Lutheran Services in America Study Demonstrates Scalability of Innovative Transition Care Practices

June 24, 2021

Lutheran Services in America co-authored a study published in April by the medical journal Geriatric Nursing on the impact of our Connect-Home learning collaborative’s implementation of the innovative care transition intervention for older adults in post-acute care. Connect-Home was developed by Dr. Mark Toles at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The findings of this study demonstrate the scalability of innovative transition care practices that retrain post-acute care workers and proactively address social determinants of health to improve the quality of care for older adults.

For details, find the study in our Connect-Home resource library.


A Promise Made, A Promise Kept

March 18, 2020

Designated to advance strategic initiatives of our nationwide network, Lutheran Services in America’s “Realizing the Promise” fundraising campaign has surpassed its $500,000 goal! The campaign, scheduled to close June 30, 2020, grew ideas into dedicated action to change the lives of the one in 50 Americans our network cares for each year.

Through donors’ and member organizations’ incredible generosity throughout this campaign, our network strengthened Lutheran social ministry organizations to change the lives of 7,000 children through our Results Innovation Lab, via improvements like increased reading and graduation rates, and returning African American youth with their birth families, as well as decreased rates of teacher-student conflict; the number of times foster youth need to move to new homes; and arrest and re-arrest rates for over 700 youth of color.

Realizing the Promise also has meant making aggressive inroads in enabling seniors to live at home and in their community through our Connect-Home Learning Collaborative, committed to better preparing older adults to successfully transition home from post-acute care facilities. Importantly, the Realizing the Promise campaign also empowered us to bring together member organizations to successfully launch LSA Senior Connect, an innovative service model that connects seniors with chronic health conditions to needed resources in their communities, which already is delivering promising results in pilot stage with Genacross Lutheran Services.

This vital campaign’s success was bolstered through multi-year commitments from a wide range of people and organizations who share our commitment to the difference we can make – together – in the lives of so many people experiencing need in America. Thank you to the 39 member organizations who contributed dues above dues to support the campaign. Three leaders in particular from our network were among the first to step up and commit their support to Realizing the Promise, each of whose work ties to our key strategic areas of accelerating change, advocacy, and the power of networking:

Accelerating Change: Mark Pile, President & CEO of Diakon Lutheran Social Ministries

By working together across our network, we accomplish more than any one organization can by working on its own. As one of the first to step up and support the Realizing the Promise campaign, Diakon Lutheran Social Ministries President & CEO Mark Pile shares:

“I see my support and investment in Realizing the Promise as an opportunity to strengthen Lutheran social ministry across the U.S. The more we collectively work together – whether by sharing industry resources, lessons learned or creating new models to reach people with services who need them – the better the outcomes for the people we walk alongside. Our Lutheran tradition of service, for me, is grounded in the idea that the work we do at a local level is part of something bigger. Lutheran Services in America’s work to bring it together is not easy work, but brings great value to our organization and the people we serve here in Pennsylvania and Maryland.”

Advocacy: Linda Timmons, President and CEO of Mosaic

The voice of our faith-based network is more important now than ever. Mosaic President and CEO Linda Timmons shares her perspective:

“Strength in numbers has real meaning when it comes to amplifying our voice, our experience, and our collective expertise. Realizing the Promise has amped up Lutheran Services in America’s efforts with federal lawmakers and further honed their pulse on critical legislation affecting the one in 50 Americans we care for – lives ranging from children, youth and families to seniors, low-income individuals and people with disabilities. I’m grateful to everyone who joined Mosaic and me in supporting this campaign to advance our work as one national network, unleashing the power of our collective voice to advocate for policies affecting the one in 50 Americans we care for.”

The Power of Networking: Ted Goins, President & CEO of Lutheran Services Carolinas

Lutheran Services Carolinas President & CEO Ted Goins is a natural networker. He often brings ideas to Lutheran Services in America he thinks can benefit other members like a partnership with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which led to the launch of our Connect-Home program involving additional members. Ted shares:

“I invested in the Realizing the Promise campaign because I see the power of collaborating with my fellow Lutheran social ministry organizations, and the ability of Lutheran Services in America to bring us together and create national partnerships that take us further than any of us can go on our own. I’m inspired to be part of something bigger than any one person or organization, and all that is possible as we journey together.”

Families First Coronavirus Response Act Signed Into Law

March 20, 2020

On March 18, President Trump signed into law the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, legislation which aims to provide economic relief for individuals, businesses, and organizations impacted by COVID-19, including Lutheran Services in America member organizations. Among its other provisions, the law provides increased federal support for Medicaid spending during the pandemic in the form of a 6.2% emergency Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) increase to states. The FMAP is the federal portion of the total Medicaid expenditure for each state.

The law also institutes a temporary paid sick leave mandate, along with an expansion of family and medical leave provisions. Employers with fewer than 500 employees, including nonprofits, will be required to provide employees who are themselves sick or quarantining two weeks of fully paid sick leave, and 10 additional weeks of leave at two-thirds pay. Employees caring for others who are sick or children whose childcare services are closed must be paid at two-thirds of their regular pay for up to 12 weeks. Employers will be fully reimbursed for providing this leave via a refundable tax credit allowed against the employer portion of payroll taxes—thus benefitting nonprofits. Any paid leave costs that exceed the amount of payroll taxes owed will be refundable to the employer at the end of each quarter. Finally, the law suspends SNAP work requirements and provides free testing for COVID-19, $2 billion in unemployment assistance and $1 billion in food aid.

Another relief bill is currently being written in Congress, which is expected to include additional specific support for the nonprofit sector and individuals and families.

Today’s Frontline Hero: Allegheny Lutheran Social Ministries (ALSM) in Altoona, PA

March 24, 2020

Allegheny Lutheran Social Ministries (ALSM) in Altoona, PA is coming up with creative ways to keep their community connected to their important work. Their dedicated team has asked community members to make homemade masks out of fabric and, according to President and CEO Pat Savage, ALSM has received an outpouring of generosity! People from far and wide have donated masks to all three of ALSM’s campuses, helping protect the healthcare workers and those they serve. Individuals from the Altoona Community Theatre even switched their efforts from making costumes to making masks.

In addition to the masks, ALSM residents are receiving letters and artwork from children who are home from school. This demonstration of love and support from ALSM’s community is lifting spirits and connecting people, despite physical social distancing. To keep residents in contact with their loved ones, staff members at the Lutheran Homes are coordinating FaceTime and Skype calls. One of the residents was overjoyed to hear her son’s voice and to be able to tell him, “I love you!”

We are proud to recognize Allegheny Lutheran Social Ministries’ excellent work, as well as their generous community!

Today’s Frontline Hero: St. John’s United in Billings, MT

March 25, 2020

One of our members of Lutheran Services in America’s Great Plains Senior Services Collaborative, St. John’s United in Montana, has gone the extra mile in their communities to promote and create employment opportunities to help community members affected by COVID-19-related economic impact. David Trost, the organization’s President & CEO, posted this ad of solidarity in the Billings Gazette, and partnered with Montana Health Network to provide FREE at-home CNA training to help reduce the barrier to entry for workforce. Great teamwork from David, Taylor, Sarah, and the entire St John’s United team!

Today’s Front Line Hero: Lutheran SeniorLife in Mars, PA

March 26, 2020

Today’s Front Line Hero is Lutheran SeniorLife in Mars, PA, who put out a request for homemade masks from their community members. Lutheran SeniorLife is committed to protecting their staff and their residents, and is drawing on their community’s resources to fill gaps during the global shortage of personal protective equipment. Their slogan, “Make it fashionable, make it fun – as long as it’s cotton, you’ll help a ton!” inspires creativity and encourages the community to have fun with this valuable donation. Their website even includes video tutorials for making masks. We are proud to recognize Lutheran SeniorLife for their great work with senior adults and throughout their community!

UPDATE: Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act Signed into Law

March 26, 2020

Over 600 Lutheran Services in America member representatives reach out to Congress.

UPDATE: On March 27, 2020, President Trump  signed this bill into law.

On March 25, 2020, the U.S. Senate voted unanimously to approve the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (H.R. 748), a $2.2 trillion package meant to address the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the economy. This is the third and by far the largest to date in what is expected to be a series of additional such relief measures. A vote in the House of Representatives is expected on Friday (3/27) to finalize this legislation.

Particularly important for Lutheran Services in America members, the package makes available forgivable loans for small business with less than 500 employees per location that can be used to cover payroll support, such as employee salaries, paid sick or medical leave, insurance premiums, and mortgage, rent, and utility payments. The package also creates a low-interest loan program that can be used for larger nonprofits who employee between 500 and 10,000 employees. (Additional key details to come shortly.)

Over 600 Lutheran Services in America member representatives sent nearly 1,150 messages to their Senators and Representatives, at all hours of the day and night, calling for nonprofit organizations to be included in this relief package. This priority outreach from so many people in our network made an enormous difference, and we heartily thank everyone for their vital efforts and action during this critical time!

While this legislation is an important step forward, we emphasize that much work remains to help ensure that health and human service agencies working on the frontlines of this crisis have access to the equipment, supplies, and funding they need to help carry out their work helping so many people each day. Lutheran Services in America will continue to work closely with our federal partners in the coming days and months to help ensure the needs of our members and the people they serve are front and center.

We issued a statement shortly after the Senate vote, in which we emphasized these loans are a “crucial part of this third Congressional relief package, given how many nonprofits like our 300 health and human services organizations are on the frontlines fighting COVID-19.” You can read the full statement here.

Today’s Front Line Hero: Graceworks Lutheran Services

March 27, 2020

Today’s Front Line Hero is Graceworks Lutheran Services, (with 63 locations in Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky), who is going above and beyond to meet the holistic needs of residents and employees.

Graceworks is focused not only on keeping residents and employees safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but on making sure residents don’t feel isolated during this time. For example, staff at Bethany Village (Centerville, Ohio) are creating original programming on the senior living community’s internal television station for residents in independent and assisted living settings as well as long-term care, including exercise classes, mini concerts by talented staff, and frequent spiritual segments. Resident council meetings and regular updates also are being broadcast, all helping to lift the spirits of residents and keep them engaged, helping earn Bethany Village recognition from local media for their efforts to connect residents and family members during times when visitors aren’t allowed in licensed areas. Staff help residents utilize iPads and smartphones to connect with their loved ones, as well.

Staff at Graceworks Housing Services, providing affordable housing for income-qualified seniors or those with disabilities, is connecting residents with donors from the community who want to help in this time of need. At Messiah Community in Urbana, Ohio, a local restaurant owner delivered a shopping cart full of items to a resident who had no means of shopping for herself. The owner indicated he would be back as needed to make sure she has supplies so she can stay home during the pandemic.

And at Graceworks Enhanced Living, which provides homes for persons living with intellectual disabilities, staff is supporting one another by displaying ways to practice safe hygiene during the crisis. They also are encouraging residents to practice social distancing while still enjoying the warming weather.

The organization’s Human Resources staff are focused on making sure employees practice self-care as well. Graceworks has adopted a motto of SHINE, for Supporting the Holistic and Individual Needs of Employees. Regular messages are being sent to employees thanking them for their valuable and selfless service, for doing the right things to keep everyone safe, and providing information on ways to focus on all areas of holistic health.

Lutheran Services in America is proud of the holistic care our member organizations like Graceworks are providing. We’re glad to recognize them for their valuable efforts today!

Today’s Front Line Hero: Mount Olivet Rolling Acres

March 30, 2020

Today’s Front Line Hero is Tracy Murphy, President of Mount Olivet Rolling Acres in Minnesota. Tracy recognizes the funding challenges non-profits are facing as they aim to continue their important services amidst the COVID-19 outbreak. She called on her network to contribute to their favorite non-profits NOW, and ensure their gifts are unrestricted so they can be used where they are needed most. Tracy practices what she preaches and generously doubled her yearly donor advised fund allocation.

Mount Olivet Rolling Acres continues to care for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities during the pandemic. The staff are pitching in however they can, with the executive team delivering craft supplies and making face masks, and doctors helping disinfect the work space. Great work Tracy, and all the staff at Mount Olivet Rolling Acres for your generosity, flexibility with job descriptions, and recognition that we are all in this together.

Today’s Front Line Hero: Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska

March 31, 2020

Today’s Frontline Hero is Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska, which is going the extra mile to communicate effectively with their community during the coronavirus pandemic. LFS of Nebraska created an 800 phone number for their clients and those seeking telehealth mental health services during this challenging time They increased telehealth therapy capacity by more than a hundredfold in less than 24 hours to ensure everyone could continue their therapy, and to manage additional mental health needs as community anxiety over the pandemic grows.

As part of the organization’s efforts to promote expanded telehealth services, LFS of Nebraska sent 7,000 letters to clients in language used in the home. The Global Language Solutions team assembled interpreters who went to work translating LFS of Nebraska’s communications, along with CDC-issued materials and information on how to stay safe during the pandemic. They also published videos in 14 languages on their YouTube channel to disseminate information about the coronavirus to typically marginalized communities. Some of the languages include Somali, Kiswahili, Kinyarwanda, Kurdish, Spanish, Burmese, Nepali, and more. Notably, the Ohio Department of Health discovered these helpful videos and is using them for their own community outreach efforts.

LFS of Nebraska also is developing virtual town hall information sessions in a variety of languages, launching a podcast, and will soon release a short video series to help people stay informed and stay connected.

Thank you, Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska, for your unflagging commitment to serving your community, and for making the extra effort to communicate this crucial health information to so many people!