Today’s Front Line Hero: Compass Housing Alliance

June 18, 2020

Today’s Front Line Hero is Compass Housing Alliance, which has made significant adjustments to protect its guests, residents, and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Located in Seattle, WA, Compass Housing Alliance provides essential services and affordable housing for people who are homeless, and those with low-income. The organization is rooted in the Lutheran tradition of showing care to neighbors through service, and welcomes all people equally with love.

Compass Housing Alliance took intentional steps to protect its community from the spread of the COVID-19 virus, including de-intensifying emergency shelters. De-intensifying means moving some guests to new locations in order to give enough room for proper social distancing in the shelters, and a new location at the Miller Community Center was opened in March to provide the additional space required.

Steven has been with Compass Housing Alliance for nearly two years and is a program coordinator at the Miller Shelter. “We are seeing a lot of people coming through,” Steven said. “The need is big, even before COVID. There are just so many reasons that people experience homelessness. We take real care at intake to not judge people or assume they are here for this or that reason. We get to know our guests as individuals and work with them on a case by case basis. We work with them, we give them the tools, but it is up to them to use them.”

The Miller Shelter took on 35 guests from the Compass First Presbyterian Shelter and 15 from the Blaine Center Shelter. The Miller Shelter features 24/7 access, on-site laundry, showers, hygiene services, common rooms with ping pong and TVs, and a laundry service for bedding.

Compass Housing Alliance has staff on hand 24/7 at the Miller Community Center, and the case managers from their original shelter are available to guests.“We have phones, computers, and everything is socially distanced and masked up,” Steven said. “We get our meals, three hot meals a day, from Operation Sack Lunch. The dining area and all the common rooms are spaced out and follow CDC and public health guidelines.”

Staff does spot cleaning and sanitizing throughout the day and have a professional cleaning service that comes in twice a day, as well. There have been no positive cases of COVID-19 at the Miller Shelter.

“The other thing I love that we do is the services we provide,” Steven said. “Sometimes the support someone needs is as simple as covering the cost for something like a driver’s license, or first and last month’s rent. We have built into our program ways to remove the barriers that keep people from getting out of homelessness. Sometimes they just need a little support to change their own lives. One of the most gratifying things is seeing people rehoused and back on their feet. And we are seeing that from people from all walks of life.”

Thank you to Compass Housing Alliance for the steps you’ve taken to keep your guests and staff safe from COVID-19, and to the excellent staff like Steven who are serving their neighbors faithfully throughout the pandemic!

Today’s Front Line Hero: Mosaic

June 19, 2020

Today’s Front Line Hero is Mosaic, which is thoughtfully responding to both the COVID-19 pandemic and systemic racism in our country.

Based in Omaha, Nebraska, Mosaic provides services for people with intellectual and development disabilities, supports behavioral health and people with autism, and offers care for seniors. Mosaic’s reach is far and wide, serving more than 3,700 people in 10 states. The organization aims to empower people to be as independent as possible, while providing individualized, loving care.

As part of its commitment to the health of the people it serves, its employees, and the community, Mosaic has taken precautionary measures to keep people safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. It publicly released a comprehensive plan that considers everything from staffing to protective equipment to daily operations, ensuring transparency with the community. Mosaic also calls on the community to help prevent the spread of the virus with social distancing.

The staff at Mosaic have continued their dedicated work throughout the pandemic, and found ways to engage people with disabilities in fun activities. From sending messages to family members, to wearing funny hats, to simply getting outside to enjoy the nice weather, Mosaic staff are always looking for ways to brighten the days of those they serve.

In addition to its COVID-19 response, Mosaic thoughtfully responded to the death of George Floyd and pervasive racial inequity in the United States. Mosaic’s president and CEO, Linda Timmons, released a statement reaffirming Mosaic’s longstanding commitment to the inclusion of all people and its unequivocal stand against systemic racism. Linda calls on each of us to first “look deep inside ourselves and ask what biases about race we hold,” and then ask “how our actions or inactions, which come from those biases, have contributed to the problem.” Mosaic’s leadership is committed to engaging in that personal reflection, and to leading the organization to make a difference.

Thank you to Mosaic for your continued commitment to empowering your community and promoting racial equity!

Today’s Front Line Hero: Lutheran Social Services of Illinois

June 22, 2020

Today’s Front Line Hero is Lutheran Social Services of Illinois, which is making efforts to recognize its staff’s hard work with a segment it calls, “Healing Heroes.

Lutheran Social Services of Illinois (LSSI) began serving Illinois in 1867 and touched nearly 50,000 lives across the state in 2019. LSSI’s mission is to bring healing, justice, and wholeness to people and communities, and it provides a wide array of services including foster care, mental health services, alcohol and drug treatment, various senior services, residential programs for individuals with disabilities, and programs to help people who were formerly incarcerated reintegrate into society.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, staff at LSSI are working to address new challenges in the community brought on by the pandemic and economic downturn. LSSI is recognizing the efforts of individual staff with stories of the “Healing Heroes” on its Facebook page.

One of the Healing Heroes LSSI recognized is Isis Sanchez, a social worker at LSSI’s Intact Family Services Child Welfare, who is deeply committed to serving families in her community. Recently, Isis faced the challenge of assisting a single-parent family with three children who became homeless during the pandemic. Homeless shelters were on lockdown, complicating the referral system, and the family was forced to live in their car temporarily. Isis worked hard to support this family by working with schools and referring organizations, while simultaneously securing temporary housing, which is difficult to find. Isis was successful in her efforts, and secured housing for the family in a hotel until they can find a more sustainable solution, and accessed emergency funding through the Department of Child and Family Services to provide financial support to the family.

Thank you to LSSI staff like Isis Sanchez, who are determined to serve families in need during the pandemic, and to LSSI for recognizing and supporting their service.

Today’s Front Line Hero: Lutheran Services Carolinas

June 23, 2020

Today’s Front Line Hero is Lutheran Services Carolinas, which held Father’s Day celebrations at its senior care communities.

Lutheran Services Carolinas (LSC) is motivated by Christian faith to walk together with all people it serves. One of the many services it provides is senior living facilities across North Carolina, including independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing care, memory care, and rehabilitation services.

On Sunday, June 21, LSC’s senior living communities celebrated Father’s Day. Staff at the communities posted videos with messages from residents’ families, wishing them a happy Father’s Day. The staff and residents also spoke about what being a father means to them, and posted the videos on social media. For example, Trinity Oaks resident, John McWhorter, was interviewed, and he reflected on being a father, saying that to him, it was about molding a life and seeing another soul grow and develop. Chaplain Paul Myers at Trinity Village says for him, being a father allows the opportunity to pass on the love that he received when he was growing up to the next generation.

Family members sent loving cards and videos to their dads at LSC senior living communities. The communities also celebrated on Sunday with cards from the staff, doughnuts and coffee at Trinity Glen, and breakfast biscuits at Trinity Place.

Thank you to the dedicated Lutheran Services Carolinas staff at senior living communities who celebrated fathers on Sunday, and reminded them that they are loved!

Today’s Front Line Hero: Samaritas

June 24, 2020

Today’s Front Line Hero is Samaritas, which continues to support refugees through programming like the virtual 2020 Youth Refugee Art Show.

Samaritas is one of Michigan’s largest faith-based, nonprofit health and human services agencies, serving the state since 1934. Samaritas works to transform “entire communities one life at a time,” with services for seniors, children and families, refugees, and others. Services include multiple programs for young refugees, including an unaccompanied refugee minor program, refugee foster care, transitional foster care, host homes, mentoring, tutoring, and interpreters. These programs help support youth as they transition to life in the United States, and provide them with a stable environment, as well as resources to help heal from past traumas.

Samaritas hosts an annual youth art show, with all proceeds supporting Refugee Youth Services programs. All of the art on display was created by the young people in the Samaritas Refugee Foster Care program. Art gives the youth an outlet to express themselves, and Samaritas celebrates their creativity, vibrancy, and energy.

This year’s art show is virtual due to the COVID-19 outbreak, and Samaritas is hosting an excellent virtual event. The art show video is here, and Samaritas’ online store provides the opportunity for shoppers to have their favorite piece printed on any of the items found in the online store.

Thank you to Samaritas for your commitment to refugees in your community, and for your creativity with programming in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Today’s Front Line Hero: Good Shepherd Lutheran Community

June 25, 2020

Today’s Front Line Hero is Good Shepherd Lutheran Community, which is caring for the physical, social, and emotional needs of its residents.

Good Shepherd Lutheran Community is a senior living community in Blair, Nebraska, offering skilled nursing care, assisted living, subsidized housing, and independent living. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Good Shepherd Lutheran Community has worked hard to keep residents safe and healthy, including following all guidelines from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and remaining in frequent contact with other entities at the national, state, and local levels to remain up to date on protocols. The team at Good Shepherd Lutheran Community met daily to discuss operations, keeping the residents’ physical, cognitive, and psychosocial well-being at the forefront of all they do.

Like many other senior living communities, restricting visitors has been tough for the residents at Good Shepherd Lutheran Community. Administrator Sharon Colling said that while visitor restrictions have been in place, residents have been able to interact with their families at the door of the facilities or spoken through the glass, and Good Shepherd has iPads onsite for residents to use to talk with their families.

Recently, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts announced that, though it will be a long process, long-term care facilities can begin phasing in to opening soon to allow visitors. Nebraska is still in Phase 1 of reopening and it isn’t until Phase 3 that visitors are allowed for limited visitation, but the state has requested plans from facilities like Good Shepherd as they prepare for what Phase 3 will look like. HHS and CMS released guidance for long-term care facilities, which Good Shepherd used to craft a safe plan for visitation, which would allow for visitors by appointment only, in designated areas, and with everyone wearing masks.

Collings said she is really excited for when Good Shepherd can allow visitors, and she will notify families as soon as plans are approved by the state. “I know how difficult it is for the residents, and there is nothing I’m looking forward to more than for them being together,” Colling said. “The separation of the residents and their families has been the most difficult thing I have ever endured in my career.”

Thank you to Good Shepherd Lutheran Community for keeping your residents’ holistic well-being as a top priority, and for making well-informed plans to safely allow for visitors soon!

Today’s Front Line Hero: Diakon

June 26, 2020


By Caitlyn Gudmundsen, Senior Manager of Program Development and Outreach 

Today’s Front Line Hero is Diakon Lutheran Social Ministries and Diakon Family Life Services, which is offering an online coffee and conversation support group to the community.

Diakon offers a range of senior lifestyle and healthcare services, as well as programs for children, youth, and families in Pennsylvania and Maryland. Diakon’s name means “one assigned by the church to minister to the needs of others,” and it takes that name seriously, directly serving more than 70,000 individuals annually.

The COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn have induced stress and anxiety for many Americans. Diakon is working to support the emotional and psychological needs of its community, and began offering an online support group in June. Every Wednesday and Friday, Diakon therapists host a Coffee and Conversation online support group through Zoom. It is free to participate, and Diakon invites all who are interested in meeting new people, chatting about life, or just looking for something new to add to a morning routine. Adults gather with their morning beverage of choice, and get to know the Diakon therapists and each other through conversation, providing a safe place for discussion.

Thank you to Diakon for your work to support the emotional and psychological needs of your community through the COVID-19 pandemic!

Today’s Front Line Hero: The Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society

June 29, 2020

shBy Caitlyn Gudmundsen, Senior Manager of Program Development and Outreach

Today’s Front Line Hero is the Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society, which purchased 1,000 iPads to keep families and residents connected and safe.

The Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society provides senior care in 26 states, and is rooted in its faith-based mission and focus on compassionate care. When the COVID-19 outbreak hit and the Good Samaritan Society locations had to enforce visitor restrictions, leadership worried about increasing isolation at the senior care locations. Leadership wanted to find ways to keep residents engaged with their families, while keeping them safe from COVID-19.

Soon after the pandemic began, the organization made efforts to connect families and residents by purchasing 1,000 iPads for its rehab/skilled care and assisted living locations. Helping residents connect to their loved ones has become such a part of daily life that staff at many of those locations say they can’t imagine life without the iPads. Staff say their calendars have been full of video appointments since the iPads arrived, and that the video chats are the next best thing to allowing visitors into the building. The iPads are now also being used for doctor’s visits, music therapy, and screenings and check-ins.

Staff have found fun ways to engage with the iPads, like one director of activities, who printed off photos of characters from the Brady Bunch to label the 9 iPads received at that location. Residents and families have been appreciative of the new-found way to connect, and the Good Samaritan Society staff say they feel supported through having the appropriate protective equipment and the iPads. For some residents, using an iPad to video chat is new to them. One employee recalls the first video visit she set up for a 99-year-old resident who said, “I’ve lived through a horse and buggy and now I’m seeing my son on the telephone.”

The Good Samaritan Society leadership recognize that giving residents the opportunity to connect to their families is giving them life.

Thank you to the Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society for your commitment to seniors’ well-being, and helping prevent social isolation by providing resources for virtual family visits!

Today’s Front Line Hero: Village On The Isle

June 30, 2020

Today’s Front Line Hero is Village On The Isle, which held a celebration for the graduates employed there.

Village On The Isle (VOTI) is an independent living retirement community in Venice, FL that is committed to sharing God’s love by promoting individual growth and dignity, enhancing the quality of life, and meeting the spiritual needs of its residents, staff, and community. VOTI certainly demonstrated that commitment when it recently celebrated the high school and college graduates it employs.

Many of VOTI’s part-time employees are high school and college students. Six of the high schoolers and three of the college students graduated this year, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they did not have a typical graduation ceremony and celebration. VOTI hosted a ceremony to honor its graduating employees, which was attended by the students, their families, and had a huge resident turnout. The ceremony included speeches, and all of the necessary social distancing safeguards to keep everyone safe from COVID-19.

The VOTI residents loved celebrating the graduates, and said it brought back happy memories of their own graduations, as well as those of their children and grandchildren. The residents care deeply about the students who work on staff, and many contribute generously to the Resident Scholarship Fund. They were delighted to see how their investment in the young VOTI employees’ education has resulted in graduating nurses, business leaders, and others. The love that is present in the VOTI community is felt, and one of the parents of a graduate posted on Facebook, saying that the staff and residents truly care about the employees.

Thank you to Village On The Isle for fostering a community of love that supports young people and celebrates their accomplishments!

Today’s Front Line Hero: LSS Lutheran Village

July 1, 2020

shBy Caitlyn Gudmundsen, Senior Manager of Program Development and Outreach

Today’s Front Line Hero is LSS Lutheran Village, which held a car parade to connect families and residents while maintaining necessary social distancing.

LSS Lutheran Village is an assisted living facility in Ashland, OH, and is a program of Lutheran Social Services, which provides services in 27 counties in Ohio. The LSS Network of Hope’s mission is to contribute to a better world by serving people in need, and at the LSS Lutheran Village, the organization lives out its faith by providing seniors with excellent healthcare services within a welcoming, home-like setting.

LSS Lutheran Village recognizes that its residents are missing their families with the necessary visitor restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. So that residents and families could see each other while maintaining social distancing to keep everyone safe, LSS Lutheran Village hosted a car parade. There was a great turnout with 35 cars and 22 families participating! It was a very emotional event, as the residents and families hadn’t seen each other in a long time and were overjoyed to interact, even if from a distance. Executive Director, ShaNa Benner said the day of the car parade was the “best day in all my 18 years here!”

Thank you to LSS Lutheran Village for your creativity in connecting residents to their families!