What support comes with adopting in Pennsylvania?

In Pennsylvania, there are more children and youths with special needs waiting to be adopted than children adopted through traditional programs. Yet the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has a lot of support in place, from financial assistance to continuing advocacy and counseling to help make these adoptions not only feasible but also extremely rewarding. 

In addition to its direct service, Diakon manages Pennsylvania’s Statewide Adoption & Permanency Network (SWAN), a network of robust support from the many groups and individuals involved in foster care and adoption.

Every child deserves an advocate

​AJ came into our home Dec. 14 of last year, so it wasn’t quite yet Christmas, but he was our most wonderful gift nonetheless.

In fact, he had claimed a place in our hearts even before he arrived in our home.

​My husband, Alan, and I were open to fostering a child with mild needs. Our two oldest children have epilepsy and we have seen firsthand the importance of parent advocacy. However, we didn’t want to take on too much.

​Then came AJ. He is a medically fragile child with cystic fibrosis who was born very prematurely and has a gastric tube.

​AJ, 3, lived in the hospital until he came to live with us at our home in New Freedom, York County. It was heartbreaking. 

Why independent living enhances life

Many people think of retirement as a time to truly live life.

You’ve spent years working, caring for children, potentially even caring for your grandchildren and spending your time serving the community. When it comes time to retire, many older adults often want to take some time to do what they love, explore passions and focus on everything they’ve been wanting to do for years.

At an independent living community such as those Diakon offers, we understand this fact, so we provide opportunities and amenities to enable residents to have the freedom to do as they please, every day.

Focus on hobbies and passions—because of the freedom you’ll have!

Our independent living lifestyle allows residents to be as busy, as relaxed and as adventurous as they wish. Click here for just a few of the ways we ensure our residents have more time to focus on their interests and hobbies.

Tips that can help you get hired

In the first part of this blog post, we discussed ways to approach applications and resumes, as well as steps not to take. In this final part, we review how employers tend to evaluated applicants.

Besides your resume or application, employers use various other evaluation tools to determine if someone would be a good asset to the company. 

These tools may include screening for minimum and preferred qualifications, phone or Zoom interviews before an in-person one, reference and background checks and employee referrals. 

Another popular screening mechanism some potential employers now use is a review of your social media pages, a good reason to review that potential post before you make it. Will something posted in an emotional moment come back to affect you later? 

Job hunting? Start here…

You may have experienced this situation yourself: You apply for a job and you, one, never hear from the potential employer again; two, receive a form letter indicating the position has been filled; or, three, are interviewed but don’t receive an offer.

Disconcerting and disappointing, right?

As Diakon’s Human Resources recruiters, we want to offer some tips to help you potentially experience better results. 

Most important, you need to understand the qualities and skills an employer is seeking, so that you can stand out in a crowded field. 

For example, many employers look for skills beyond the academic qualifications of candidates. Prospective employees may share similar education and experience, but how they present those as ways to make the company more successful can create a huge difference in initial perceptions. 

In fact, incorporate that approach in your resume or application. Learn about the company and the open position and then determine ways your particular skills will successfully address the needs listed for that position. Emphasize your value and efficiency.

And, certainly, never rush through this process or omit details. (And a very simple caution: If you use the same cover letter for multiple applications, make sure you change the name of the company and job title. You would not believe how often people send cover letters addressed to a different organization!) 

These are key characteristics we seek on applications and resumes:

  • Summary statement 
  • Clear section headings
  • Use of correct grammar
  • Elaboration of core competencies (the attributes that make you stand out from other applicants)
  • Strong work experience, including names of organizations, employment dates and job titles
  • Length of work experience

Alternatively, here are “red flags” that will stand out to potential employers in an application:

  • Applications with spelling mistakes
  •  A suspicious work history
  •  Incomplete fields
  •  Inclusion of negative statements about previous employers 
  •  Indicating you left a job because of an unresolved disagreement. 

In addition, if you receive an interview, here are common missteps: 

  • Arriving late
  • Not having done research on the company
  • Looking at phone or texting during the interview
  •  Any other lack of attention during the interview 
  • Gossiping or making negative comments about former managers or employees
  • Showing a lack of understanding about the industry 
  • Not being able to explain why you are interested in the job

Remember, an interview is an excellent opportunity to showcase how your experience, education and initiative will make a difference for the employer. That’s why doing your research about the company and the role are so important!

Part 2 (coming): How employers evaluate applicants.

By: Christa Corum & Chip King, Diakon recruiters

It takes a village…

The Rev. Dr. Colleen Kristula, chaplain at a Diakon senior living community, has written a number of blog posts with reflections on the past year. This is one of those reflections, important as we note the one-year anniversary of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

I am thankful for the community that surrounds our campus, and the ways they have supported us through this long, oh-so-long journey.  

From the hand-made signs thanking our staff to the flamingos (we were “flocked”) to gifts of food and “Happy cards” and musicians standing in cornfields to sing and play.  

And oh, the pop-up parade that, with the help of area churches and organizations and school district, brought more than 60 cars, fire trucks and other emergency vehicles to our campus, decorated, with honking and hooting and smiles, to cheer our residents.  Too many kindnesses to name them all, but so appreciated.

Are fat-free and sugar-free products better for you?

As a registered dietitian, I am often asked a lot of health- and diet-related questions by friends and family members. 

Two of the more common ones are:·         

Are artificial sweeteners better for you than real sugar?

Which fats are “good” fats?  

Eating a healthy diet includes all food groups; our bodies need carbohydrates, fats and protein to function properly and the right mix is key. So can fat-free and low-fat products aid in keeping ourselves fit and healthy? 

Absolutely! 

However, paying attention to labels is key. Because something labeled low-fat may not be a magic bullet.  

The social benefits of a senior living community

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll not only on health but also on people’s ability to socialize.

We’ve taken extensive steps at all our senior living communities to provide as much socialization as possible while focused as well on keeping everyone safe. Nevertheless, we look forward to the time soon when we can resume more “normal” activities.

That’s particularly important because something most people recognize about senior living communities is that socialization and connections are key to creating this ideal environment for older people.

Connecting with others and remaining social have many advantages; in fact, most older adults find that living alone at home simply doesn’t provide opportunities for them to meet new people, explore their passions, enjoy the company of others or live the lifestyle they want to enjoy.

At a senior living community, there are many ways people can achieve the benefits of socialization, allowing for a happy, healthy and social life!

If you or a loved one are looking into making the move to a senior living community—particularly now that vaccinations are beginning to take hold and we are offering safety-focused in-person tours—I hope you will consider some of the social benefits residents enjoy on a daily basis!

You can meet an array of new people. When moving to and living in a senior living community, you can be introduced to different types of people who have similar life experiences or very different ones. From seniors just like you to people who enjoy other interests, the opportunities are endless.

Click here to read more about the social benefits of a senior living community…

How to choose the perfect memory care community

Mark and Sarah both noticed the same thing.

It was just after Christmas several years ago when Sarah’s mother called one of her grandchildren by the wrong name.

It was just an honest slip-up, they thought.

But more memory-related concerns arose after that one incident and, eventually, they knew Sarah’s mother, who was widowed, would soon need some type of memory care. They were coming to fear for her safety as she continued to live alone.

Many families quickly become overwhelmed in looking for the best memory-care options. That’s understandable; there are many options and resources available.

But all of us at Diakon Senior Living Services stand ready as experts in senior care to help you review your options and make an informed decision.

Be sure to tour a variety of programs and communities. While proximity to you may be very important, the types of services your loved one requires may not be available as close as you hope, so be open to reviewing all communities, even if they are not as close as you prefer. However, be sure also consider the impact longer-distance travel can have.

To read more tips about how to choose a memory care facility, please click here.