminar at Brewster Place was held Oct. 18. “The first session [in 2018] was a big hit with our team leaders,” says Ewert, “so we decided to bring [Nollau To You] back this year. We are looking forward to having them come out again next year as well.”

Nollau To You is geared toward corporate staff, supervisors, board members, and other CHHSM member employees. Nollau faculty members teach the concepts of faith-based serving leadership to participants, who then take their experiences back to their workplace and model that leadership style in their interactions with colleagues and coworkers. The day is filled with dialogue, small group conversations and reflective writing.

Each Nollau To You session is specifically tailored to the CHHSM member agency and its needs, using an organization’s existing mission and values statements, guiding principles, and vision plans to shape the day’s activities.

“The trainings are very dense and cover a wide array of content,” says Ewert. “This year, the main topics were coaching for success, strength-based approaches to developing team members, spirituality in work, and sabbath.”

Michael J. Readinger, CHHSM president and CEO, helps participants brainstorm.

Lea Chaffee, Brewster Place’s vice president of operations, says that one of the biggest benefits of Nollau To You seminars is the way the sessions “emphasize our mission in a way that captures not only our service to the residents, but our service to each other,” adding that it “impacts each and every person at Brewster Place.”

Both Ewert and Chaffee say that the biggest impact from this year’s session came from the “coaching for success” portion of the day, noting a lot of follow-up conversations the week after the seminar. “The team also really had an ‘a-ha’ moment with the discussion about strengths” and being able to identify and capitalize on one’s strengths, Chaffee adds.

Chaffee cites a conversation with a staff member following the training, who said, “This was perfect timing. I was a little apprehensive to have a conversation with a team member, but now I feel confident that I can have that conversation in a way that will honor and lift up the team member.”

Ewert finds the concepts so integral to Brewster Place that as a follow up, he is working back through the key concepts from Nollau To You with the management team during its bi-weekly meetings. These additional sessions help the team unpack and focus on what they learned, he says.

During the seminar, participants struggled with and discussed the importance of integrating sabbath in the life of the organization and its staff, especially with “the realities of being responsible for life-critical operations 24/7,” says Ewert.

Nollau To You uses a variety of activities to engage participants and teach concepts of faith-based serving leadership.

Michael J. Readinger, CHHSM president and CEO and a Nollau faculty member, says he appreciated the frank conversations on the need for — and difficulties in finding time for — sabbath time. “Sabbath is a complicated issue that needs to be incorporated into our work life,” he says.

Ewert says one of the biggest advantages of Nollau to You is just the presence of CHHSM at Brewster Place. “Having CHHSM in provides an excellent moment to share, learn and affirm our roots as a church-sponsored organization,” he says. “Going through this process helps many of our folks understand where our guiding principles came from, and why we hold so tight to them.”

CHHSM staff member the Rev. Elyse Berry experienced her first Nollau To You at Brewster Place. Berry is the newest CHHSM member and is part of the planning and teaching Nollau faculty. “I feel so grateful that my first Nollau To You event was with Brewster Place,” Berry says. “They are such a welcoming, warm, and fun group of people who clearly care about their work and their co-workers. It was exciting to see them engage with the material we presented and have it come alive in their ‘table-top’ discussions. I look forward to doing more sessions with them in the future.”

Readinger adds that bringing Nollau To You back to Brewster Place serves as a reminder of the benefits of such a seminar, even for organizations that already have a strong serving leadership approach.

“Even the highest functioning teams covet learning new techniques for engagement on a regular basis,” Readinger says. “Kudos to organizations that are highly developed and strengths based — they truly value the ongoing process of providing enhanced opportunities for their staff to take a day-long retreat to hone their skills.”

Learn more about the Nollau To You seminar series.

Contact CHHSM to bring Nollau To You to your organization.

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