When EHM Senior Solutions, a CHHSM-member ministry based in Saline, Mich., wanted to find a way to make sure the community knew about its services, board member Earl Roehm new just what to do.
Roehm, a strong supporter of EHM within his local church, “approached EHM with the idea that EHM could benefit from having ambassadors within local churches who could be liaisons between EHM and the congregations,” says Roger A. Meiller, director of religious services and church relations. “Thus, the Church Ambassador Program was born.”
The ecumenical program, begun a little more than 10 years ago, relies on members of area local churches, who volunteer their time and talents. Ambassador responsibilities include attending periodic meetings and/or training sessions and staying knowledgeable about and able to articulate EHM’s plans, needs and services. Additionally, the local churches agree to be recognized as EHM Senior Solutions partners.
The program “works to build relationships with the churches that will help members know their options on issues related to senior housing, healthcare, and the mission of EHM,” says Meiller. In addition to providing information about services, EHM also provides the ambassadors with information about EHM’s need for support, as well as its philanthropic efforts.
Currently, the program has 20 ambassadors, of which 16 represent UCC congregations, Meiller says. “But ambassadors are also representing Lutheran, Catholic, and Methodist churches.”
Additionally, many of the Church Ambassador congregations financially support EHM. Through recent EHM capital campaigns, the partner churches helped raise funds to support the construction and naming of chapel spaces in EHM’s Memory Support Center and its Redies Center for Rehabilitation and Health Living.
St. Paul UCC in Saline enjoys hearing about EHM’s connection with the church, says Ambassador Rose Carol Toth. “After my Church Ambassador reports, positive interactions evolve,” she says. “Our church community feels more closely involved. It is a joy being a part of this liaison.”
In additional to the ambassador program, EHM is looking for other ways to connect with the community. For example, before flu shots were readily available, EHM provided flu clinics at participating churches. It currently is exploring new outreach options.
But the Church Ambassador program remains a success with the participating congregations. Bob Bykowski, a member of St. Andrew Catholic Church in Saline, chose to represent the parish “because of my involvement with many seniors who are downsizing … but want to remain in Saline,” he says. “The EHM programs serve the needs of people — from independent living to memory care services. All levels of EHM staff that I meet are always warm, friendly and responsive to the needs of the residents.”