Foster Grandparent Volunteer Appreciation Special Deliveries

Under normal circumstances, this would be the time of year when Lutheran’s Foster Grandparents, teachers and other school support staff from the area would come together for a celebration of service to children and families in the community. Unfortunately, temporary changes had to be made to this year’s volunteer appreciation activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a replacement, staff from Lutheran Senior Housing and Foster Grandparent offices delivered no-contact thank you gifts to all volunteers outside of their homes.

“All of our foster grandparents were very excited to see us again,” said Brenda Weiler, Project Coordinator for the Lutheran Foster Grandparent Program. “We all felt honored to do this for them after everything they have done for us. We recognized over forty volunteers this year,” said Weiler. The volunteer gifts included a platter of bread and cookies made by Elegant Edibles Catering, fruit, candy, a flashlight, and a gift card.

The Lutheran Foster Grandparent Program is part of the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency focused on volunteering, service, and civic engagement. The CNCS engages millions of Americans in citizen service through several Senior Corps programs.

“Our foster grandparents are local, senior citizen volunteers placed under the direction and supervision of an assigned teacher or site supervisor at our area schools,” said Weiler. “They establish a one-on-on relationship with a child in need of extra help and provide guidance in and out of the classroom. Volunteers help the students with their learning and help the teachers with special focus areas within the classroom,” she said. Foster grandparents frequently help improve students’ literacy skills like writing or reading as well as provide assistance with other subjects.

The Lutheran Foster Grandparent Program services Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, and Allegheny Counties. The program is actively searching for new recruits to serve in local schools when restrictions are lifted to do so. To qualify, volunteers must be 55 years of age or older and have an interest in serving and guiding students in a classroom setting in their own community.

FGP Thank You Deliveries 2020

Lutheran Senior Housing and Foster Grandparent staff helped package and deliver the volunteer appreciation gifts using no-contact drop-offs and personal protective equipment for safety. Pictured from left: Tiffany Erhard, Senior Project Support Coordinator, Karen Pfeffer, Clerical Assistant, Kevin Saff, Director, Patricia Fitzgerald, Financial Counselor, and Brenda Weiler, Project Coordinator.

HP Resident Celebrates 103rd Birthday Remotely

During the Novel Coronavirus outbreak, it has been a challenge for seniors in assisted living programs and skilled nursing facilities to connect with family and friends in the community or across the country. At the Hultquist Place Assisted Living Program, donated Chromebook laptops are now available for use by residents to video chat with their loved ones. One resident in particular, Ruth Anderson, used technology to celebrate her 103rd birthday with her family last week.

“Oh, they can hear me?” said Anderson, as her son, daughter-in-law, grandchildren and great grandchildren began to fill the screen for their call. A resident of Hultquist Place Assisted Living Program since 2012, Ruth turned 103 this past week. A milestone like this would normally be celebrated with friends, family, and lots of group photos, but strict social distancing precautions and fear of the unknown have prevented that from happening this year.

Three Chromebook laptops were provided to Hultquist Place by the Iroquois Healthcare Association through their Workforce Investment Organization established in 2018. The devices are primarily used for training purposes to enhance the skills of care providers. In the wake of visitation restrictions being placed on senior care communities across the state and region due to the current public health crisis, IHA WIO reconfigured the devices to be used to connect residents with the outside world. The program is done at no cost to Hultquist Place residents or staff. The Chromebook laptops are loaded with Facebook Messenger, Skype, Google Hangout, and Zoom.

“It brought me a lot of joy to see the expression on Ruth’s face and how happy it made her that she was able to see and hear her family on her birthday,” said Candra Roach, Activities Director at Hultquist Place. “I’m thankful that we are able to offer this as an option for Ruth and others to connect with their loved ones. I’m also thankful to IHA WIO for their flexibility and willingness to make these devices available for other uses,” said Roach. The Chromebook laptops have been easy for the residents to use and the activities staff has been available to assist when needed.

Similar efforts have been made across campus at the Lutheran Home and Rehabilitation Center. A secure video conferencing room is now available to nursing home residents who wish to communicate with friends and family off campus, plus special arrangements are also made for those who must stay in their rooms.

“We have had a lot of residents use this feature to talk to their family,” said Erin Carlson, Activities Director at the Lutheran Home and Rehabilitation Center. “One resident in particular is receiving Hospice care which makes the current state of the world even harder for that family. This resident has been able to talk with their family and it has made a huge difference for them and others,” said Carlson.

The efforts made by the staff at both facilities to facilitate video chatting, phone calls, and coordinate care package deliveries has made a great impact on residents struggling with the emotional effects of social distancing.

New Family Takeout Meals for Lutheran Employees

With everyone’s nerves on high alert as the Novel Coronavirus continues to sweep through New York State, Senior Leadership at the Lutheran Campus in Jamestown have made sure to pay extra attention to the staff and their needs during this time of uncertainty. As a healthcare facility, nursing homes are considered an “essential business” so all staff report to work as usual, regardless of which department they work in.

“The COVID-19 public health crisis we’re facing as a society is unprecedented,” said Tom Holt, President and CEO for Lutheran. “Though our mission is to protect our residents from harm’s way at all times, we know there are some scary realities many of our staff are personally facing while not at work. Childcare, food access and meal planning, layoffs of loved ones, and other issues are plaguing our community and nation so we want to help them wherever we can,” said Holt.

Though recruitment of nursing staff remains a top priority, the Human Resources Department at Lutheran has become a hub of information on how employees can help their affected family members file for unemployment, find child care solutions in the community, information on Lutheran’s Employee Assistance Program and the SAFER program offered through The Resource Center, as well as other resources needed to supplement their altered daily life. To help ease the tension from a nutritional standpoint, Lutheran created a new program to help employees get access to meals for their families.

“We’ve all seen the store shelves and watched people hoard food during this time. It is putting a significant burden on our workers, especially those with young families. Many of them are putting in extra time to care for our residents and cannot make it to the store immediately after their shift. By then, many food supplies they need are gone,” said Holt. “As a company, we are fortunate enough to have access to food resources that others do not, so we’ve created Family Takeout Meals that our employees can sign up for regardless of position or income,” he said. The Family Takeout Meals are available free to all staff on Thursday of each week. The three-course meals feed up to four people and range from pasta and meatballs to roast turkey and stuffing. Lutheran’s Dietary Department created the new meal plan that over 175 employees took advantage of in week one. The program will continue until community workforce bans and travel restrictions are lifted.

From a wellness perspective, employees can also participate in Guided Meditation during their lunch breaks with the nursing home’s Music Therapist.

“Meditation and music is good for the body. It helps decrease stress and strengthens our immune systems,” said Elizabeth Dooher, NMT, MT-BC, Music Therapist at Lutheran. “In our short mindfulness sessions, we¬¬ scan areas of our body for discomfort, release any areas of tension, and allow the music to help us relax,” said Dooher. The sessions incorporate social distancing requirements where necessary. Dooher is also working to create Guided Meditation MP3 files for staff to listen to while not at work or who cannot make it during their break times.

“Our employees are the miracle workers here, going to extraordinary lengths for our residents and finding a sense of solidarity in the process. We have an obligation to protect them and their wellbeing just as much as our residents, and our entire leadership and management team is committed to doing that in the face of adversity,” said Holt.

Hultquist Place Holds St. Joseph’s Table

With chaos currently surrounding the daily lives of everyone in the country, the staff at the Hultquist Place Assisted Living Program in Jamestown have been making sure to provide a sense of normalcy for their residents whenever they can!

While still maintaining social distance and infection prevention measures, the staff of Hultquist Place held their annual St. Joseph’s Table luncheon for their residents on Wednesday afternoon. The treats, biblical stories, and laughs were a welcome distraction from everything going on around them. Chef Carm Vullo, the dietary department, clinical staff, and Pastor Dan Rumfelt helped make the annual event happen once again.

EDGEucation Series: Three Phases of Healing – March 18 CANCELLED


The Edgewood Communities at Lutheran have announced a new series of educational programs open to the community at the Edgewood Commons beginning in March. The new “EDGEucation Series” will bring trusted leaders and professionals from around the community to one convenient location to share information on a wide range of fun and educational topics.

The first program in the series, “3 Phases of Healing”, will be held on Wednesday, March 18, at 6:00 pm. The program is free and open to the public but RSVP is required due to limited seating. The program’s run time is estimated to be 60 minutes.

“We’re excited to relaunch our free community programming and even more excited to host them in our brand new space at the Edgewood Commons,” said Edwin Rodriguez Jr., Director of Public Relations and Marketing for Lutheran. “This is a really great topic to start with and is something all age groups can benefit learning from,” said Rodriguez.

3 Phases of Healing is presented by Jennifer Merchant, an AADP Board Certified Holistic Health Practitioner and Clinical Nutritionist working for Barkstrom Natural Health in Jamestown.

“To heal yourself, you have to understand how you got where you are in the first place,” said Merchant. “In our workshop, attendees will learn why the body starts breaking down and how they can reverse that process to regain energy, slow down the aging process, and heal naturally,” she said. Attendees are welcome to bring questions with them for after the program.

Jennifer Merchant, AADP Board Certified Holistic Health Practitioner and Clinical Nutritionist

Senior Life Matters to Host Free Seminar on Medicare Special Enrollment Periods

Janell Sluga and Tiffany Erhard from the Senior Life Matters program at Lutheran will be hosting a free seminar in February on Medicare Special Enrollment Periods. The program, titled “Medicare Special Enrollment Periods: What is so special about them?” will be held on Thursday, February 13 from 3-5:00 pm at the new Edgewood Commons located at 737 Falconer Street.

“For people in the community with Medicare insurance, it can be difficult at times to know when it is ok to switch insurance products,” said Janell Sluga, Geriatric Care Manager with Senior Life Matters. “At this program, we will review and take questions from the attendees,” said Sluga. Other topics to be discussed at the seminar include Medicare Advantage Plan enrollment periods, Medicare Part B enrollment periods, and new Special Enrollment Periods available to Medicare subscribers in 2020.

To register for this free program or to learn more about Senior Life Matters, visit or call 716-665-8199.

Lutheran offers a continuum of care that supports an individual’s journey through life with compassion, dignity, and respect.

Senior Life Matters to host FREE seminar on Medicare and VA Benefits

Janell Sluga and Tiffany Erhard from the Senior Life Matters program at Lutheran will be hosting a free seminar this month on Medicare and VA Benefits. The program is co-hosted by the Chautauqua County Veteran’s Service Agency. Medicare and VA Benefits: Working Together for You will be held on January 14 from 3-5:00 pm at the new Edgewood Commons located at 737 Falconer Street.

“We are often asked about where Medicare and VA Benefits meet, overlap, or become counterproductive, so we thought it would be a good idea to get this information out in a clear, organized way,” said Janell Sluga, Geriatric Care Manager with Senior Life Matters. “We will cover a wide range of topics and we always encourage the community to come prepared with their own questions. Some questions we know the answers to and others we will find the answers to,” said Sluga.

Original Medicare, Part D, and Medicare Supplement Plans will be discussed briefly followed by a discussion on VA benefit offerings. Whether veterans need Medicare coverage, especially in place of or alongside other VA healthcare offerings such as Tricare for Life or ChampVA, will be discussed in detail as well. Veterans covered in NON-veteran settings and resources available locally will also be discussed.

To register for this free program, CLICK HERE or call 716-665-8199.

For information on veteran services in Chautauqua County, visit

Supply Drive Benefits Our Local Blue Star Mothers

On December 4, our employees held a supply drive to benefit our local Blue Star Mothers Lake Erie Chapter. In exchange for a dress down day at work, employees brought in donations to be included in care packages that will be sent to soldiers overseas during the holidays. This is a small snapshot of the donations that came in… over 1,000 items in total were donated in one day! Blue Star Mothers are mothers who now have, or have had, children honorably serving in the military. The organization is a nonprofit 501c3 veterans service organization supporting military children while promoting patriotism. To learn how you too can participate and donate, call 716-499-6897.

Residents and Volunteers at Hultquist Place Donate to St. Susan Center

Resident Council members from the Hultquist Place Assisted Living Program at Lutheran hold various fundraising events for charity throughout the year. (From left) Margaret Ostrander, Pat Treharne, and volunteer Harris Goldstein recently presented a check for $150 to the St. Susan Center represented by Bonny Scott-Sleight, the center’s Executive Director (right). St. Susan Center was one of six local nonprofits to receive a donation which came from resident, employee, and visitors’ contributions. St. Susan Center is open year round offering meals, fellowship, dignity, and respect to all who come through their doors. With the holidays approaching, food and monetary donations are encouraged. Arrangements can be made by calling 716-664-2253.

Over 75 Children Attend Halloween Costume Parade at Lutheran

Over 75 children and grandchildren of residents and employees at Lutheran came to visit Hultquist Place Assisted Living Program and the Lutheran Home and Rehabilitation Center for a Halloween costume parade on Friday evening. The event, which traced through both buildings, allowed the children to trick-or-treat while residents passed out candy donated by Lutheran employees. The Halloween event is one of the most highly anticipated events each year. After the costume parade, the LHRC Activities Department hosts an event for families with cupcakes, cider, games, and crafts in Christ Chapel.