United Church Homes Celebrates 100 Years, Emphasizes Advocacy Need

United Church Homes, a leading national senior living provider based in Marion, Ohio, recently celebrated 100 years of growth and progress with a two-day observance in Columbus. More than 250 guests, including donors, residents, clergy, board of director members, and others participated in the historic celebration.

An organization that began in 1916 with five residents in a small house in Toledo has blossomed into one of the country’s major nonprofit, faith-based ministries, serving more than 4,000 residents in 68 communities across 13 states and two Native American reservations.

The mission of United Church Homes (UCH) is to transform aging by building a culture of community, wholeness, and peace – and this theme was evident in a dozen workshops and presentations that were made by senior executives from organizations working collaboratively with UCH to educate and inform people on significant issues related to aging.

Experts from across the nation, from New York to California, joined the United Church Homes celebration to discuss a variety of topics that impact the quality of life for seniors. Robin Lombardo, regional director of Music & Memory, a program that uses personalized music to connect with people afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease, discussed the effect that music has on the brain and why this innovative approach works so well with older adults. A year ago UCH became a certified provider of the Music & Memory program in all of its healthcare communities.

Representatives from the national and Ohio offices of LeadingAge – Dr. Cheryl Phillips and Nisha Hammel – discussed the importance of advocacy and how to change the world of senior services. LeadingAge, as the nation’s foremost association for mission-oriented nonprofits that provide healthcare and housing services to elders, regularly partners with UCH to ensure the voices of seniors are heard and heeded.

Since its inception, UCH has been in covenant with the United Church of Christ (UCC) and its predecessor denominations. Rev. John Dorhauer, UCC general minister and president, concluded the celebration with prayer and worship, while Michael Readinger, president and CEO of the UCC’s Council for Health and Human Service Ministries (CHHSM), discussed the relevance of spirituality and faith-based ministries.

Other keynote presenters included Dr. Tim Johnston, assistant director of Social Enterprise and Training Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE), who discussed how aging is affecting the LGBTQ community; and Paul Toepfer of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, whose workshop covered fraud and financial abuse against seniors.

UCH President and CEO Rev. Kenneth Daniel said, “Community lies at the essence of United Church Homes. We began 100 years ago with life shared in Christian community, and that idea has carried through everything we do today.”

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