Four residents and an associate chaplain at Carroll Lutheran Village recently returned to managing the Stephen Ministry program, which provides confidential, one-to-one care to CLV residents experiencing life challenges program. Though the program was paused because of pandemic safety protocols, the team was determined to continue working with CLV residents on depression, loneliness, family loss, loss of faith, health, end-of-life and other concerning issues and are grateful to be providing caregiving again.
Bob Nicoll, the program’s class administrator, provides oversight with other CLV Stephen Leaders, Connie Kidder and Jay King. CLV’s Associate Chaplain Charles Marshall and Spiritual Life Committee Chair James Boesler round out the leadership team. Each team member received 50 hours of specialized training to be a Stephen Minister before working with residents.
While the reasons for volunteering vary for each, they all share an understanding of the program’s importance and necessity. Kidder became interested in caring ministries early in life. As a young adult, she received support from her church, family and others. Since then, she has had a passion for helping others.
Kings’s interest in assisting the elderly came from his interactions with a pastor while in high school. He stated, “Now I am one,” yet he still enjoys befriending residents who are close in age. He saw an ad about Stephen Ministries at CLV and immediately applied. He feels lucky to have been in the right place at the right time. Stephen Ministries allows him to do what he loves – serving those in need.
Boesler faced many challenges and at one time thought, God can’t love me. It took time, but he now believes, despite everything, God loves him. He wants others going through a difficult time to know God is with them all the time. This desire led Boesler to complete the Stephen Ministry training so he can help CLV residents.
After a long career in management where Nicoll spent most of his time with lots of people and organizations, he said, “I wanted to find something different – something to experience one-on-one relationships.” As a Stephen Leader, he’s been able to experience those relationships.
Nicholl said, “We routinely remind our team that we are caregivers, not cure givers – the latter is in God’s hands.” CLV’s eight Stephen Ministers are careful to remember they are not therapists and avoid trying to fix care receivers’ problems. If care receivers need more support than a minister can offer, a referral is made to an outside professional or mental health specialist.
The leadership team plans to expand the program to include reaching those who may need support but do not require the full program. For example, some residents may benefit from simply having a conversation with a Minister rather than meeting for multiple sessions.
Considering the challenges many are facing since the pandemic started, CLV’s residents and team members are happy to have Stephen Ministers and Leaders in the community to provide caring support.