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Tucson Giving: St. Luke’s Home

In 2014, Ruth Campbell and 17 volunteers with the St. Luke’s Board of Visitors are tweaking tradition: The fundraising arm for St. Luke’s Home will change up its signature fiesta and present a Western-themed 95th Baile Celebration on April 12.

The celebration will combine time-honored customs with fresh ideas, reflecting a similar evolution in the past year at the assisted-living facility for seniors of limited financial means, Campbell said.

“Our new director, Beverly Heasley, has started something very exciting called ‘The Eden Alternative,’ which is about self-determination and involvement and choosing their way of life for St. Luke’s residents,” Campbell said. “It helps them to become very involved in the community through intergenerational experiences and is just wonderful.”

The Eden Alternative is a philosophy of care developed by Dr. William Thomas, a New York geriatrician who based his ideas on the belief that the well-being of seniors can be improved by transforming the communities in which they live to eliminate loneliness, helplessness and boredom.

The antidote is surrounding residents with plants, animals and children, according to Heasley, a certified Eden Alternative educator.

“What we are doing is creating a habitat for human beings. The key phrase is, ‘It is better to live in a garden,’” Heasley said. “Here at St. Luke’s Home we are resident-centered, and all decisions are made as close to the residents as possible to give them purpose and allow them to embrace life on their own terms.”

Heasley said St. Luke’s is nearing completion of phase one in the four-phase process of becoming Tucson’s only registered Eden Alternative assisted-living community. In the past year, residents have adopted their first animal — a desert tortoise they named Daisy Mae — that they care for. The home also is in the process of adding more plants to its gardens inside and out.

St. Luke’s residents also tutor area students, and young people ages 18 to 21 from the Goodwill GoodFutures Program visit St. Luke’s to volunteer with tasks such as landscaping, housekeeping and culinary work, and to share lunch with residents.

Next year St. Luke’s will continue collaborations with the UA Center on Aging and with students from the UA Colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy and Public Health.

“The intergenerational component allows young people and students to share their life experiences and hear residents’ life experiences; our residents can mentor these young people and the young people can mentor the residents as well,” Heasley said.

“Residents can give back to the community as well as receive, and it is very exciting.”

St. Luke’s Home is a 64-unit assisted-living facility that accommodates men, women and couples age 55-plus living on incomes of less than $25,000 a year.

Residents pay based on a sliding scale: Heasley said about 40 percent of revenue is generated by resident rent and service fees; the remainder of the $1 million annual budget comes from donations, grants, private gifts, contributions from people who care about low-income elders and funds raised by the board of trustees and from the Baile, which was Tucson’s first fundraiser.

“The Board of Visitors are an integral part of St. Luke’s Home. I don’t know what we would do without them and the funds and the volunteer hours they provide, as well as the love and caring they have for the people who live here and the people who work here.” Heasley said.

Campbell said the Board of Visitors is committed to evolving along with the facility. She said they are seeking new volunteers on every level — including those who may want to commit for a limited time, volunteer for only certain activities or work directly with residents on specific tasks such as baking or gardening.

“We are looking for people who want to be members of the Board of Visitors even for a short term and for people who may just want to help out at the home. Like many other organizations, we are trying to be more flexible so we can allow people to volunteer at their convenience,” she said.

Ultimately, Campbell is dedicated to helping an underserved senior population of those who are no longer unable to live alone but are unable to qualify for state-supported long-term care.

“St. Luke’s meets a unique need in Tucson that most other places don’t. It is directed at the people who fall in the gap between the truly indigent and those who have the ability to pay at higher-rate resident facility sites,” she said.

Article source: http://azstarnet.com/news/local/tucson-giving-st-luke-s-home/article_819de44e-2559-5028-bb49-eaeda7203ea7.html