The love was delivered Thursday afternoon at the Eden Acres campus of the Perry Lutheran Homes (PLH), where a party was held to celebrate this year’s winners of awards from LeadingAge Iowa, a statewide organization of nonprofit providers of aging services and supports.
The ceremonies began at 3 p.m., when Shannon Strickler, president and CEO of LeadingAge Iowa, presented the 2022 Excellence in Leadership Award to Tonya Swank, the guest experience director and assisted living coordinator at the PLH.
Swank, a 23-year employee of the PLH, is no stranger to caregiving honors. She won the Caregiver of the Year Award in 2016 from LeadingAge Iowa, and her 2022 award proves her continued growth in serving the local community.
The PLH Chief Operating Officer and Administrator Melissa Gannon said that Swank’s “passion for and ability to create memorable moments and meaningful experiences brings joy, laughter and happy tears to residents, their families and the PLH team.”
A surprise was in store for Val Chapman, who was nominated for Support and Service Professional of the Year. Chapman was the PLH’s frontline screener during the grueling two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, and she was also responsible for keeping the staff supplied with PPE and stepping up as occasion demanded as a receptionist, greeter and parking lot attendant.
Having revealed her gifts as a master customer-service provider, a promotion was deemed to be in order, and her move up to the position of PLH visitor experience director was also revealed at the party. Strickler presented Chapman with a letter of commendation for her services.
Strickler also honored four women as LeadingAge Iowa Volunteers of the Year: Ann Carrick, Nancy Harker, Jennifer Priest and Diana Troester. While these four volunteers are involved in many activities at the Perry Lutheran Homes, Strickler especially commended them for their efforts on this year’s Project Deliver the Love, which delivered care baskets to more than 400 people in the Perry area, including some 300 elderly people in their homes and about 150 residing in local long-term care facilities.
Eden Acres residents and community well wishers shared cookies, coffee and punch at the afternoon festivities, and a clever video, featuring many PLH figures, was among the highlight of the celebration.