November 17, 2014

Assisting the greatest generation

Empowering vibrant, grace-filled living across all generations. That is the mission of Lutheran Life Communities, an ELCA-related ministry providing life-sustaining services for older adults and their families through a network of continuing care retirement communities across three states.

The original Lutheran Home opened in Arlington Heights, Illinois, in 1892, and set the stage for campuses of the future. More than a century later, the ministry evolved into Lutheran Life Communities, officially founded in 2005, and today houses more than 1,200 individuals across six locations in Illinois, Indiana and Florida. These sites support even more adults in their homes. Each site offers a “continuum of care” assisting elders who are able to live in their own homes, offering independent living options, transitioning to assisted living environments, and progressing to skilled nursing or memory care as needed.

“Lutheran Life Communities is a vital ministry,” says Carl Moellenkamp, senior vice president of strategic consulting. “We stay focused on our long-term vision: helping the older members of our communities in ways that suit them. Assisted by our foundation, supported by generous donors, we’re able to offer benevolent care, allowing older residents to remain with us—even when they exhaust their financial resources.”

With the help of Mission Investment Fund loans for a number of sites, Lutheran Life Communities has been able to build new housing and expand and renovate aging residential units.

“We chose the Mission Investment Fund for recent projects in part because we have worked with MIF in the past and found it to be beneficial,” says Moellenkamp. “MIF really understands the mission and ministry side of things— plus, they’re good to work with. MIF also had the best rates, and they were the only lender willing to consider a longer-term loan over five years.”

“We’ve been able to do so much with our MIF loans, and we’re very grateful to MIF for that,” Roger W. Paulsberg, president and CEO of Lutheran Life Communities, agrees.

A Mission Investment Fund loan provided renovations at St. Pauls House, built in 1921 by St. Pauls Church west of Wrigley Field in Chicago. St. Pauls House provides short-term rehabilitation, assisted living and memory support units.

One hundred miles west of Chicago in Ottawa, Illinois, Pleasant View has been serving older adults since 1937. “Something quite interesting happened at Pleasant View,” Paulsberg says. “We built a new assisted living facility with 24 units, and before construction was complete, all 24 residences were reserved. We immediately made plans to expand with an additional 17 more units. I really think that speaks to the growing community need for ministries like ours.”

Pleasant View is a prototype of the new generation of senior living. Today, older adults expect the extras. “Pleasant View has some wonderful spaces,” says Penny Paulsberg, Lutheran Life Communities director of design. “This site offers residents a library with Internet capabilities, a beautiful bistro, a multipurpose activity room, a state-of-theart fitness center, gift shop, beauty and barber shop. It’s great to see all these amenities in one place; the residents are very excited about these services.” 

Luther Oaks, a seven-year-old development in the central Illinois city of Bloomington, combines independent living apartment homes, assisted living and a nationally recognized memory support program for those living with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

“An MIF loan allowed us to add a total of 18 medical suites, which are essentially hybrids of hospital rooms and apartments, each equipped with the latest medical equipment and technology,” Roger Paulsberg says. “Half of them are intended for short-term rehabilitation, and the other half are designated for long-term care.

“In the course of my days, I have the opportunity to sit down and connect with World War II veterans and others of that generation—some of the greatest Americans alive,” Paulsberg says. “These individuals have been through so much and they absolutely deserve all of the services, all of the respect and care we can provide. With the help of MIF, that’s something Lutheran Life Communities can continue to offer.”