When guests enter The Retreat at Buffalo Hill, Immanuel Lutheran Communities’ short-term rehabilitation community, they’re usually not feeling too great.  They come to the Retreat because they need help getting back on their feet after illness, injury, or surgery, and while they’re there, they get a variety of therapies, depending on what their doctor orders.  By the time they leave, they’re usually feeling a lot better.

Because they feel so much better when they leave than when they arrived, many guests over the years have expressed their desire to say thank you to the team at the Retreat.  That’s why the Immanuel Foundation has just rolled out our Grateful Guest program.  This program allows donors to make a gift to one of several funds—and, if they choose, to recognize a staff member who made a particularly big difference for them.

Some guests will choose to donate to the Employee Fund.  This fund has two main purposes: to support employees going through a rough patch via the Christ Care Fund (administered by our Pastoral Care department) and to provide funding for those looking to advance their education.  Grateful guests help our employees become even better at their jobs.  They also help them weather challenges like medical emergencies, car trouble, and heating outages.

Some guests might prefer to give in ways that help future guests experience the same level of service they received during their stay.  Gifts to our Programs and Services help make up the difference between Medicaid reimbursement rates and Immanuel’s costs to provide service.  They might also purchase necessary equipment that strengthens the Retreat’s ability to help guests get better.

And if guests don’t know how they want their gifts to be used, they can simply tell us to use them for the Greatest Need.  Greatest Need funds fill in gaps across campus, and the Immanuel Foundation board helps determine how they’re used.

No matter how they choose to designate their gifts, grateful guests can use their gift to honor a specific staff member who made their time at the Retreat particularly special, healing, or comfortable.  This person might be a CNA, a cook, a therapist, a housekeeper, or anyone else who made a difference for them specifically.  The staff member will be notified and recognized by their fellow employees.

All in all, the Grateful Guest program is a great new way for Retreat guests to say thank you for their stay while helping Immanuel become an even stronger organization.

Immanuel Lutheran Communities’ annual Summer Concert Series for 2018 kicked off on Wednesday, July 11 with a wonderful performance by storyteller and singer/songwriter Jack Gladstone.  The Buffalo Hill Terrace courtyard was full of residents, families, and guests of all ages.  Over the years, these concerts have become events where the wider Flathead Valley community joins the Immanuel community for music, snacks, and socialization during our beautiful Flathead Valley summers.

Many of our residents still enjoy going out to events and performances.  However, it’s hard for others to go to as many events as they’d like.  Getting in and out of the car can be difficult, and some venues aren’t very senior-friendly because of stairs, uncomfortable or wrong-height seating, or long distances between parking and event space.  So when we bring artists to campus, we bring live music to residents who couldn’t hear it otherwise.

But the concerts are about much more than that.  Last night, many residents had family members present.  In fact, my own parents were there with my aunt, visiting my grandfather (a Buffalo Hill Terrace resident).  They were far from the only ones; the crowd ranged in age from elementary-school-aged children to some of the Terrace’s oldest residents—who are approaching 100!  The outdoor summer concerts allow for easy mingling and snacking while listening to the music.  This makes it an ideal environment for families who want to spend time together.

The Summer Concert Series is also about our connection with the wider Flathead Valley community.  We advertise these concerts widely, and people with no prior connection to our campus sometimes visit us for the first time when they come to hear a concert.  It’s a good opportunity to see how much fun a retirement community can be.  When guests visit our campus for the concerts, they see neighbors enjoying each other’s company, families getting to know the friends of their loved ones who live at the Terrace, and residents taking in the music from their patios and balconies.  Guests also get to enjoy snacks provided by our wonderful dining team (last Wednesday’s cheese ball was particularly delicious).

The Immanuel Foundation staff thoroughly enjoyed the Jack Gladstone concert (and we’re still talking about the cheese ball), and we’ll be back for all the rest.  We’d love to meet you, so be sure to stop by our table to pick up some Foundation swag and register to win a $50 Amazon gift card.  We’re also selling raffle tickets for a handmade queen-size quilt.  Tickets are $5 or $20 for five, and proceeds benefit the altar furnishings for our new chapel.

The next concert is Stick and String at 7pm on Wednesday, July 25.  We hope to see you there!

While this blog lives on the Immanuel Foundation website, it’s not really about asking for donations. Instead, it’s about sharing stories of the work we do. But Amazon Prime Day starts at 1pm Mountain Time today (more on what that is in a minute), so I thought I’d take this opportunity to write a little bit about how easy it can be to be philanthropic in the twenty-first century. Of course, we all want to be thoughtful about how we direct our gifts so we can make sure they’re going to organizations we genuinely support. So giving wisely can take a lot of time and research. But not always. Sometimes, giving is easy.

I’m thinking about this right now because July 16th-17th bring us Prime Day, Amazon’s 36 hours of discounts for members of its Prime program. If you’re thinking right now that that sounds like the ultimate made-up holiday created purely to justify consumerist excess, you and I are on the same page (but, um, we might also be on that page, trying to figure out whether there will be any good deals on things we, er, need). On its face, Prime Day doesn’t sound like much of an occasion for philanthropy.

But it could be! Immanuel Lutheran Communities participates in the Amazon Smile program. If you shop at smile.amazon.com and choose Immanuel Lutheran Communities as your designated charity, a percentage of your eligible purchases will go to help seniors in the Flathead Valley. There’s no additional cost to you, and once you’ve chosen your charity, you don’t need to do anything except start shopping at the “smile” page rather than at the regular Amazon page. Just think, you could get a great deal on a Fire TV Cube (once you figure out what that actually is) and help care for seniors!

Prime Day might, in fact, be mostly a day of buying “presents” for yourself. But simply by doing your shopping that day on Amazon Smile, you can give presents to Immanuel residents as well. Giving via Amazon Smile doesn’t cost you anything more than what you’re already paying for the items you buy. The donation comes from Amazon’s foundation to our foundation—all you do is direct it (while shopping!). I think most of us in the Flathead Valley would agree that online retailers have made it much easier for us to get the things we want and need in a timely fashion. Conveniently, they’ve also made it easier than ever to give back to our friends and neighbors here in our home community.