PLH team stepping up to care for elders in Jacmel, Haiti

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Construction began on the Jacmel Lutheran Home in February 2018. A team from Perry will spend a week at the facility in January 2019. Photo courtesy Perry Lutheran Homes

Food, clean water, safe shelter and medical care are essential for life. However, these critical items are not easily accessible to the elders of Haiti due to no government safety net and poverty forcing many to live a life on the streets.

The Perry Lutheran Homes is working to change this destitute reality for elder citizens in Jacmel, Haiti. The first-of-its-kind intergenerational eldercare home is being constructed, and phase one is nearing completion.

Construction is being overseen by a partnering organization, Ministry in Mission, and funding for construction made possible by a Lutheran Women in Mission grant. Next door stands a vibrant orphanage filled with close to 30 children that has been successfully run for 12 years also by Ministry in Mission.

With more than 62 years’ experience caring for elders and the innovative intergenerational programming with the Acorns and Oaks on-site childcare, the Perry Lutheran Homes was sought out to bring this intergenerational community and eldercare home “to life” through processes, procedures, training, intergenerational programming and more.

“When I learned that Jacmel Lutheran Home was named by local Haitians involved in the project in honor of Perry Lutheran Homes, it brought tears to my eyes,” said Melissa Gannon, chief operating officer and administrator for the Perry Lutheran Homes. “To know that our innovations, expertise, programs and training will have impacts across the world is truly humbling and simply amazing.”

A team of 11 from Perry will work in Jacmel Jan. 9-16. The team will be composed of senior staff members from both the Perry Lutheran Homes and its ministry partners, Lutheran Family Service, with expertise in both orphan care and mental health.

Two large suitcases full of supplies and over-the-counter medicines will accompany each team member on their travels to help stock the bare shelves in both the eldercare home and the orphanage.

The January trip is part of a bigger vision to support Haiti’s elders. While on site, the senior staff will be helping to assess and admit the first residents and share expertise on how to care for elderly residents in a medical setting. Training will be provided on site to those who want to work in the home as nurses and nurse aides.

Teaching will also include intergenerational programming to facilitate connection and engagement between the children who live at the orphanage and the elders in the home. Continued communication and training will be provided remotely to the staff in Jacmel by the Perry Lutheran Homes staff through the use of technology such as video chat.

“In all of this, it is our mission to serve Christ by serving others – whether near or far,” said Wanda Pritzel, director of philanthropy for the Perry Lutheran Homes. “With the launch of our community StepUp program last May, we are reminded that we don’t need to travel far to see and serve elders in need. We have everyday opportunities to StepUp and serve elders in our very own communities.”

Community members are invited to help “Pack the Suitcases” by buying and bringing in new medical supplies and over-the-counter medications to either campus of the Perry Lutheran Homes, the Willis Avenue campus at 2323 Willis Ave. or the Spring Valley campus at 501 12th St.

Items needed for both elders and orphans include ibuprofen, acetaminophen, naproxen, aspirin, etc., baby aspirin, antibacterial and anti-itch creams, gauze, Band-Aids, alcohol prep pads, hand sanitizer, non-irritating soap and body wash and non-irritating lotion.

To learn more about this mission, like and follow the Perry Lutheran Homes’ Facebook page.

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

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