New Plymouth Place Leader Finds Calling in a Place Called ‘Home’

Jay Biere

For Jay Biere, assuming the role of chief executive officer of UCC-related Plymouth Place Senior Living in LaGrange, Ill., is like coming home — to his children and grandchildren who live in the area, and to his sense of call.

Biere, who started at Plymouth Place in January, says he felt that sense of call from the beginning. “I felt that this is an opportunity that God is opening up for me,” Biere says.

Plymouth Place opened its doors in suburban Chicago in 1944. Founded by Congregational churches, its mission is to live out love of neighbors by providing a welcoming environment for older adults, and its focus is on the dignity and worth of each individual.

“The mission, vision, and values of Plymouth Place fits my own mission statement,” says Biere. From the beginning, “I felt a connection with the residents, staff and employees.”

A Comprehensive Life Care Community, Plymouth Place has an endowment that helps residents live life to the fullest by taking care of their needs. This includes an endowment fund that helps support people at various levels, especially for long-time residents who, while having lived responsibility, have outlived their means.

Plymouth Place offers spiritual, intellectual, physical, and cultural programs for residents, including Tai Chi, massage therapy, chaplain services, yoga and exercise classes, and programs in the arts. But so far, Biere finds the residents the most exciting aspect of his work.

“We have a resident population that is very involved with the leadership of the organization,” he says. Residents serve on numerous committees, including healthcare, friendship, welcome, and benevolence.

“The residents share in leadership with staff and have built a sense of community,” he adds.

Looking Ahead to New Opportunities

Biere sees developing ways to grow and nurture the faith-based values of Plymouth Place as one of his main responsibilities. Currently in discussion is a possible expansion of the campus, and partnering with other local senior living communities  in order to provide better services for everyone.

Plymouth Place already works closely with other community groups, and Biere says developing closer ties with other senior communities is the logical next step.

“We have to stay on top of current trends,” he says. “One can’t be in this field as a ‘Steady Eddie’ anymore —that’s not sustainable.”

Since Biere started in January, Plymouth Place already has implemented some changes “for long-term sustainability,” he says, “and to support the ‘why’ of why we exist.”

Servant Leadership is Key

Prior to coming to Plymouth Place, Biere served Meadows Mennonite Retirement Community, which specializes in dementia care, in the Bloomington, Ill., area. He began his career at the now-Fortune 500 company, Service Master (a faith-based nonprofit whose name is a play on the phrase, “Serving the Master”).

Throughout his career, he has worked in environments similar to the servant leadership approach of CHHSM member ministries. He says he looks forward to expanding the understanding of servant leadership throughout the staff of Plymouth Place.

“I’m excited to be a servant leader, and to exercise servant leadership,” he says.

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