United Church Homes Communities Embracing Diversity Work

Avonne Bennett (standing left) talks with Canal Village and David’s Way residents near a pond on the Canal Winchester, Ohio, grounds.

By Ashley Bills, UCH corporate communications manager. Reprinted with permission from the Winter 2021-2022 Spirit Magazine.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) has long been a part of the mission, vision and values at United Church Homes (UCH). Its core values, written in an acrostic which spells the word CHRIST, encourage employees to welcome everyone, honor the differences among them and reflect God’s love.

For Avonne Bennett, service coordinator at the affordable housing communities of Canal Village and David’s Way in Canal Winchester, Ohio, UCH’s focus on DEI is emboldening.

“It makes me feel empowered knowing I work for an organization with this focus,” Bennett said. “As a person of color with American Asian and Pacific Islander heritage, I know I have every opportunity to be successful and be a leader in the industry, just like anyone else.”

Bennett said she wholeheartedly embraces the UCH culture by treating everyone equally. “It makes me feel accepted for who I am and knowing my worth is based on merit, not by superficial stereotypes,” she said.

The impact of DEI makes employees and residents feel valued and builds a foundation of acceptance from the moment you enter the doors of a UCH community, Bennett added. “Feeling valued is the driving force for motivation and striving for excellence,” she said.

Residents at Canal Village and David’s Way described living in UCH communities as a welcoming environment, where individuals are treated equally and share in their differences.

“Everyone is welcome here,” said resident Wendy Smith. Resident Teresa Simpkins concurred. “Everyone is treated equally,” she said. “We can talk to each other and everyone shares a similar story, no matter the struggle or the race.”

Long-time resident Gloria Quijano said, “I’ve been happy here for five years. I feel like I am treated well by everyone.”

Randy Fraikes, who lives at Spoon River Towers, an affordable housing community in Lewston, Ill., said he feels accepted in his community, and doesn’t have to hide who he is. “I’ve had nothing but support from my friends here,” he said. “It’s been a welcoming community.”

UCH leaders are aligning together across diverse backgrounds to inspire employees to support diversity, build equity and seek justice while providing exceptional healthcare and housing services to older adults, and the results from the field are successful.

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