by Dan Pimentel
In April 2017, Palm Village CEO and President, David Reimer will travel to Beirut with four other Americans to participate in the second Lebanese Interfaith Elder Care Conference.
Here is the history of the organization and the Lebanese Interfaith Elder Care Conference:
In April 2012, Joyce Eid visited Palm Village Retirement Community (PVRC), to meet the residents and worked with staff and senior management for education and preparation to open Moadieh Evangelical Center, the first faith-based assisted living center for senior adults in Beirut, Lebanon. The connection between Joyce and PVRC was made through the Mennonite Central Committee and the National Evangelical Church of Beirut.
Three months later, at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Center, the Board Chairman announced that all faiths and groups would be welcome as residents, another first in the country where it is difficult to approach the topic of retirement due to stigma and family values and traditions.
As a result of Joyce’s visit to Reedley, David Reimer, CEO and President of PVRC, became even more committed to serving senior adults, regardless of where they live. David traveled to Lebanon in 2014, to visit the Moadieh Evangelical Center and tour the Beirut area and meet the country’s people.
Shortly afterwards, as the Moadieh Center became known for being very welcoming to people of all faiths including Muslims and Druze, they received a request from a prominent Druze leader and politician, to meet and discuss a possible collaboration to communicate with senior and healthcare leaders in the government. He eventually arranged a meeting between Joyce and the COO of a Druze Nursing Home.
David, Joyce and the late Ken Enns, PVRC Board Member, organized the first Lebanese Interfaith Elder Care Conference in Cyprus in September, 2015. Managers of 12 different Lebanese long-term care centers representing Shia, Sunni, Druze, Evangelical Protestant, Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic faiths attended.
Topics in the conference included: “Technologies to Support Older Adults and their Caregivers”, “Treatment of Diabetes, Today and Tomorrow”, and “Collaborations and Affiliations.”
“The participating leaders, representing unique organizations rooted within various religious traditions, demonstrated a remarkable capacity to suspend differences and find common cause and extend trust to one another. They were able to name and claim their common sense of ‘sacred’ call to serving older adults with love, compassion, and dignity. They recognized that through extending trust they could begin to build friendships through which they could advance common interests in policy and resource development. It was an honor to serve and learn with them,” says Rick Stiffney, CEO of Mennonite Health Services.
Since the Cyprus Conference, the Lebanese attendees have continued to meet monthly, with each member hosting the rotating schedule at one of their Centers.
Interest in Lebanese Elder Care has grown significantly because of the collaboration and the second conference is scheduled for April, 2017. Five Americans will travel to Beirut to tour the Centers for two days before meeting with the Lebanese leaders at a conference center outside of the city.
The topics to be presented are: “Design Considerations for Today’s Seniors: Planning for Wellness, Not Sickness”, “Service Delivery Models for Seniors”, “Technology and Innovations in Senior Services”, and “The Board/Executive Relationship”.
The Lebanese Interfaith Elder Care Group has not only significantly increased the awareness of the need for improved care for the Elders, but also brought together many religious sects working towards peace.