Building Community | AGAPE High School

Last month, Episcopal Homes elders hopped on the bus and ventured east on University Avenue to AGAPE High School.  AGAPE High School offers a secondary educational program to teens who are pregnant and/or parenting. This small learning community offers numerous courses, as well as intervention services to help students address other barriers to educational success. AGAPE hosts a quarterly award ceremony honoring the exemplary performance of students, including honor roll and most improved students.  Elders wanted to help honor their hard work and dedication by hosting a luncheon during the awards ceremony.

Planning their visit, Episcopal Homes elders decided to do a little more than serve a delicious meal. They decided to gather a donation of 95 dress scarves, one for every student, and collected donations for the family of an AGAPE alum, whose life was tragically taken earlier this spring.  Julie Niewald, Director of Life+ Wellness at Episcopal Homes said, “We were tickled to see the young women enjoying the scarves, wrapping them beautifully into head pieces…Elders commented on how hard it must be to have a baby, considering challenging home lives on top of struggles to get good grades, and how seemingly-simple matters like getting to school can sometimes be an obstacle.  Many of the elders recalled their own troubles as young mothers, and felt relieved to know there’s a safe place like AGAPE. We admire these young student mothers.”

AGAPE Administrator, Lois Vosika-Weir reflected on the event, “It was fabulous. I have heard such wonderful things from students and staff. Everyone was so happy to have the elders here. The girls loved having the women as guests and appreciated so much the gifts of food and the scarves. It was everything and much more than was expected. I know none of us could have predicted how wonderful it turned out for us.”

AGAPE mission and vision: “…AGAPE does not accept that on average only 50% of parenting students obtain a high school diploma or that only 2% of teen moms complete a 2 year degree by the age of 30 years old. Our vision is to ensure all our students have the opportunity to earn their high school degree or equivalent, and that every graduate is prepared for a post secondary education or training.”

Episcopal Homes has also supported students at AGAPE [and neighboring community organizations like Hallie Q. Brown] through holiday clothing and toy drives.  In 2016, elders, families and staff gathered over $2,000 in donations for AGAPE students and children.  We think you’re doing amazing work, AGAPE, and we are thrilled to help support your efforts.  If you’d like to support AGAPE, consider making a donation HERE.  You may also donate to support programming like Life+ Wellness and Spiritual Life Programming through the Episcopal Homes Foundation HERE.


The Meditation Garden, built in 2008, was designed to be a place of prayer and respite in the middle of a busy campus and bustling city.  As our campus has grown, our needs have changed for this space and updates are due in 2017.  To ensure this tranquil space continues to serve its original purpose and meet the needs of our expanded campus, we are working with a local company, Elizabeth Herrington Design, to update the Meditation Garden.  Seating will be made more accessible for wheelchairs, walkers, and elders.  Plants will be chosen that are native to Minnesota and chosen to fit the size of our space.  The Fountain will be redesigned to make room for new additions.  The Garden will display a variety of smells, textures, and colors to stimulate the senses.  The updated design will incorporate areas to attract bees and butterflies.  Along with the updates, only environmentally-friendly “green” products will be used for tending the garden.

Meet the Gardeners

Elizabeth Herrington Design is a small, family-owned business of three people.  Liz, the owner and founder, her daughter, Lea, and partner, Paschal.  Lea and Paschal, along with a small crew of workers, will make up the garden update crew.  Any of the team will gladly answer questions you may have, but we ask you to remember they are working on a tight time schedule.  For more about the company, visit:

The Project

This project will begin late May and complete by fall.  As you can imagine, this is a large project.  The Meditation Garden benefits residents, staff, and hundreds of family and friends who enter through it each day to visit residents and patients in our TCU.  If this is something you would be interested in supporting, please contact Mary Clem about making a donation: 651-632-8855.  You may also make a check out to Episcopal Homes Foundation with Meditation Garden in the memo and mail it to 490 E Lynnhurst, Saint Paul, MN 55104. Online giving is also an option: CLICK HERE to make a donation.


Meet Matt Demma | Fitness Specialist | Life+ Wellness

Elders and employees at Episcopal Homes extend a warm welcome to Matt Demma, Fitness Specialist and newest member of the Life+ Wellness team.  Matt joins our team with over eight years’ history dedicated to the field of fitness.  As Episcopal Homes Fitness Specialist, Matt will be available from 8 AM to 4 PM Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays for personal training [session rates apply] and a variety of fitness programming opportunities.

Matt worked as a contractor in commercial and residential construction until 2008 when the collapse of the housing market gently guided him in a different direction: a passionate hobby became a newfound career.  And he’s never looked back.  Matt hails from our nearby suburb, Roseville, and also works part-time as a personal trainer for the Shoreview YMCA.  Stay tuned for further updates on personal training, pricing, and details, coming soon from your Life+ Wellness team.


Kinder Villagers join Grandfriends for a little Yoga!


Kinder Villagers from Kinder Village Child Care Center often participate in intergenerational programming throughout the Episcopal Homes campus.  Activities of all sorts are shared between the children and elders, including for the first time yesterday, Yoga!  The children practiced breathing exercises, and, of course, their downward facing dog pose.  Episcopal Homes is passionate about the importance of intergenerational programming: so much so, that we opened our very own child care center two years ago, right in the heart our senior housing campus.  Kinder Village Child Care Center is located at 504 E. Lynnhurst Avenue [St. Paul, 55104]. We’ve recently expanded, but hurry because only part time openings remain.  We encourage you to reach out for a tour or contact Pam Tuft, Director, at 651-272-4974.   Visit for more information. 

Music Matters Luncheon hosted by MacPhail

The Music Matters Luncheon is the largest annual fundraising event hosted by MacPhail. It is a one-hour celebration featuring musical performances and inspiring stories from students, families, and other members of the MacPhail community. Episcopal Homes’ Sage Singers were delighted to be asked to perform in front of the crowd.


Episcopal Homes has been working with MacPhail and Joey Clark for several years, leading the Sage Singers of Episcopal Homes. Once a week the group joins together to sing show-tunes, hymns, and other classical music. Since they all live in separate buildings, they wouldn’t have connected without MacPhail, but now they regard each other as dear friends.

The MacPhail partnership has brought music into their weekly routine, not just to connect with each other, but to connect with themselves.


Donors Build a Village | Capital Campaign Project

It takes a village to create a community. In 2011, when Episcopal Homes had the opportunity to purchase the closing Porky’s restaurant, dreams of past Board members and previous conversations became a reality. This month we celebrated the conclusion of those dreams and many more conversations. In a celebration honoring and recognizing our donors, we unveiled an art piece which recognizes the donors who made our expansion possible.

Jim Johnson spoke about his wife, Lucy Jones, and his belief in the good work of Episcopal Homes and the deep roots of our values and quality. Alden Drew was recognized for his honoring of his mother with The Drew Room, “she served on the Church Home Board for 29 years.”

The donors listed on the wall helped build the physical structure; these donors and many others provide regular donations that help create the community that occurs within the walls of our physical community. “It is, and has been from our beginning, the caring, generous spirit of others that makes a difference!”


Interested in learning more about The Episcopal Homes Foundation?

Did you know… playing ping pong has many health benefits for seniors?



Playing table tennis is a great way to stimulate the brain and promote quick thinking while improving hand-eye coordination. Table tennis is a low-injury risk sport that keeps one fit and flexible and improves reflexes. It is a great way to improve your leg, arm and core strength without overtaxing your joints. Playing table tennis increases one’s agility and flexibility, and most of all your reaction time.

Our Ping Pong table is located in the community room of Midway Pointe and is open to all residents on campus. We have a group of regular players, but would love to see more people join in. You don’t need any special skills, just a willing attitude and an interest in having some fun!

Join us for two fun events:

  • Friday, 2/26 from 1-3pm For Beginners: Learn how to Play (taught by Chaplain Phil)
  •  Friday, 3/11 from 1-3pm For all Skill Levels: Tournament

Interested in learning what events are happening this month?

Check out Episcopal Homes of Minnesota’s new monthly newsletter. 

E-Homes Monthly

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Why is our Specialty Wellness Center Distinctive?

We would like to invite YOU to help maintain your strength built in rehab with us at our Episcopal Homes Specialty Wellness Center.

When it comes to senior citizens, muscular strength is directly connected to functional ability, balance control and managing everyday chores independently. According to research, the right type of muscle training helps maintain functional ability. Our Episcopal Homes Specialty Wellness center addresses just that. We offer top of the line equipment from HUR, a Motion Wellness System, and a Hot Water Therapy Pool.


In our fitness center, our HUR’s health and fitness strength equipment was designed in cooperation with different universities and leading physiology and biomechanics experts. This pneumatic air-resistance technology allows seniors to safely build their “Functional Fitness” by increasing and maintaining their ROM, re-educate and strengthen muscles, increase static and dynamic endurance and increase bone density.

The Motion Wellness System was designed right here in Minnesota. It allows users to focus on strengthening your core muscles and improving balance in a “jungle gym” playful atmosphere designed for older adults.

IMG_3643 (1)Our Therapy Pool Set at 93 degrees to help your muscles relax while gaining strength and balance in a low impact manner. When one exercises in water, our bodies strain decreased. Water’s natural buoyance supplies resistance, supports the body and reduces the stress placed on our joints. We offer open swim and a variety of water exercise classes lead by Certified Red Cross Lifeguards.

Our Specialty Wellness Center is staffed with a Certified Personal Trainer that can guide you to develop a exercise regime that fits you! Mary Hopp, our Fitness Specialist and Certified Personal trainer will work with you one on one to set help you set and reach goals that meet your individual exercise and fitness needs.

If you would like more information about our Specialty Wellness Programs at Episcopal Homes of Minnesota, please call Mary Hopp at 651-272-4929 to set up a one-on-one personal training session or to learn more about our Specialty Wellness Center in St. Paul, MN.

Volunteer at Minnesota’s First Skilled Green House Nursing Home

IMG_2482The Gardens is our new long-term care facility on campus that strives to provide a home-like setting for our elders. It first opened in the beginning of this year and comprises six houses with ten elders in each house. Elders have a private room and bathroom. Meals are prepared with elders’ input in mind.


The Green House model follows the philosophy of elder-centered care. It allows a natural way for elders to receive health care while living in a long-term care facility. As well as striving to maintain and increase the meaningful experiences in their life.

Church Home vs. The Gardens
The Gardens follows much of the same principles as the Episcopal Church Home, which is based on the household model of care. The elders are empowered through choice, respect, and community. The Gardens takes it a step further with their elder-focused approach. These similar models of care allow for our volunteers here at Episcopal Homes to be versatile and maintain a sense of purpose.

Volunteers in the Gardens
The Episcopal Homes volunteer program seeks to promote the mission of the Gardens and enhance the lives of our elders. The elders in the Gardens are in need of volunteers. The focus of volunteers is about what our elders find meaningful to them. This can take focus in different ways such as reading, companionship, sports, writing, playing games and various other activities. These all go a long way in making our elders apart of the Episcopal Homes community.

IMG_4150 What you can do to help
The Gardens no doubt about it offers a unique setting and opportunity to engage elders. So you may be wondering what I can do to help? You can help elders by escorting them to music events and church services. You can also ask what you can do to help.

Volunteer Spotlight

Natasha Brown is a volunteer that came to Episcopal Homes through HIRED, an organization that trains individuals for the workforce readiness through paid internships. Natasha now volunteers unpaid and is a valuable part of our Episcopal Homes elders’ lives.

Why do you volunteer?

I volunteer at Episcopal Homes because of the people. In my time here, I have built lasting relationships with the elders. Episcopal Homes is also close to my own home. I took time off of volunteering for a short period last year and every time I passed by on the light rail I missed the elders so I had to come back.

What do you do here at Episcopal Homes?

I do a variety of things here at Episcopal Homes. I assist the homemakers with meals in Episcopal Church Home. I also help with bingo 2 days a week and various other activities. Most importantly, I spend quality time with elders every day. Elders often offer me advice on life and talk about their own lives. I escort elders to events as well as appointments around campus.

What do you like about volunteering?

Volunteering at Episcopal Homes has allowed me to meet so many people. The elders remind me of my mother that passed away last year. Episcopal Homes feels safe and welcoming to me each time I come. The staff also has been great and I have built relationships with them as well. The Episcopal Homes community has become like an extended family member for me that I visit down the street throughout the week.

rev slide image 1If you are interested in learning more about helping in the Gardens, please contact:

Deborah Ashamu, Volunteer Coordinator at 651-209-8521.