Giving Back: Living a Life of Service
Choose Today to Serve Others
We’re in a world that encourages egocentricity. Yet when your focus is turned inward, joy is always, tragically, the casualty. Our Founder/CEO, Ken Jaeger does not mince words when it comes to inspiring – even urging – others to live a life of selfless giving. Whether speaking to his Home Office team or a community team, his words are often these: “Don’t wait to serve. Serve now. Today. Get involved somewhere, anywhere. It will make you a better person (and if you work for MorningStar, it will make you a better team member). And don’t wait to give until the day you make a million dollars. Don’t wait until your children are grown. Don’t wait until you retire. Give now, give generously. And just see what happens. For you cannot out-give God.”
Operation Christmas Child
Working with the Mississippi Baptist Church (our near neighbor), residents of MorningStar at Dayton Place supported the global charitable efforts of Operation Christmas Child by filling 15 shoeboxes, collecting 35 teddy bears and cash, and knitting 10 caps to add to boxes. By Christmas morning, our lovingly-packed boxes found happy recipients in Mexico.
Team Trabajo in Nicaragua…Stirred and Shaken
(October 2016)aShaken and Stirred: that’s how we, as Team Trabajo (the Home Office of MorningStar), felt during our week’s stay in Nicaragua in support of the Casa Bernabe orphanage.
We were shaken by walking past the tin shacks of Puerto Cabezas, by riding their pot-holed roads, by visiting their forlorn hospitals and jails—and by daring to look squarely at abject poverty. We were stirred by the joy we saw among the remarkably resilient and brave Nicaraguan people, by their gleaming smiles and cheerful greetings. Imagine us stepping (rather timidly) into the local Feeding Center, and each being swarmed by dozens of children—beautiful, longing faces, eager to make a connection. Our minds, like pinball machines, bounced from one emotion to the next. In scene after striking scene, our hearts swelled, winced—broke.
We were stirred to go deep with ourselves and with each other in an attempt to process all we were experiencing. With anxious eyes, we asked at our evening debrief what we could possibly do to make a difference here—or anywhere in a world so strangulated by poverty. Our leaders, Ken and Matt (whose personal commitment to Nicaragua is profound), encouraged us to rejoice in the fact that each of us at MorningStar, whatever our role, is contributing to the health and progress so evident at Casa Bernabe.
We were thrilled to bring Pastor Earl (director of the orphanage) $52,696 in donations, which paid to reengineer the building that will now serve as a Vocational Center, and also lay a new roof on the administrative office. We toted $500 in therapeutic supplies for what will be the Sensory Room at the Center, a place where counselors can help children work through their traumatic histories—and mend. In a spontaneous burst of affection for the 20 locals who labored alongside us in the humidity, Drew Ostransky and Blake Smith (through Facebook) raised an additional $1200 in two days to cover their week’s wages.
Now, with the efforts of that impactful week complete, we are left with the persisting call to keep caring, keep investing our time, talent and treasure wherever it can serve and uplift others. Ken exhorts us to be “People of the Possible,” moving forward together to change this mountain called Poverty into a mountain of Hope—one child at a time. After all, we are MorningStar. Bringing light and healing is what we do.
Argentum’s “Senior Living Executive” magazine featured an article on the Home Office’s trip to Nicaragua in its January/February 2017 issue. See more here, including a photo of our team of 15 with some of the orphans of Casa Bernabe:
Herculean Efforts in the Name of Love
Love does go the extra mile. Three valiant men from MorningStar Senior Living each pedaled a “Century Ride” in the name of love. That’s 100 miles for each cyclist in the name of 50 kids who live at Casa Bernabe, an orphanage MorningStar supports in Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua.
And while only three from MorningStar rode on September 30, many more wrapped themselves into the excitement of this Nicaraguan fundraiser. Matt Turner, Mike DeGiovanni and Gary Burk, collectively, stopped for a breather (and raucous encouragement) at 12 MorningStar homes on their routes.
In Phoenix, Gary (Regional Sales Director) began at MorningStar of Fountain Hills on the east side of the valley, then to MorningStar at Arcadia in central Phoenix, finishing at MorningStar at Arrowhead in the west, Maneuvering city roads, the Arizona heat and hilly terrain, Gary had many obstacles to overcome. And so he did—with his signature grin and good humor.
Meanwhile his colleagues Matt and Mike took on Colorado. Mike biked from MorningStar of Fort Collins to MorningStar of Boulder, then to the construction site of MorningStar of Arvada, finishing up at MorningStar of Wheat Ridge, where he serves as Executive Chef. For his part, Matt (Managing Partner) conquered Metro Denver: MorningStar at Dayton Place (Aurora), MorningStar at Jordan (Centennial), Parker Senior Living by MorningStar, MorningStar at RidgeGate (Lone Tree), MorningStar of Littleton, and finally, in a climatic moment, just as Mike pedaled in from the opposite direction: MorningStar of Wheat Ridge.
MorningStar Participates in Eleven “Walk to End Alzheimer’s” Events Across Western U.S.
MorningStar teams walked in joyful, confident strides, at the 2016 “Walk to End Alzheimer’s” from August through November across the cities in which we have communities. This 5K Walk is the world’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research. And MorningStar was there, and how—staff, residents and family members—as walkers, runners, exhibitors and sponsors!
In the weeks leading up to the event, each community hosted all manner of creative events to raise money: paying to wear jeans on Friday, chili cook-offs, auctions, car washes, and jewelry sales. Together, MorningStar gave over $32,000 to the Association in eager search of the cure.
Here’s a compilation video from the eleven walks in which 238 of us participated (plus a few House Dogs).
Love Knows No Bounds: Taking our Lead from our Leader
Part of MorningStar’s chosen responsibility as a company, and as individuals, is to “Give Bac,” to invest our time and talents in charitable projects within our city and around the world. In this, Founder Ken Jaeger takes a decided lead. In 2008, he directed his energies to the orphans of Puerto Cabazas, Nicaragua.
Puerto Cabazas on the Caribbean Sea was devastated first by a Civil War in 1981–90, then by Hurricane Felix in 2007, resulting in the loss of thousands of homes and hundreds of casualties. Today the village of 27,000 suffers 80% unemployment.
To this remote village Ken came in 2010, where he first met Pastor Earl Bowie and his fledging orphan ministry (seen here with Ken). On the plane home, Ken’s heart was clenched by what he’d witnessed and the desperation of need. “I knew I couldn’t turn the page on this,” says Ken.
“So I went to the guys in my church (Cherry Hills Community Church in Highlands Ranch, CO) and formed our first construction team. Five years later, Casa Bernabe has a beautiful girls’ and boys’ dorm for 65 children each (5–18 yo) and a dining hall. The project for 2015: an Infant and Toddler Center.
MorningStar staff often joined Ken on these “Love Knows No Bounds” missions; on nearly every trip, Ken is joined by at least one of his own children. Says John Jaeger, now 23, after nearly 20 trips, “This is where I find my fulfillment. This is where I get my high.”
Pastor Earl’s ministries have extended to a nearby Feeding Center, which gives 600 children the one daily meal that keeps them alive. Twenty miles from the orphanage is the City Dump, where 100 families scavenge for food alongside the animals. And here, through the extended efforts of Pastor Earl, meals are brought, left over from the Feeding Center. Learn more at CasaBernabe.net
Click here – to view an article that appeared in The Denver Business Journal on July 12, 2013.
Please view more on MorningStar’s mission at work in Nicaragua within these videos
Up with Hope
In radiant service to the memory-impaired, MorningStars across our seven states hosted uplifting celebrations of “The Longest Day” on June 20 to support fundraising effort to find treatments and a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.
Following the theme of the award-winning film, “Up,” the MorningStar extravaganza carries the message aloft of “Up with Awareness. Up with Hope. Up with Compassion.” Our community teams each cooked up their own flavor of ‘Up,’ in love and support of the memory-impaired. We had fundraisers of every sort (including pie-throwing), unforgettable balloon releases and plantings, games, activities and petting zoos related to anything “long” (long line, long chain, long hug).
Charlotte Long from the Alzheimer’s Association in Colorado Springs remarked, “I want to tell you what an awesome event your staff in Colorado Springs put on yesterday! From the activities they had inside to the pie throwing event outside I could see the residents and their families had a fabulous time. I especially loved the MIM artwork book that they had for sale for the families. What a special way to remember the artwork.”
Tenderly from Parker Senior Living by MorningStar comes this: “I am always amazed with the strength that some family members have when dealing with dementia in their loved ones. One of our Reflection residents, Hershel, has an amazing wife, Eunice. She visits daily to help him with numerous things and to spend time with him during Life Enrichment Activities. Eunice is never critical about the ladies who hang out with him; instead, she encourages them to be friends. Every day, I watch in awe because she is such a strong woman, a woman I could only hope to be like if I were in the same situation. Knowing of our Longest Day event on June 20, Eunice came in early that morning to make sure her husband was wearing purple. My Wow Moment of the Week goes to this couple, who represent what lifelong love is.” (Jamie Agnew, Parker Senior Living by MorningStar)
We are MorningStar: Aspire Higher
Aspire Higher was the title of our 2016 Annual Meeting, a time to gather as a full leadership team to reflect on the accomplishments and lessons of the previous year, and to look to our exciting future as MorningStar. With this video we concluded an inspiring, aspiring three days together: a lovely look at the special blend of hearts working together toward the same mission to love and serve within our communities and around the world.
“Love Knows No Bounds” Fundraiser
On April 9 in Denver, MorningStar Senior Living was proud to host another fundraiser for the Casa Bernabe orphanage in Nicaragua. Of the many ministries of Casa Bernabe, we were most keen to fund its new infant and toddler center. And that we accomplished by raising $30,000 through the generous giving of our 300-plus guests. The Silent Auction boasted over 100 irresistible items across all categories of essentials and non essentials. Here are scenes from our exciting “Love Knows No Bounds” evening.
Residents Giving Back
“I’m more of a giver than a receiver. So I like to help the MorningStar staff brighten the lives of Memory Care residents. With a hammer in one hand and a stapler in the other, I’ll show up to decorate Reflections (our memory care neighborhood) for some holiday. I get such a great feeling from this.” (Resident and Founder’s mother)
Our residents have lived lifetimes of service of others. They know better than any of us how satisfying it is to serve. Residents in our Sunshine Club think up new ways to brighten lives under our roof or out in the bigger world. Some travel to an elementary school weekly to help children who are struggling to read. Others enjoy making quilts and packing lunches for the homeless, and even help our staff plan group activities. On another day, we may just grab a bouquet of balloons and visit our Reflections Neighborhood, assemble care kits for soldiers, or write encouraging notes to schoolchildren.