Category: Miscellaneous

My summer with Diakon

My name is Maddie Freeman, and I am a rising senior at Penn State in State College, Pennsylvania. I am studying Corporate Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Smeal College of Business. I am planning on entering the nonprofit sector to work in development or going full-time with my sustainable clothing business, Grit & Grace Thrifts. In my free time, I love hanging out with friends, cooking, going on walks with my dog, thrifting, and traveling. 

For eight weeks this past summer, I was given the opportunity to be Diakon’s corporate communications department intern, and for that, I am so grateful. During that time, I enjoyed getting to take the lead on the Family Connections newsletter. This was the main project I worked on during my time, and my favorite part of that was interviewing four different Diakon Adoption & Foster Care families. Getting to interact with them and read their stories about how their families came to be was especially inspiring.

This was my first time working directly in a large nonprofit, and it was an eye-opening experience. My previous experience was with nonprofits that only had a handful of employees, so working for Diakon was a change of pace.

I was pleasantly surprised at how helpful and responsive the staff was when I asked for stories or photos to help me with my projects, and it really did emphasize how much this organization operates as a team. Since I am interested in working full-time for a nonprofit after I graduate from Penn State, it was very beneficial for me to see a snippet of how a large organization works.

I learned some of the skills that seem to be important for a job in communications are articulate writing abilities, being organized, staying on top of projects and deadlines, and being flexible. Since I was really at the mercy of others to respond to me so that I could complete most of my projects, I learned that something as simple as including a deadline request in an email was really important for getting a timely response. Regardless of where I end up in my career, I think these skills that I was able to develop this summer will be extremely beneficial to me.

The main takeaway from my internship with Diakon was that nonprofits really are a team, and in order to succeed, everyone needs to cooperate and help one another. Each staff member is furthering the mission in some way, so by being flexible and helping one another, the clients of Diakon receive excellent care and service. I am so grateful to have had this opportunity.

Spreading joy abroad and at home

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

This Maya Angelou quote is something I heard early in my career working with long-term care and memory care residents that continues to touch my heart. Many of my residents do not remember the activities or special programs that I provide to help enhance their quality of life, but they do remember how they made them feel: happy, joyful, reflective, peaceful, calm, etc. 

It was with that understanding in mind that I spent 2 1/2 weeks in September in Zambia, a country landlocked at the crossroads of central, southern, and east Africa. The trip was possible thanks in part to Diakon’s Love of Our Neighbor Fund. With its support, I benefited from five extra vacation days and a 10-day stipend. 

Olympic connection

Joenel Torrillo, NHA, MHA, BSN, RN, PT, CEEAA, executive director of Manatawny Manor in Pottstown, has an extra special interest in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. That is because his sister, Ma. Janelyn Fundal, Ph.D. of Iloilo Province, Philippines, is an umpire – commonly called referee – of the badminton tournament. Though Joenel doesn’t think his sister will “pass the torch” to him in the future to be an umpire, Joenel says he does “have a passion for badminton and has played competitive tournaments before.”

Joenel, commonly called Joe by residents and staff, has been an Executive Director/ Nursing Home Administrator of Manatawny Manor for the past 17 months, just two weeks before the COVID-19 shutdowns.

He shared a little bit about his sister’s experiences with us.

My sister, Ma. Janelyn Fundal, Ph.D. is the current sports director of Iloilo Province, Philippines.

It’s been a long process – 10 to 15 years – for her to gain all the accreditations and certifications needed to be a referee in the Olympics. She had to pass the written and practical examinations for both Badminton Asia Accreditation and Certification, and Badminton World Federation Accreditation and Certification.

Don’t let your “but” stop you

Cayden Roth, 12, launched a fundraising campaign from mid-January to mid-February, netting $2,000 for Diakon Adoption & Foster Care and the Diakon Youth Scholarship fund.

Cayden was placed with his forever family, Lori and Stephen Roth, through Diakon at 13 monthshis adoption was finalized in 2011. 

“Cayden has a history of fundraising for our program and donating other supplies to our children in care,” says Joyce Riche, M.A., director of permanency services at Diakon Adoption & Foster Care’s Topton office.

In commemoration of the 10-year anniversary of his adoption finalization, Cayden had wanted to donate some of his own money to Diakon. He and his mother discussed the idea and decided that if he invested some of his own money, he could make enough to donate even more. So he used $250 to buy 25 signs. He sold all of them, for a total of $500, within a half-hour of his initial Facebook post. He then bought 100 more to sell. Cayden did most of the delivery and installation of the signs himself. The signs proclaimed: “You Are Loved – Happy Valentine’s Day!” and “Foster Love” with a pair of cupids.

Recently, Scott Habecker, Diakon president/CEO,  hosted Cayden and his mother for a thank-you lunch. Below, Cayden recounts their discussion.

​One of the good things Scott and I talked about was the importance of stewardship. When you’re in charge of collecting money to help someone else, you have to be mindful that most of the money collected goes to help who you want to help.

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…

Preventing deaths that are preventable

In the early days of my career, I remember hearing stories that made me question whether behavioral health was really for me. As mental health and substance abuse professionals, we see and hear a lot.

Ultimately, though, I realized that helping people in their darkest moments comes with a heavy weight but not an unbearable one. Soon, I was getting used to hearing stories that, before, I wouldn’t have fathomed could be true.

“Used to” seems an odd way to put it, but I do not know how else to say it. As therapists, we get used to hearing stories of trauma, used to late-night calls from an individual in crisis, used to advocating for change and then hearing why change didn’t occur. We gladly take on these challenges.

What we don’t get used to is people dying.