LSS Blog

Chaplain Jeffrey Harter article featured in “Caring Connections.”

Chaplain Jeffrey Harter recently had an article published in Caring Connections. Reprinted with permission from Lutheran Services in America. The original appeared in Caring Connections Volume 14 2017 Number 3. If you would like to sign up for Caring Connections or other publications, you can visit
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Creating Community Through Tragedy

“Serving as Christ would serve,” is a phrase commonly heard at Lutheran Senior Services (LSS). When both Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma created a wave of need, resident and staff members responded asking, “What are we doing to help?”

Jerri Phillips, Service Coordinator for Madison Manor and Vernon Heights, Lutheran Senior Services Affordable Housing locations, brainstormed ways they could make a positive impact. “I spoke with residents and asked what they thought about the idea of helping out with disaster response,” said Jerri. “The residents responded with an overwhelming desire to provide any relief or aid they could.” Within 24 hours, a donation station and was receiving an overwhelming response.

“Before the disaster response station was set up, many of the residents had expressed feelings of grief and helplessness over their perceived inability to help their neighbors to the South”, Jerri said. “Many had friends and family in the areas affected and they just wanted to do something about it.” Because of this, Jerri was not surprised when some residents came back with donations within an hour of her setting up the donation station. “Once the posters and donation boxes went up, the tone went from helpless to hopeful. The residents were clearly empowered by their ability to make a difference.”

Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma have created a devastating effect. But they have also created an opportunity for people all across America to serve as Christ would serve. Whether through donations or prayer, together we rebuild and regrow.

If you would like to help those in need as the residents of Madison Manor and Vernon Heights have, please reach out to the Red Cross at



Peoria, Ill, September 12, 2017 – Keep Peoria Beautiful has named Lutheran Hillside Village a winner of its 2017 Orchid Maintenance Award. The award is given each year to select commercial properties in the Peoria area that have previously won an Orchid Award for beautiful landscapes and then continue to maintain their property in excellent condition. Winners are based upon nominations received from the public.

“We are humbled to receive this recognition for the beautiful landscaping that we maintain across our 37-acre campus,” said Shelly Heiden, Executive Director of Lutheran Hillside Village. “All of our buildings, apartments and outer homes are surrounded by lush landscaping beds that are meticulously designed, planted, maintained and refreshed with new plants by our groundskeeper Richard Fuller in consultation with our residents on the Grounds Committee and Beautification Committee. Two local nurseries – Greenview and Hoer – provide the plants that perfectly compliment each other, have staggered bloom times. add splashes of color to the prominent areas of our campus and keep things looking their best. I want to thank everyone involved for their dedication to keeping Lutheran Hillside Village one of the most beautiful places in Peoria,”

Keep Peoria Beautiful has been bestowing honors for more than 60 years on Peoria businesses for their outstanding effort in improving the appearance of their property. This year’s winners will be announced on September 28 at the Keep Peoria Beautiful Annual Awards Banquet, which helps to elevate community awareness of the importance of beautification and environmental stewardship.

Lutheran Hillside Village is a Life Plan Community for older adults located at 6901 N. Galena Road in Peoria. Part of Lutheran Senior Services, Lutheran Hillside Village offers five levels of senior living services. For more information, visit

Lenoir Woods senior living community opens 79 new apartments

As featured on – visit here to view video.

COLUMBIA – Senior citizens now have more options when it comes to independent living apartments.

Lenoir Woods senior living community opened its doors to 79 new independent living apartments at a dedication ceremony Wednesday morning.

The ceremony featured a ribbon cutting and appearances from Mayor Brain Treece and Lutheran Senior Services officials at the campus.

Executive Director Kent Kirkwood said this is the third phase of their master plan to renovate and expand the senior living community.

“It took us 15 months to get here,” Kirkwood said.

The 79 new apartments, known as Edgewood apartments, can have up to three bedrooms. They are offered to seniors over the age of 62 who are looking to leave traditional homes but still be active in their community.

“We have about 64 to 65 apartments that are already reserved, and we have several people who are very interested in moving in,” Kirkwood said.

Jerry Darnell is moving into his new apartment with his wife at the end of the month, and is ready to start living in his new home.

“We’re really excited, we’ve been looking forward to this for about two years now,” Darnell said. “Everything is ready. They’re just waiting for us to move in.”

The Darnells even have room for their grandchildren to visit.

“They come and visit us quite often, so we have a two-bedroom place so they can come visit us.”

Kirkwood said residents will begin moving in over the next three months, one apartment a day, six days a week.

The final phase of the renovations include a rehab center that will be finished in November and an administration and wellness center that will be finished in March 2018. The wellness center will include a pool, gym, physicians clinic, and an arts and crafts area.

“We just welcome everyone to come and visit our community. We have 110 acres of woods and a wonderful residence,” Kirkwood said.

Smarts, Service, and Stewardship: LSS Staff Has It All

Every year, John Kotovsky, President and CEO of Lutheran Senior Services, gets hundreds of emails and letters from residents and their family members. They sing praises for the great staff LSS has and the difference they make. In response, John put a challenge out to all employees. He would join in the job of any employee of LSS so he could see firsthand what everyone was writing to him about. Emails from all across LSS came in, inviting him to be a part of their dining, laundry, and clinical teams. And what a great experience it was!

“I was impressed by the amount of effort it takes to really get to know our residents. The dining staff knew every detail of how residents prefer their meals. I witnessed the clinical staff call the family members of each resident by name as if they were their own family. I heard conversations between residents and maintenance staff and receptionists demonstrating the close relationships they share together. I had residents pull me aside to make it clear to me just how much they all appreciated everything the staff did for them.”

At each of the communities John visited, he saw time and time again the difference employees were making. One of John’s biggest takeaways was just how truly blessed LSS is to have such a talented group of employees that love their jobs and those they serve.

“It is evident that every staff member is truly bettering someone else’s life with their work, and that their patience with our residents is a clear indicator of this, from those who assist residents that cannot otherwise feed themselves, to ensuring that the residents all have clean, soft sheets to sleep on. Everyone I met had an overwhelmingly positive attitude about their work and the impact it has on our residents.”

At the end of the day, it takes a group effort to fulfill our Christian mission of Older Adults Living Life to the Fullest.

“It is clear that our entire staff works together each and every day to accomplish this important mission,” John said. “From dining to nursing, to housekeeping, maintenance, and activities, the LSS team works hard and works with a servant attitude towards our residents.”

So far, John has been to Breeze Park, Heisinger Bluffs/St. Joseph Bluffs, Meridian Village, the Home Office, and Laclede Groves, having a great experience with each visit. John continues to spend time at our communities and see first-hand the impact we make daily as part of Lutheran Senior Services.

Merwyn’s Green Thumb

We are all familiar with the phrase “it takes a village”, referring to the mentality that we have to work together to achieve our goals. For Merwyn French, making the world a beautiful place through gardening had always been a goal. Merwyn was a Farm Manager in Nebraska until the spring of 2003, when he moved to Lutheran Hillside Village, a Lutheran Senior Services Life Plan Community.

When Merwyn first arrived at Lutheran Hillside Village, there was no garden-but that didn’t stop Merwyn from using his green thumb-he began planting on a vacant lot nearby. He was soon joined by friend Bill Lange, and together the two enjoyed their hobby of horticulture. As their love of planting continued to grow as quickly as their garden, Bill and Merwyn asked Lutheran Hillside Village to approve the initiation of a garden on campus. As soon as Merwyn received the green light, he put his green thumb to work on a small plot, later expanding that small plot throughout the next few years into the expansive garden.

As more and more members of Lutheran Hillside Village noticed the joys that the garden was bringing their neighbors and friends, Merwyn realized he had a big job ahead of him. He worked tirelessly to ensure that all incoming residents were able to have a plot they could cultivate and call their own, as well as ensuring there were plots available for any current residents that decided they would like to give gardening a go. To ensure each plot was ready to be worked, Merwyn would install rails around each plot, sprinklers, and fencing around the garden.

Merwyn passed away in early 2017. However, he left behind a legacy not only to his loving family, but with the entire community at Lutheran Hillside Village. Since more and more residents have flocked to cultivate, harvest and plant in the garden he started, the garden has continued to expand to its current state of 37 designated plots. Thanks to the efforts of Merwyn and the many residents that enlisted to garden alongside him, the garden is a now a source of joy for family members and residents of Lutheran Hillside Village alike, and even produces some of the ingredients used in the kitchens at Lutheran Hillside Village.

During a ceremony in Merwyn’s honor on June 26th, 2017, a plaque was installed declaring the garden as the Merwyn French Garden. Produced and installed by the talented woodworkers at Lutheran Hillside Village, The Woodchucks, Merwyn’s contributions live on not just in the memories of friends and family, but for years to come in the garden he created and by the residents at Lutheran Hillside Village who will continue to care for it and use it at their pleasure.

LSS wins 1st place in the Valuing Gray Video Contest

Congratulations to our Masterpiece Living Residents from Breeze Park, Heisinger Bluffs, and Meridian Village who shared their stories of purpose and giving to others. Because of their efforts, LSS won 1st place in the Valuing Gray Video Contest.

The Valuing Gray video contest from Masterpiece Living (MPL) is designed to showcase how the talents of older adults are contributing to the greater good. This was the first time the contest was held, making LSS the inaugural winner!

Our video highlighted residents at Breeze Park who have made over 2,000 quilts for the Ronald McDonald House, Heisinger Bluffs residents creating pillows and smocks for children with special needs, and Meridian Village residents making sleeping mats out of plastic bags for the homeless.

5 Legal Documents You Need Right Now: Expert Advice from Lutheran Senior Services

001 5 Legal Docs


Planning for your future is always a good idea. The basics of estate planning include five documents that will assist both you and your loved ones in managing your property and medical care.

1. Release of Information: The Release of Information form allows your healthcare provider to discuss your medical care and medical bills with those you designate. This document does not allow those designees to make any decisions on your behalf. Your treating healthcare provider generally provides this document.

2. Durable Power of Attorney: A power of attorney grants a designated person the legal authority to act on your behalf. Depending on how they are written, these document may be effective when they are signed, when you have become incapacitated or upon some other triggering event. An attorney or other legal services may prepare this document on your behalf.

3. Advance Directive: An Advance Directive is a document that describes the type(s) of medical care you want and don’t want when you are unable to express those wishes yourself. This document is available on the Missouri Bar website at

4. Healthcare Power of Attorney: A healthcare power of attorney grants a designated person the legal authority to make healthcare decisions on your behalf. An Advance Directive provides some guidance but a healthcare power of attorney gives your designee the ability to make decisions for you that are not directly addressed in the Advance Directive. Generally, the healthcare power of attorney cannot violate your Advance Directive. This document is available on the Missouri Bar website at

5. Will/Trust: A will/trust describes how you wish your property to be distributed after death and designates who will oversee that distribution. Proper estate planning can reduce administrative costs and taxes as well as relieving your loved ones of the burden of figuring out how you wished your property to be distributed. An attorney or other legal services may prepare this document on your behalf.

Download Advance Directive & Healthcare Power of Attorney



Brian Reinhold is an attorney with a background in medical negligence litigation, having represented both plaintiffs and healthcare providers. Brian manages all claims and litigation for Lutheran Senior Services, St. Louis’ largest not-for-profit, as well as oversees investigations and responses to regulatory matters. In addition, Brian develops and provides training on preparing for and responding to adverse events.



Support Project Wellness on GiveSTLDay!

One day can change the life of an older adult – several, even hundreds! GiveSTLDay is coming Thursday, May 11. This 24-hour giving event celebrates generosity and the work of nonprofits in the St. Louis area, including Project Wellness at Lutheran Senior Services.


View our segment on Show Me St. Louis.


Join us on!

  • Make a difference. Project Wellness empowers low-income older adults to monitor and manage their health through the use of tele-health kiosks and parish nurses. This free program has created 4,000 interventions where health issues were detected and treated before they became serious!
  • Extend your dollar. Just make a gift through on Tuesday, May 11. Local charitable foundations are matching donations throughout the day and your gift could be matched!
  • Win prizes. Donate for a chance to win additional dollars for your charity or some great prizes like Cardinals tickets!

Other Great Ways to Support Project Wellness

  • Volunteer. We need you! There are several ways you can volunteer with Project Wellness and low-income older adults that will fit your schedule and your gifts.
  • Share on Social Media. Help get the word out. On May 11, we’ll be posting stories and information about LSS. You can help other people get to know us by liking and sharing!




Peoria, Ill., March 28, 2017 – A program that has slowed the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias in older adults during research trials in Japan and the United States will be introduced to memory care residents at Lutheran Hillside Village beginning in June.  Called SAIDO Learning, this promising cognitive rehabilitation therapy program is a drug-free treatment developed by the Kumon Institute of Education of Japan to address symptoms such as apathy and depression and improve the quality of life and cognitive and physical functioning in older adults. 

“SAIDO Learning has been practiced for more than 12 years in more than 1,400 nursing facilities across Japan, showing stunning results in over 18,000 older adults,” said Shelly Heiden, Executive Director of Lutheran Hillside Village. “We are excited to be the first senior living community in Peoria to offer SAIDO Learning and one of only 17 in the United States.  The goal of SAIDO Learning is to not only provide care for individuals with dementia, but to actually reverse and slow the progress of the symptoms, thus improving their quality of life and ultimately reducing the cost of their care.”

The SAIDO Learning method involves a trained caregiver engaging two older adults in a series of precise, yet simple, arithmetic, writing and reading exercises. The exercises are performed five times per week and last 30 minutes, in order to stimulate the prefrontal cortex of the brain. The object of the therapy is not to teach the material but to engage the Learner in the accomplishment of repeated successful exercises, progressing to new material at the Learner’s own level and pace. This process fosters confidence and the ability and initiative to advance. Most notably, the result is an improvement in cognitive function.  For more information on SAIDO Learning, visit

Meridian Village, another Lutheran Senior Services community in Glen Carbon, Illinois, recently joined in a national study on the effectiveness of SAIDO Learning being conducted by researchers at the Cleveland Clinic.  Meridian Village has offered SAIDO Learning for two years, and the results of the program for participating residents attracted the interest of the Cleveland Clinic researchers.

Lutheran Hillside Village is a continuing care retirement community operated by Lutheran Senior Services in Peoria that offers independent living apartments and patio homes, REACH short stay rehabilitation, assisted living, memory care assisted living and long tern care within an environment of compassionate person-centered care.  For more information, visit

Lutheran Senior Services is a mission-driven, not-for-profit network that specializes in housing, care, and supportive services for older adults age 62 and above.. With 21 locations in Missouri and Illinois, LSS serves more than 11,000 seniors each year through options that include Senior Living Communities offering all levels of care, Affordable Housing for those with limited incomes, and Home & Community Based Services. LSS builds upon 155+ years of excellence in living out its Christian mission of Older Adults Living Life to the Fullest.

Contact: Craig Workman