Embrace Living Launches Fund for Resident Health and Wellness Programs

Ralph Gaines, Embrace Living Communities CEO

While the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way many UCC-related older adult communities ensure the safety of their residents, one thing hasn’t changed: finding additional ways to provide health and wellness services. For Embrace Living Communities — based in Oakbrook, Ill. — a commitment to bolster health and wellness programming is coming to fruition, thanks to a newly-created fund that will be used to purchase equipment and implement programming.

“We know, especially in today’s environment, that prevention is a big part of the health of our seniors,” says Ralph Gaines, CEO of Embrace Living Communities. “With preexisting conditions causing further issues with viruses, we want to be able to support our residents’ wellness and make this a long-term strategy for our organization.”

Begun with seed money from a couple of long-time donors’ wills, the fund recently received an additional $50,000 thanks to a Kott Memorial Trust grant, bringing its total to $225,000. Embrace Living applied for the Kott grant after being contacted by the trust following a call to Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.).

Leading Age Illinois organized the call with Duckworth’s office earlier this year in order to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on affordable housing and HUD funding for health and wellness services. During the call, Gaines explained how Embrace Living Communities works proactively to provide wellness programming, despite tenuous funding. Kott contacted him shortly after the call.

Thanks to the new fund, Embrace Living is purchasing Sci-Fit exercise bikes, which allow for arm movement as well as peddling. “We will be planning the efforts with third-party wellness organizations within each housing community where we will offer the programs,” says Gaines. “We will be thinking through each building’s community space” to determine the best locations for programs and exercise equipment. Health and wellness programs will be personalized to each individual’s circumstance.

“We want our seniors to actively engage in healthy activities and have this experience be a big part of the communities where they live,” Gaines says. “A focused program on wellness adds a long-term benefit of health and happiness for seniors as they age. These types of programs are not widely available in senior affordable housing and this is one of our quality differentiators.”

“Health and an active lifestyle play a big part of my own life experiences,” Gaines adds. “I live and breathe it every day, and I want to take that same passion and bring it to those who both work here and to those who call it home.”

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