Looking at Employee Benefits Through the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Lens

August 25, 2023

You work hard to do what’s right — and do right by the broadest set of people.

It can be such a challenge keeping track of all the benefits and creative perks today’s workforce demands! What do employees want most: Flexibility? Better benefits? Robust mental health support? Did you ever think inclusiveness would top the list?

Consider the experience of an employee who is a victim of recent racial trauma, showing up for a video therapy session with a white therapist. Or an employee who needs a flexible schedule to fulfill responsibilities at home like caring for a disabled dependent. Is your organization adequately addressing the needs of an ever-evolving workforce?

The Evolution of Diversity Dialogue

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is a hot topic for good reason. As you can imagine, DEI’s roots dig deep in the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Over many decades it has come to inspire conversations not only on diversity in race, but also gender and gender identities, life experiences, income levels, religious backgrounds, ages and stages of life, languages, and household family structures.

The May 2020 injustice of George Floyd’s arrest and consequential death, and the innumerable tragedies since then have amplified Americans’ awareness of the injustices around them. With this new awareness, many Americans look to their employers to take more action.

Where DEI and Benefits Collide

DEI intersects with everything that you’ve promised employees to care for their well-being.

So, you’ve successfully built a dynamic, diverse workforce. Benefits packages have been regularly updated with recruiting and retention in mind. But have you conducted a DEI audit lately?

Diversity experts will tell you that looking through the DEI lens more carefully at your employee benefits materials, policies and procedures, facilities, special events, and other employee-centered programs and perks should be a routine, ongoing effort.

Think about the importance of making health coverage, comfortable workspaces, leaves of absence, mental health support, and flexible schedules available to all on an equal level. Sounds straightforward, but it turns out, it can be all too easy to miss the mark for at least one subgroup of employees. The key is making a concerted effort to regularly review DEI efforts and your progress and grow in your knowledge of where gaps exist.

You can’t satisfy every need 100% of the time, but it’s important to start somewhere. Small but intentional changes can go a long way to convey an organization’s sensitivity and commitment to responding to employees’ needs with care. Consider how you can engage with employees to better understand what’s most important to them.

To ramp up inclusivity and equity efforts in the workplace, potential next steps might include:

  • Examining equal opportunity: Do your professional development and educational assistance programs provide equal opportunity to all regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, position, and income level?
  • Meeting accessibility needs: Where virtual engagement is possible or expected, are you meeting the technology needs of all interested employees? For example, telemedicine meets people where they are, day or night. On the topic of remote work and flexibility, have you thought of all of the employee groups that could benefit: disabled, commuters, semi-retired, working parents, and caregivers, to name a few?
  • Acknowledging modern households and couples: Understand that a “traditional family” is a thing of the past. Do you adequately support today’s diverse family structures, which may include employees and their dependents, aging parents, adopted or foster children, and same-sex spouses?

This is just the tip of the iceberg! Sometimes, in a rush to meet the growing needs of one employee population, we miss the mark with another. Dissecting the needs of a multigenerational workforce, the World Economic Forum offers this perspective:

  • Gen Z: Social issues matter, employer values should align with their own; concerned about well-being and mental health; desire dialogue but may prefer digital over face-to-face.
  • Millennials: Early adopters of remote work, appreciate flexibility; in the process of building families, so health insurance, parental leave, childcare, and fertility benefits are top of mind; looking to pay off student loan debt.
  • Gen X: Mid to late career with kids at home or transitioning to empty nesters; the generation most likely to care for dependents and aging parents simultaneously, so affordable health insurance, flexibility, and dependent care assistance are important.
  • Baby Boomers: Retired or nearing retirement, aging, and possibly facing health issues for selves or partner; value traditional benefits and affordability is key.1

Commit to the Cause

Don’t let your organization’s dedication to DEI lapse, no matter what events or distractions lie ahead. The greatest impact comes from ongoing effort. Successful DEI initiatives can set you up for:

  • Increased employee engagement and satisfaction
  • Higher retention, lower turnover
  • A more diverse pool of candidates
  • Better decision-making2

Some tactics you may consider to stay on track:

  • Make sure messaging at every level communicates diversity and inclusiveness as core values, and promotes the benefits of a synergy that comes from integrating people of many backgrounds;
  • Continue investing in diversity training and education for decision makers, HR professionals, and any staff in leadership positions at the facility level;
  • Send out regular reminders about benefits offerings to ensure they’re being used;
  • Host listening sessions with employees who have an ear to the ground and can share real stories from the sidelines about those feeling underrepresented or underserved by benefits;
  • Develop a means for measuring organizational progress on DEI initiatives.

All employees want to be seen.

Remember, to retain your best employees and attract new people, it’s important to remain committed to cultivating a warm, welcoming environment. Be well-intentioned, flexible, and ready for unexpected shifts in workforce demands. Above all, make diversity, inclusion, and equity a driving force at every level of your organization for a richer, more sustainable future.


Learn more about Portico Benefit Services.

1Chen, Jacklyn (2022). Here’s How to Tailor Employee Benefits to a Diverse Workforce. World Economic Forum. Retrieved January 25, 2023, from https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2022/09/employee-benefits-diversity/

2Diversity Equity and Inclusion: Why it Matters. St. Bonaventure University. Retrieved January 26, 2023, from https://online.sbu.edu/news/why-dei-matters

Forward-looking Approaches Toward Health Equity

August 10, 2023

Recently, I had the privilege to speak with Lutheran Services in America members about how they approach achieving health equity in their communities. Recognizing the challenges community members face with housing and food insecurity, lack of transportation, challenges receiving behavioral health care, and loneliness and social isolation (also known as social determinants of health (SDOH)), five members of the Coalition for Better Social Care shared innovative and promising solutions. Thanks to their groundbreaking approaches, more than 11,000 people have been screened for SDOH risks. Their efforts laid the groundwork for reaching more people, identifying their needs, and providing the services and supports that help community members live independently and thrive.

Source: Amanda Krzykowski, LSS Wisconsin


Below is a snapshot of the conversation with:

Watch the full conversation.

Source: Amanda Krzykowski, LSS Wisconsin


A key insight offered was to integrate screenings for social determinants of health during regular interactions with program participants. While screenings are often conducted during initial interactions, needs can change over time. Updated information can help tailor programs to current needs, use resources more effectively, allow more people to receive services, and better connect people with appropriate services to support their specific needs.

For example:

  • Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska shared that for a variety of factors, older adults were resistant to utilizing their behavioral health services. Staff started meeting residents where they were – in the dining facilities, at group activities – rather than scheduling formal appointments. Using relationship-building questions to initiate conversations, they earned the trust of the older adults which grew into identifying needs and providing appropriate behavioral health services.
  • Genacross Lutheran Services in Toledo, Ohio, suggested integrating facilities staff, who interact frequently with residents, into regular care planning meetings. Now, the facilities staff are key partners in identifying other services and support needed. A request to “just change a light bulb” expanded into a realization the resident had trouble getting out of their chair and might need medical attention.
  • Family Health Centers at NYU Langone is implementing new protocols when residents return home from the hospital (known as transitional care), conducting a targeted SDOH screening to identify the unique needs after hospitalization such as home care, transportation to medical appointments, and meal assistance.

During our conversation, members emphasized that addressing SDOH needs is the pathway to health equity. Lutheran Social Services of Illinois Director Matt Hammoudeh summarized: “Without stable and secure housing and other basic needs met, program participants struggle to focus on health matters such as doctor’s appointments and filling prescriptions.”

Our network excels at innovation in the face of challenging situations. Members of the Coalition for Better Social Care are seeking more reliable sources of funding to provide program sustainability, such as Medicaid reimbursements and contracts with health insurers. The mechanisms for reimbursement are still emerging, such as the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Service’s recently proposed Physician Fee Schedule that includes SDOH reimbursements under Medicare, and new partnerships are needed to scale services. Going forward, we will be convening thought leadership on reimbursement mechanisms and enabling conditions leading to partnerships with health insurers and others.


We invite you to join your peers to advance health equity: Susan Newton, Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives at Lutheran Services in America, will guide you to a Collaborative that best fits your strategic direction.

For more information, watch our Strength & Service Series webinar “Swap Shop: Innovative Strategies Across the Network to Address Social Determinants of Health.

Looking for more information on social determinants of health? This easy-to-print graphic details what SDOH are and why they are important. We encourage you to utilize this resource and share it within your respective communities and organizations!


New Headquarters Marks “New Beginning” for Lutheran Family Services

August 7, 2023

LCS Northwest Supports Afghan Family’s Search for New Home

July 28, 2023

Grounding our Work in the Lives of Families

June 13, 2023

Participating members of our Family Stabilization Initiative united in Seattle to discuss how to raise the visibility and support the sustainability of our work to engage 580 families in crisis in Alaska, Montana, South Dakota and Washington state. Through this cohort—part of our Results Innovation Lab—we activate community networks to address the disproportionate number of children of color separated from their families. Key to our success are our valued partners. By building a broad base of support, we are expanding supports in underserved communities that empower families to stay together.

For three days, member collaborated on approaches for sharing our story to engage community partners, evaluated the impacts of the collaborative learning model on implementation and sustainability, focused on the urgency to engage families in crisis and reviewed best practices to support key components of sustainability. Cohort members also shared marketing and outreach materials with each other to spark ideas for raising the visibility of their programs and engaging key community stakeholders in this work to reach more families.

Through this close interaction in such a collaborative setting, the Family Stabilization Initiative is generating the momentum needed to make a quantifiable difference for leaders in their communities and incentivizing additional partners to join us in this work. The cohort challenges participants to step into the shoes of the families with whom they engage to provide additional perspective on their experiences.

Several of our partners joined us for the convening:

  • Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago facilitated collaborative breakout discussions around the seven components of sustainability—leadership capacity, equity, program fidelity, staffing, referrals, investment and community partnerships—for cohort members to share valuable insights on their successes and challenges as it relates to each component. Chapin Hall is committed to improving the well-being of children, youth, families and communities, dedicated to equity, and charged to create child welfare resources, practices, and policies that prioritize family support and prevention.
  • Evans & Associates discussed asset-based storytelling to promote learning, sharing and telling our story and the stories of our families to engage people and the community in this work. The group provides an equity lens to storytelling through aspirational communications that amplifies the impacts of mission-related causes, initiatives and organizations.
  • Our evaluation partner Wilder Research led an interactive session, “Ripple Effects Mapping,” to visually capture the impacts of the Results Innovation Lab over the course of the three-year initiative in building the capacity of the targeted four states to address racial inequities in local child welfare through prevention and to sustain the evidenced-based model beyond three years.
  • Our partners at the National Center for Innovation and Excellence (NCFIE) organized a session around the urgency to engage families that are in crisis and best practices for family engagement and follow-up.
  • Sheila Weber of Homegrown Strategies led a diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) session focused on managing stress and building resiliency as well as a group brainstorming and problem-solving session focused on a specific dilemma one team is facing. Fellow cohort members were able to offer questions, expertise and ideas for tackling this challenge within their respective communities.

Collectively, we’re spearheading approaches that build on the strengths of families in ways we could not do on our own. When we come together, we create new pathways—and hope—for people and communities across the country.


Renada Johnson is the Director of Children, Youth and Families and Elizabeth Vetter is a Program Associate at Lutheran Services in America.

President and Congress Agree to Deal Suspending the Debt Limit, Making Other Federal Spending Changes

June 6, 2023

On May 28, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and President Joe Biden released the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023, legislation to suspend the debt limit until January 1, 2025. The bill marked the culmination of weeks of negotiation between the two sides to agree on a way to suspend the debt limit and include other legislative provisions as well. Not included in the deal was a provision that had been discussed to increase administrative barriers to Medicaid participation via increased work requirements and reporting, which Lutheran Services in America had opposed.

The package passed the House of Representatives on May 31 by a bipartisan vote of 314 to 117 and the Senate on June 1 by a vote of 63 to 36. The President signed the bill into law on June 3, narrowly avoiding the June 5 deadline when the Treasury Department had indicated the United States would no longer be able to pay all of its bills.

Key elements of the legislation of interest to our network include:

  • Cap in spending: The bill will cap federal defense and non-defense spending for fiscal years 2024 and 2025, with non-defense spending receiving the greater share of the reduction. The deal will reduce those caps by another percentage in the event Congress does not pass appropriations bills to fund the government by January 1, 2024 and January 1, 2025, respectively.
  • New time limits and work requirements for SNAP and TANF:
    • The bill includes new, additional time limits for able-bodied adults without children (ABAWDs) receiving benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP,) formerly known as food stamps. Current law subjects ABAWDs 18–49 years old to a three-month limit every three years for getting food assistance unless they can prove they are working 20 hours a week or 80 hours a month. The new law expands this requirement up to the age of 54. The bill does provide full work requirement exemptions for veterans, people experiencing homelessness, and those aging out of foster care.
    • The bill expands work requirements under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. First, the legislation creates a new pilot program in up to five states for six years to measure “work outcomes” (as opposed to existing work participation rates) and requires the states and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to negotiate metrics and targets. The legislation further requires that all states measure “work outcomes,” including employment and earnings. It is unclear how the states would administer this change. The bill also makes changes to the caseload reduction credit (which states can receive by decreasing the number of individuals receiving TANF relative to a fixed metric) in a way that could result in families being removed from the program entirely.
  • Rescission of unspent COVID-19 funds: The bill will take back approximately $30 billion of COVID-19 aid that federal agencies received through multiple COVID-19 relief bills but had not yet spent.
  • End of student loan repayment pause: The bill will end the student loan payment pause, requiring borrowers to begin repayment 60 days after June 30. This section also prohibits the Secretary of Education from taking any action to extend the current student loan pause absent express Congressional authorization.

Sarah Dobson is the Senior Director of Public Policy and Advocacy at Lutheran Services in America.

Your Voice Charts our Future

May 9, 2023

How can we maximize the value of this amazing network is a question we are asking. Like many of you, we are reevaluating our strategy and your perspectives shape the future of this network. You are sharing your visions of how collectively we can respond in ways that strengthen our communities and hold true to our collective mission of empowering people to lead their best lives.

After a thorough search, we engaged Collective Action Lab to guide us in this exploration. We are evaluating our capabilities and constraints: what we do well, what we need to stop doing and how we need to evolve. We have met with over 55 different groups to inform our strategy—some virtually, some in person—including Lutheran social ministry leaders, board members and current and future partners. As part of these conversations, we are examining the impact of near-term trends and future disrupters on our work together.

Our listening sessions identified a multitude of challenges and opportunities including workforce and changing demographics, inadequate public financing and reimbursement, trauma and fatigue in your communities, evolving models of care, organizational rightsizing, downsizing and consolidation, the need for affordable housing, and the impact of technology.

Your voice charts our future. You are sharing ways that you value coming together to strengthen our collective capacity to lead, amplify our unified, faith-based voice and catalyze innovation. United in our shared purpose and faith tradition of social ministry, our strategy work explores how we continue to evolve to meet the ever-changing needs of our communities.

Over the summer we will continue to build out our strategy and solicit input and perspective. Stay tuned!


Alesia Frerichs is President & CEO of Lutheran Services in America.

Building Caring Communities in Affordable Housing

May 8, 2023

“What can we do at this critical moment in time, with a vulnerable population, with a workforce shortage and without more resources? Connect-Home empowers staff in affordable housing, focusing on getting the right people where they are needed and creating a community of care.”  

This was the lead message of a joint presentation to Grantmakers for Housing Stability in Aging on April 12 by Susan Newton, Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives at Lutheran Services in America, about the innovative Connect-Home model. The model, which is being implemented with Lutheran Services in America support in two senior affordable housing units in Brooklyn, New York, aims to improve the health and social outcomes of older adults transitioning home from an acute care experience, including prevention of rehospitalization.

As Newton, Kathy Hopkins of our member Family Health Centers at NYU Langone, and Mark Toles of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill described, the model is uniquely working to partner with on-site resident service coordinators (RSCs) to build a caring community of support to the diverse and medically high-need populations—36 percent of whom are over age 86 and 45 percent of whom list a Chinese dialect as a native language—in the affordable housing units targeted.

Toles, who pioneered the use of Connect-Home for patients transitioning out of skilled nursing facilities, noted how adaptation to affordable housing has been an exciting and sometimes surprising collaborative process with RSCs, senior residents and Family Health Centers at NYU Langone.

“The staff really had minimal awareness of hospital stays. They had an intuitive sense that a recent hospital stay was something to be concerned about but did not have procedures to routinely identify and support [senior residents],” said Toles.

He noted that bringing rigor to the identification of residents with a recent acute care stay was one of the biggest hurdles for getting Connect-Home off the ground. A surprising asset was a log maintained at the front desk tracking ambulance visits to the facility. That list has become a key tool to identify vulnerable residents and engage in follow-up.

The essential transformation was with RSCs, who have started to embrace the model as a key, not ancillary, part of their role. As Hopkins noted, “They came from ‘I cannot add one more thing to my plate’ to ‘This is such a good way of working and prevents older adults in our community from going back to the hospital.’” 

Toles noted some of the seemingly small tasks that RSCs help returning residents with that make a difference, such as tracking down lost discharge instructions or ensuring supportive home care is provided on schedule. RSCs are also being trained to connect residents with more complex follow-on needs to additional community support.  

All partners noted how Connect-Home continues to evolve, with care teams meeting regularly to improve the process, analyze data and improve gaps in identification and services.  

To learn more about this Lutheran Services in America-led learning collaborative, please reach out to Susan Newton.

Kent Mitchell is Vice President of Strategy & Innovation at Lutheran Services in America.

A Lifetime of Leadership: Sally Montgomery’s Mission to Build a Generation of Disability Champions

March 23, 2023

Each March, we celebrate National Developmental Disability Awareness Month, 31 days where we can reflect on the progress made for people with developmental disabilities—as well as the challenges that still lie ahead. The developmental disability community has made great strides in its pursuit of equality. The recent passing of Judy Heumann and her storied decades-long fight for disability rights reminds us of the importance of leadership to address barriers that remain in our society and secure equal opportunities for people with disabilities so they too can realize their dreams.

For years, I have had the pleasure of working with a truly talented pool of leaders who are constantly working to draw out the best in others and empower this community to live full and meaningful lives. At Mosaic, much of that is credited to one particular change leader: Sally Montgomery.

In her more than 40-year career at Mosaic, Sally Montgomery, executive director at Mosaic in northern Colorado, has mentored dozens of people who went on to become successful and visionary leaders within the organization, other service providers and the Colorado disability services division. Through a unique ability to see talent and cultivate confidence in people, she has built leadership teams that shape the ongoing move to personalized, quality services across Mosaic and in her home state.

Sally says she truly enjoys mentoring people. Those whose careers she has helped to build agree she has a unique talent in this area.

Strengths, Weaknesses, and the Key to Success

Jessica Eppel, Mosaic’s executive director in Denver and Colorado Springs, began in direct care working under Sally.

“Sally really listens to people, and it is anybody from any level, to learn what their passion is and what they’re interested in doing. One of the things that I appreciated so much about her was that not only did she look for what I was excited about, she supported me in areas that weren’t my talent. She was willing to engage and get me focused in those areas.

“There are so many conversations with Sally that really stick out for me. When she needs to, she’ll be direct, but usually she leads you to see it for yourself, which allows the person she’s developing to gain that skill because they figure out what they missed along the way.”

One big lesson Jessica said she learned from Sally was, “I need team members to augment my weaknesses. If I take an active role in developing the skills that they need help with, I’m going to be more successful in my job, and how amazing it feels that you have helped someone reach the next level.”

Molly Kennis also began in direct care under Sally and is now Mosaic’s vice president of operations for Colorado and Arizona.

Molly said one lesson she learned from Sally is that “Relationships are everything, and you have to take the time to build those for that future success and to get through the hard times. You’ve got to put the time and energy into that. That will be your greatest strength.

“Sally is very intentional about listening and finding things she can connect to—that personal nugget of information about somebody. She is always genuine and authentic, interested and engaged and wants to be talking with you. You want to be around people like that. You feel like you know her really well and she knows you, but it doesn’t cross personal and professional boundaries.”

Building on the Good

Sally’s mentoring and leadership within Mosaic goes beyond her team. While Mosaic has provided our Mosaic at Home (shared living) program for more than 30 years, Sally led the transformation of all residential services within Colorado to Mosaic at Home. After successfully transitioning services in her own location, she helped shape the systems and processes used across Mosaic and mentors executive directors in other locations working to transition services. She is seen as the “go to” expert, not just on the service line, but also as the coach and to help leaders communicate the change effectively and successfully. She also has assisted other leaders with coaching and communication tips to support aligning teams with Mosaic’s strategic roadmap.

Because of Sally’s influence within the state, Alliance Colorado, the service provider organization, recently presented her a Lifetime Achievement Award. Sally said she sees it as an award for what she’s accomplished so far, because she is not ready to stop.

In her own words, Sally says, “I look for the good and build on that. I try to be an example. I like to hear the personal details because they matter to me. You build trust by lifting people up so they know you have them covered, and you believe in the gifts they can bring. That’s what I want them to turn around and do—build empathy and capacity.

Sally Montgomery truly is an exemplary mentor and coach who is building new generations of leaders in intellectual and developmental disability services.


Linda Timmons is the president and CEO of Mosaic.

Caregivers: Recognizing the Important Role of our Nation’s Hidden Heroes

February 17, 2023

Today we honor millions of people who make an extraordinary difference in the lives of others. Caregiving, both professional and unpaid, is a line of work that has a long and often unrecognized history of providing a better quality of life for older adults, people with disabilities and many others.

Caregivers are heroes—selflessly providing care, often at the expense of their own well-being. It is a rarely talked-about role that is not typically highlighted as a career option to young people, yet is a critical profession caring for the lives of millions of people. There are more than 4 million caregivers who provide direct care in homes and hospitals, and another 55 million people in America who are unpaid caregivers providing care for family or friends.

The role of caregiving is especially important in rural communities where limited resources and isolation for older adults is more acute. For years, our network has leveraged the long-standing commitment of Lutheran social ministries in these communities to expand services for older adults and family caregivers.

As we commemorate National Caregivers Day, it’s important to recognize the complicated journey of caregiving: a role that is incredibly gratifying and simultaneously arduous, especially for those who take on the job alone.

The Personal Challenge of Caregiving

Caring for an older adult has unique challenges and requires significant time, energy and finances from family caregivers. More than 60 percent of family caregivers help older adults with activities of daily living (ADLs), including getting in and out of beds and chairs, bathing, feeding and getting dressed. Nearly all family caregivers also support older adults with instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs), including providing transportation, ordering groceries, performing housework, preparing meals, managing finances and the like. According to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, most caregivers provide these services to one individual, but 18 percent do so for two or more.

Despite assisting with a number of these tasks, the majority of family caregivers admit they need more instruction, including how to keep their care recipient safe at home, manage their stress and identify eligible supports and services. That is a tall order for one person and many family caregivers often assume their role unexpectedly or suddenly.

That was my experience as well. After my mother suffered a stroke, my family and I were immediately thrust into the role of caregivers. It was incredibly difficult to watch my mother, a top C-suite executive, trailblazer in her industry and the smartest person I knew, no longer able to grab a spoon or remember her birthdate. Like many caregivers, I felt overwhelmed by this “new normal” of helping my mother with daily tasks.

Thankfully, my family and I were not alone—we were helped by countless compassionate caregivers who cared for Mom and brought out her smile again. I felt tremendous hope thanks to the caring conversations and whole-person approach from these caregivers. Each day reminded me of the critical importance of our work at Lutheran Services in America. I am truly honored to raise the visibility of caregiver heroes across our nationwide network who support families like mine and individuals like my mother.

Support Makes All the Difference

I know how much of an enormous task caregiving can be on a single person. If there is one thing caregivers should know is that they do not need to go it alone. Support and resources are available to help tackle these seismic responsibilities. Two-thirds of the Lutheran Services in America network are dedicated to caring for older adults, addressing their critical needs and enabling them to lead their best lives.

Lutheran social ministry organizations have developed new ways to support caregivers during these challenging times. Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota, for example, offers coaching and counseling to help family caregivers not only develop their caregiving skills but also find resources and practice self-care to maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle. Samaritas in Michigan and Bethany Village in Kansas are leveraging technology to connect loved ones to caregivers living out of state.

Through our Rural Aging Action Network, Lutheran Services in America unites our member organizations to respond to the increasing number of older adults in rural communities who experience social isolation and difficulty accessing services and supports to successfully age at home. Together, we’re using the unique assets in these communities to address key barriers to care that older adults and caregivers face.

Service providers are doing what they can to bring on as many caregivers as possible during a historic workforce staffing crisis. I ask you to join our network in advocating solutions that support the caregiving community and protect access for all.

As one in four families has experienced, caregiving is more than supplying individuals with basic necessities. It restores the dignity and sense of self-worth of our loved ones during the toughest moments of our lives. As we fulfill our commitment to empower our communities, we cannot forget the sacrifice of many of the caregivers who selflessly come along for the journey.

Ashley Washington is Director of Aging Initiatives at Lutheran Services in America.