A fun way to give back…Dining with Diakon

Jill Kearney, founder and CEO of Senior Moves by Design (a division of the JDK Group, LLC), shares her views on the upcoming Dining with Diakon* event. Senior Moves by Design is a company that primarily moves older adults into senior living communities, helping them to find “treasures” and design their new home around things they love. The company also helps them to sort through their current home so items can be given to family or donated. Further, they stage houses to sell and do a full pack and unpack on moving day.

*On Sept. 28, 12 “celebrity chefs” from business, industry, and non-profit organizations will gather at Bethlehem’s SteelStacks. Offering an enticing menu of dishes and desserts, the chefs raise funds for Diakon Adoption & Foster Care, which serves children and families throughout eastern and central Pennsylvania.

Foster-To-Adopt: God Knew My Heart Needed You

In this post, Lydia Carfagno, an adoptive parent, shares her difficult two-year journey that led to one of the greatest joys of her life—motherhood. She adopted her now-4-year-old son, Trevor, through Diakon Adoption & Foster Care’s legal-risk (foster-to-adopt) program. Legal-risk placements involve children and youths who are in the custody of a county’s children and youth services. Children are placed in foster homes with the intent of reuniting them with their birth families; however, if that does not occur, the foster family often seeks to adopt the child or youth.

Why Foster-To-Adopt?

As I was growing up, my mother worked and volunteered at a crisis pregnancy center. As a small child, I witnessed my mother counseling women and providing them with the necessary resources to maintain their pregnancy. When I was young, I would tell my mother that I wanted to grow up and take care of babies that did not have mommies and open my own orphanage. I remember frequently checking our front door to see if someone left me a baby to care for!

Fast forward: I grew up and obtained a college degree in recreational therapy. As a therapist, I worked in various pediatric hospitals. Throughout my work experience, I witnessed firsthand many children suffering from neglect, abuse and trauma. Each of these children made my desire to adopt grow even stronger; however I knew I was not currently in the position to do that.

Upon marrying, adoption was something we always said we would do “one day.” We struggled to get pregnant and even experienced a life-threatening ectopic pregnancy. The topic of adoption that was once on the back burner quickly became a burning desire in my heart.

It was something I believed had to happen immediately. Because of my experience in the health-care field, I was aware of “foster-to-adopt” type programs and I quickly began researching agencies.

Quality adult day care hits a homerun

Blog posts come in all shapes and sizes … sometimes they are personal reflections or ruminations on various topics … at other times, they tell a story, often to demonstrate a key point … at other times, they express heartfelt appreciation for how someone has been helped … as in this recent example:

To the staff of Diakon Adult Day Services at Ravenwood:

I wanted to send you a thank you on behalf of my family for the wonderful care you provide for my father, Robert “Bob” Wilson. I wonder if you know just how much the work you do is valued and how important it is to so many? Daily you have a positive impact on so many lives.

Many Hands. One Heart. Service Excellence.

Someone recently asked me about the importance of various roles within a senior living community.

My immediate response arose from my knowledge of 1 Corinthians: “Just as a body, though one, has many parts … all its many parts form one body … there should be no division in the body, but … its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.”

In other words, every role is equally important, every staff member critical to the quality service we provide.

The question dovetailed so nicely with our new customer service program at Diakon—Many Hands. One Heart. Service Excellence.—I felt compelled to write about it. One part of that program guides staff members toward the understanding that, no matter what our role is, we are all equally important to our mission. We cannot accomplish our goals any other way!

Choosing words wisely

I am not a fan of political correctness. We have come far astray of the general knowledge that “sticks and stones….” Moreover, the limitations prompted by overzealous word-watchers can sometimes affect the ability to communicate freely and clearly.

However, I also recognize that while words may not physically injure us, they can hurt and often can rob people of dignity.

For example, I often ask students in a class I teach what is wrong with the phrase “the Alzheimer’s sufferer” or “the wheelchair-bound man.”

Know the answer?

Both phrases define people by a characteristic or condition. It’s far better in these cases to write or say “the man with Alzheimer’s disease” or “the woman who uses a wheelchair.”

Consumer Satisfaction – A few lessons learned

Doing a survey always begins with a bit of trepidation. What will the responses be? Will there even be responses? If we receive responses, will they be good or bad?

At Diakon, however, we are committed to customer service and so we are always very willing to put aside those trepidations and ask: How are we doing?

Within Diakon Child, Family & Community Ministries, we recently conducted several satisfaction surveys of the organizations and individuals referring consumers to us for service. In addition, each year we conduct a retrospective review of all the consumer and referral source concerns we’ve received throughout the year.

woman standing back to camera

Ceilings and floors

I am 47 years old and have never owned a passport.

True, I have been out of the country to places in the Caribbean but that was back in the days when you could go on a cruise or fly to certain regions with just a birth certificate.

In fact, I had not even gotten on a plane until I was nearly 20 years old. We just didn’t have much money when I was growing up to take exotic trips overseas and in my younger years I was not much of a risk-taker. Even now, I’d prefer a trip to Disney’s Epcot over going to actual countries because I do not enjoy flying at all!

A few weeks ago, I had dinner with a very wise friend who said something that has stuck with me since then. We were talking about our young-adult kids and the things they are all doing and she said, “I want my ceiling to be their floor and I haven’t even reached my ceiling yet!”

What a great way of looking at how we prepare our children for adulthood!

Take a chance!

It’s been my experience that the finest moments in life happen when you take a chance, whether it be confronting a fear head-on or setting a goal that you believe is beyond your reach but deciding to tackle it anyway.

The first annual Diakon Outdoor Adventure Challenge 5K Trail Run/Walk in 2012 initiated a series of shining moments that resulted from taking a chance, both for me and others.

I first heard of the race when I received a poster in the mail at my business, Train Yard Gym & Fitness. The event set itself apart from other 5Ks we had been asked to advertise because it included use of a high-ropes course, zip-line and Alpine Tower at the Diakon Wilderness Center after the race.

I was quickly sold on the concept of a beautiful trail run, lots of adventure-focused activities afterwards and the fact that my entry fee would help the at-risk youths the Diakon Wilderness Center serves. I pulled together a group of 10 runners and hikers that year and we were off to see what this was all about.

That first race day unexpectedly turned into an opportunity for me to take a chance. I had been looking forward to the race for months, but a few days before the event I started having hip pain and honestly didn’t know if I could run. I decided to go for it anyway and ended up coming in first place among the females.

Was I ever happy that I didn’t let my fears hold me back!

GOTR(1)

Going the extra mile

This blog shares the story of how Diakon Adoption & Foster Care staff members went the extra mile to help adoptees participate in Girls on the Run®, a non-profit program that inspires girls to recognize their inner strengths and celebrate what makes them unique.

As an affiliate council of Diakon Child, Family & Community Ministries, Girls on the Run – Lehigh Valley delivers sessions involving 10 weeks of dynamic discussions, activities and running games for girls in third through fifth grades, with each season concluding with a celebratory 5K event, completed by participants and “running buddies.”

JoAnn Carter, mother of two adoptive girls (Daysia 11, Jada 9)

My interest in Girls on the Run began when my girls brought home a flyer from Parkway Manor elementary school announcing the program. I thought it would get them off the couch and give them a well-rounded opportunity that teaches them confidence. I also thought it would be great to have the girls be part of a running team.