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.

Music Therapy at Episcopal Homes

Have you seen Melissa, Episcopal Home’s music therapist out in the courtyard playing her guitar with an elder or wheeling her cart full of instruments through the hallways and thought, “how fun” or “how relaxing”? You might be surprised to hear that the actual songs and enjoyment of the music are just the tip of the ice-burg so to speak with the work she does here.

Check out this Intergenerational Music Therapy video

Music is a part of everyday life. For elders, music often played an even bigger role as a primary source of entertainment and interaction: playing instruments together as a family, dancing, or singing in the choir. As such, music can be a fun and nonthreatening way to address nonmusical physical, cognitive, social, emotional, and spiritual needs.

imageMusic Therapy in Rehabilitation
One elder had a therapy goal to stand for 15 minutes, a challenging task and one that is rather tedious. To develop this ability, Melissa had her playing a elevated 30” table drum while moving her arms different ways: reaching across to the far side of the drum, alternating hands, playing in different patterns… with live music. While this may have appeared fairly simple, there was a lot going on there. The steady beat in the music helped to recruit motor neurons so muscles worked more efficiently and accurately, and the elder didn’t fatigue as fast, didn’t need as much recovery time, and didn’t perceive as much discomfort. Playing the drum while standing provided the structure for dynamic movement, challenging balance more and making the task more difficult.

imageThe music also provided a distraction from therapy, helped her “push through” when she typically would quit and sit down, and made rehabilitation more fun than simple repetitions of exercises or just trying to stand for 15 minutes. A crowd gathered to watch and started dancing along! Cheryl, OTR/L commented “She is a lot more motivated and willing to do a lot more during co-treatment sessions then when we are working alone”; “she’s blossomed with music therapy”.

Parkinson’s Therapy Group
A group that meets weekly Thursdays 10:30-11:30 addresses the unique needs of people with Parkinson’s disease. During this group elders with Parkinson’s disease come together from across the Episcopal Homes campus to work on speech, posture, movement, and the many emotional and spiritual issues associated with Parkinson’s. One elder in the group stated “I like to think of this group as a club, where we can enjoy the company and support of others while doing things that are good for our body and mind”. Another elder mentioned that Thursdays were his favorite day because it’s group day.

Back in May and June this group wrote a song together from scratch they entitled “Side By Side, We’re Stronger Together”. In the song they talk about the support they receive from the group, what it’s like to have Parkinson’s, and what they have learned and gained in this journey.

Every week they request to sing the song together. Even more important than the song itself though, was the process of writing it. Each elder contributed to the song sharing their thoughts, feelings, and opinions. Whole sessions were spent talking about the issues in each verse or chorus.

imageThe group came up with a list of things they learned in the process: what other people think and feel; that we are not alone in this; we are all different but we are alike; Parkinson’s isn’t going away, but we can learn to work with it and decrease symptoms; we choose our attitude: you can look at things two different ways and can redirect energy and thoughts; we will not give up, we are tenacious; we will triumph over weakness, fear, loneliness, and boredom by being together; it’s ok to ask for help; life is a gift, we should make the best of it!; we have many lyricists and other strengths and talents in our group; and that we can change for the good.

Parkinson’s Caregiver Group
Melissa and Keely Morgan, director of spiritual life, started a caregiver support group for those with loved ones that have Parkinson’s. This group meets monthly the first Thursday of the month. The group meets in Coventry Chapel in Cornelia House 3:30-4:30.

More About Music Therapy
To learn more about the training of board certified music therapists (MT-BC) and the many things they can do to enhance the quality of life of those they serve go to:

A Farm in the Heart of St. Paul

Evocative of a family farm or backyard garden, the Farm will provide opportunities for growing food, learning, and conversation.


Episcopal Homes of Minnesota participated in GiveMN’s, Give to The Max Day 2015.  During Give to the Max Day, Episcopal Homes began its second step in its multi-year project from Landscape to Garden. During spring and summer 2016, the old landscaping between Seabury and Cornelia, plus the south of Seabury will be removed and a whole new garden, The Farm will be installed.

The Farm will produce food and give residents the ability to garden. The entire Farm plan has been developed using permaculture principles — caring for the earth, caring for the people, and caring for the future. The Farm will do all three.

IMG_4087 (1)On Give to the Max Day 2015, a small group of gardening enthusiasts got together to brainstorm ways to make a day special by way of celebrating the campus plans for The Farm. We served home-made roasted squash soup, crackers with home-made herbed chees, and the opportunity to tell residents and family members about the plans for The Farm project.

Give to the Max Day 2015 was a success! Episcopal Homes of Minnesota raised just under $2,000 on Thursday for The Farm, but most importantly engaged many residents and friends. All residents loved learning about the project and we had lots of positive feedback on having a garden, seeing more birds, and having the chance to plant a pot or a patch of their own on Episcopal Homes urban campus.

CTi3ZEFUcAA9hgX.jpg-largeLots of good will and excitement generated to Give to the Max Day! If you want to learn more about our Landscape Plan — Contact Lisa Nilles at [email protected]