Heart2Heart Senior Outreach of South Florida will officially launch its Life on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 9, which is also the beginning of National Nursing Home Week. Several events to celebrate Mother’s Day are planned for local nursing homes by churches partnered with Heart2Heart Senior Outreach: Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, Christ Church of Fort Lauderdale and Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church.
By uniting churches to work together to meet the spiritual needs of the elderly in nursing homes, Heart2Heart Senior Outreach hopes to ensure that each resident in a South Florida long-term care center has regular and consistent one-on-one visitation, with the opportunity to experience Jesus
Christ through caring relationships and the shared Gospel message.
“It is our hope that Heart2Heart Senior Outreach will connect people to each other and to God,” said Pastor Fawn Mikel of Christ Church. “Jesus was a master at physically being with others. Our hope is that as we spend time with elderly residents, developing one-on-one relationships, we will not only share our hearts, but also share the heart of Christ.”
Conceived by the Stepelton family at The Festus and Helen Stacy Foundation, Heart2Heart Senior Outreach was created to assist individuals, groups and churches in the development and expansion of nursing home ministries. From creating initial awareness and giving presentations, to recruiting, equipping, training and encouraging church volunteers, Heart2Heart Senior Outreach exists to support Christians in providing love, hope and purpose to the elderly in long-term care centers.
“We are excited about the new Life resources, training, encouragement and ongoing support Heart2Heart Senior Outreach will provide to our existing Convalescent Care Life, ” said Ben MacAdam, of Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale. “We are grateful for the opportunity to partner with Heart2Heart Senior Outreach and other local churches to address the spiritual needs of the elderly confined to nursing homes.”
“The need for this Life is great, especially here in South Florida. Florida leads the nation in the number of elderly residents per capita. Broward County alone has over 350,000 senior residents, which represents more than 20 percent of our population. Many of these elderly citizens reside in one of Broward County’s 36 skilled nursing facilities or 294 assisted-living facilities. National statistics indicate that over 80 percent of residents in long-term care centers do not receive any visitors at all; not from family members, friends or sadly, even the church,” explains Virlee Stepelton.
“These elderly residents are lonely and feel abandoned and rejected,” notes Stepelton. “They have lost most everything of value in this world: health, family, friends, home, connection with their church, control of their finances and the ability to make their own decisions. Frequently what remains of their earthly possessions now fits into three small dresser drawers. As they face the end of their earthly journey, many elderly residents are in great need of spiritual care to ensure the gift of eternal life in heaven. They can’t go to church, so the church must go to them. We have witnessed how effective the Body of Christ can be when uniting for a common cause. It is our hope that Heart2Heart Senior Outreach of South Florida will help churches more effectively engage in meeting the spiritual and emotional needs of the elderly in long-term care centers.”
Heart2Heart Senior Outreach has partnered with several churches to launch its Life in South Florida.
“Although many churches have been caring for and presenting the Gospel to elderly residents in long-term care centers for years, we have developed a new, broad based approach to this Life which will allow more of the church body to participate in outreach to the elderly on a regular basis,” says Kim Kinsella, the executive director of Heart2Heart Senior Outreach. “Our goal is to help a church select a long-term care center within close proximity, which will act as a local outreach post where the entire church community can continuously serve together throughout the year. We have compiled a number of resource materials to help churches enhance or develop a care center Life, and will assist a church with volunteer recruitment, training, equipment and ongoing support.”
As a Heart2Heart Senior Outreach partner, Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church has grasped this vision and plans to draw volunteer participation from all Life areas of the church, including men, women, teens, children, Keenagers (55+), community groups, choirs, and various congregational care groups, as well as from its school, Westminster Academy.
The church’s Senior Pastor Tullian Tchividijian explains, “In addition to forming a long-term care team to provide elderly residents with a weekly worship service, we will also encourage individuals and families to adopt a resident and provide regular one-on-one visitation. We have designed many entry points and opportunities within our Heart2Heart Senior Outreach. This will allow church members a number of ways to participate with varying levels of commitment, including group Bible studies, special Culture, recreational and fitness activities, outreach to staff and resident family members, general maintenance and enhancement of the facility, letters, cards and artwork for residents, and holiday decoration and events. We look forward to serving the elderly residents of our adopted senior care center, and know that we, as a church, will be blessed greatly in the process.”
If you feel led to serve the elderly in a long-term care center and you would like to get your church involved, please contact Kim Kinsella at Heart2Heart Senior Outreach of South Florida for more information: phone 954-315-2218 or email her at [email protected]
Heart2Heart Senior Outreach is committed to uniting the Body of Christ to provide love, hope and purpose to the elderly in long-term care centers by recruiting, equipping, training and supporting Christian individuals, groups and churches to serve in this local mission field. Heart2Heart Senior Outreach is a member of the Christian Fellowship of Care Center Ministries.