So what happens when older adults outlive their bank accounts? What about those who exceed the actuarial tables’ predictions? Do they get tossed out of the retirement communities they’ve come to call home?
Well, almost all Presbyterian homes say to their pastors and church leaders, “This is YOUR ministry and when your members move into our communities, we will take care of them, even if they outlive their financial resources!” As church-related, nonprofit organizations, members of the Presbyterian Association of Homes and Services for the Aging (PAHSA) embrace the legacy of our founders through our Christian love and concern for seniors.
Most of our organizations had humble beginnings. As struggling organizations, we opened our doors mostly to single women, many of whom had few financial resources. So we had to find ways to provide support for those who could not pay for their care.
To share the stories of what we do and to promote support for the residents who exhaust their financial resources through no fault of their own, a number of the members of PAHSA began a Mother’s Day offering through the Presbyterian churches in their states.
Two of these are Presbyterian Homes of Georgia and Presbyterian Communities of South Carolina (PCSC). Both organizations traditionally collect a Mother’s Day offering designated exclusively to provide benevolent support to those residents who must depend on others to remain in their communities.
How does the Mother’s Day offering work?
Presbyterian Homes of Georgia began its Mother’s Day offering in 1949. PCSC’s Mother’s Day offering was authorized in 1954, at the same time that a generous gift of land was offered to build the first community. In both organizations, the offering is taken through the state’s Presbyterian churches, promoted by volunteers in each of the churches, sent to the presbytery treasurer and then remitted to the organizations.
Approximately two-thirds of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) congregations in Georgia and South Carolina participate and give, on average, between $170,000 and $250,000 each year. The support provided to PC(USA) senior members totals almost $4 million annually in Georgia, and it averages $1.5 annually in South Carolina.
What does your support mean to residents and their families?
After her mother’s death, the daughter of a resident wrote: “We are especially grateful for the subsidy you provided for our mother when her funds were depleted. I don’t know what we would have done without your generosity and caring. A mere ‘Thank You’ does not seem adequate to express our gratitude.”
When a current resident was recently asked what it means that her senior living community has a policy to provide charitable care, she replied, “You cannot imagine what it is like to put your head down on the pillow at night and know that you are secure.”
In a time when people are living longer, planning and saving sometimes aren’t enough. That’s when church and individual support can provide a safety net.
What can your church do?
Remember that you and your Presbyterian retirement communities share a strong heritage. Find out what their needs are and consider providing support through your budget or through special offerings, such as Mother’s Day, memorial or honorarium gifts. Volunteer opportunities abound. Our Presbyterian retirement communities are one of the very best ministries of our churches.
KATHERINE LIGON is president and CEO of Presbyterian Communities of South Carolina and currently serves as vice chair of the PAHSA board of directors.
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