Were you aware that Lutherans are the largest faith- based group serving seniors? Over 20% of the senior residential living units in the top 100 nonprofit providers is a member of LSA. Of our network of 300 Lutheran social ministry organizations, about 200 of them provide services to seniors. These services help seniors live a fuller, more abundant life through a continuum of services that range from in-home services to senior housing, rehabilitation, respite care and senior centers.
Recently, Lutheran Services in America Disability Network (LSA-DN) had the privilege of hosting 30 self-advocates, family members, direct support staff and program staff from Bethesda Lutheran Communities, Filling Homes, KenCrest, Lutheran Family Services of Virginia, Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota and Mosaic for our second "Speak Up! Self-Advocate Training" in Washington, DC.
The LSA Disability Network (LSA-DN) is a nationwide association of Lutheran social ministry organizations, faith-based organizations and Lutheran professionals who support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. To date, LSA-DN includes 25 member organizations that provide support to more than 150,000 individuals, in 32 states and the Virgin Islands.
Earlier this month I was lucky enough to represent LSA at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Youth Gathering in Detroit, Michigan. The gathering brought together close to 30,000 youth, adults and volunteers from across the world to serve, reflect and raise awareness on issues like water, poverty, homelessness, hunger, disabilities, among others. I don’t think I have ever been in an event of this magnitude. From main gatherings at Ford Field Center to experiencing part of the Proclaim Community and Proclaim Justice activities, inspiration and impact radiated from every corner of the gathering.
Imagine the energy, collective wisdom and ideas that came together when 17 LSA senior services providers met in Washington DC on July 17 to envision how wellness and care could be redefined to improve the lives of older Americans. As the largest faith-based non-profit group serving older adults in the United States, representing close to 200 Lutheran social ministry organizations that offer senior care, the LSA network has provided a broad range of care and support for seniors from all walks of life in all types of communities for decades.
I'm a fan of alliteration as well as a fan of exploring new cities. In early July, I had the opportunity to visit Minneapolis for a couple of days with my colleague Alesia Frerichs, the Vice President of Member Engagement for our network. Our trip was in anticipation of next year's LSA Annual Conference, and we had the fortune to meet with some of our members and partners as we prepare for a great event.
I wasn't familiar with LSA's work when I originally read the Member Engagement Director position description, but I knew all I needed to know after visiting LSA's website and reading the member stories featured as part of Foster Care Month. Since I've come on board three weeks ago, I've been welcomed with open arms by both the LSA staff and its members, and I can't tell you how excited and honored I am to be here serving our members – you all are truly doing amazing work.
What happens when you bring 12 Lutheran Social Ministry organizations together in partnership with the Annie E. Casey Foundation? The first week in June in Sacramento, I was blessed to observe that what you get is a lot of ideas, support and information exchange that leads to organizational changes and transformation.