Perry Lutheran Homes to celebrate awards with ice cream social

Shannon Strickler, left, president and CEO of LeadingAge Iowa, presents the Public Trust Award to Melissa Gannon, center, Perry Lutheran Homes COO and administrator, and Wanda Pritzel, Perry Lutheran Homes director of charitable giving, at the September ceremony.

The Perry Lutheran Homes earned the 2019 Public Trust Award and Lutheran Homes Board of Directors member Bill Van Vliete was honored with the 2019 Board Member of the Year Award in September ceremonies hosted by LeadingAge Iowa, a statewide organization of non-profit providers of aging services and supports.

Community members are invited to join the Perry Lutheran Homes’ staff and residents in celebrating these awards at an ice cream social Thursday, Oct. 31 at 2 p.m. in the lobby of Perry Lutheran Homes’ Willis Campus at 2323 Willis Ave. in Perry.

The Public Trust Award was granted in recognition of the Perry Lutheran Homes’ creation, launch and spread of the StepUp Movement, which shines a light on elders living in communities who are lonely, afraid, hungry and forgotten.

Perry Lutheran Homes’ StepUp Movement was selected for the annual award by LeadingAge Iowa, which recognizes one organization annually for efforts that go far beyond traditional resident care and services to support and improve the greater community and is an example of the organization’s mission in action demonstrating commitment to social responsibility.

The “Step” in StepUp stands for Serving Together our Elderly with Passion and engages the greater community of Perry and beyond, urging everyone to take notice of the needs of elder citizens around them and to StepUp and take action to help.

The StepUp movement was launched at the first annual StepUp Celebrate dinner in May 2018. Following the dinner, weekly StepUp challenges were issued on Facebook to encourage community members, businesses, services organizations, churches and more involved in SteppingUp.

The StepUp campaign continued in July 2018 with the first annual Run Through Time 5K Fun Run celebrating elders, music and memories to raise funds for elders unable to afford care living at Perry Lutheran Homes and to support home delivered meals to elders in the community.

In 2019 these efforts and more were repeated with even greater awareness and involvement as the Perry Lutheran Homes took on the job of supporting the weekly senior fellowship meal not only with dollars but staff support in order to keep the program going.

“LeadingAge Iowa is so pleased to recognize Perry Lutheran Homes with the 2019 Public Trust Award for the StepUp Movement, which is a challenge to the greater public at large to recognize and meet the needs of older adults within the community,” said Shannon Strickler, president and CEO of LeadingAge Iowa in presenting the award. “We particularly liked how this movement is applicable not only in Perry but also in any other community within Iowa and beyond. We can all do more to support and honor the elders around us.”

To join the StepUp movement and take part in the fun and meaningful weekly challenges, follow the Perry Lutheran Homes Facebook page or visit the Run Through Time 5K Fun Run website. A video about the StepUp Movement was put together and shown at the LeadingAge Iowa awards banquet and can be viewed on YouTube.

Additionally, Perry Lutheran Homes’ board member Bill Van Vliete was selected as the 2019 state-wide Board Member of the Year by LeadingAge Iowa. This award is bestowed on an individual who has served unselfishly and with distinction on the board of trustees of a LeadingAge Iowa member organization.

The award recognized Van Vliete for his exceptional commitment and actions to enhance and enrich the lives of aging persons, exceptional service to the member organization and residents and specific evidence of leadership in helping achieve the organization’s goals and objectives attained during their leadership.

“In addition to serving as a board member for nine years, Bill has donated an incredible amount of time and talent to help make Perry Lutheran Homes’ Willis campus feel like a home through design, color, furniture, flooring and more,” said Max Phillips, CEO of the Perry Lutheran Homes. “All of this supports and improves the residents’ quality of life as they transition to their new home.”

Strickler said non-profit aging service providers like Perry Lutheran Homes are community organizations that rely upon the guidance and dedication of volunteer board members to set strategic direction.

“Bill Van Vliete has exceeded all expectations of board members by contributing such a significant amount of time and talent towards the betterment of Perry Lutheran Homes and to ensure all residents live in an enriching and warm environment. Thank you for your service, Mr. Van Vliete,” said Strickler.

Due to unforeseen health circumstances, Van Vliete was unable to attend the awards banquet, but Board Chairman Curt Carlson accepted the award on his behalf and a video about Mr. Van Vliete’s efforts was put together and shown which can be viewed on YouTube.

Mollie Clark is the marketing director of the Perry Lutheran Homes.


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