St. John's Lutheran Church in McCandless Launches Healthy Eatery for Seniors

Published: Friday, October 07, 2016

By: Tony LaRussa, Tribune Review staff writer

There are plenty of places in McCandless for retirees to meet friends for breakfast or sit around, shooting the breeze.

But the pastor of a local church in hoping to give seniors a healthy alternative to calorie-laden meals and sedimentary mornings.

St. John’s Lutheran Church of Highland recently launched a Healthy Start Café featuring nutritional snacks, low-impact exercise classes, health screenings and wellness-related programs.

The idea for the café, which will be open on Monday and Thursday mornings, began to germinate after Patty Davidson, the health and wellness ministry coordinator for Lutheran SeniorLife, was “making the rounds,” visiting with local ministers.

“I was talking to Pastor Bill Diehm at St. John’s and he mentioned that the church had a beautiful hall that he wanted to see utilized more,” Davidson said. “He thought it might be nice to do something that would benefit local senior citizens, so I put him in touch with Terry Mann (director of Lutheran Service Society) and they began putting the program together.”

Diehm said the Healthy Start Café was a natural offshoot of the weekly exercise programs run by church volunteers.

Carole Helvig, 68, husband Chuck Helvig, 73, Healthy Start Cafe participants, and exercise class leader Dawn Andersson.                         

“For several years we’ve had 15 or 20 church members and other members of the community coming to the class, so I thought we could build from there by offering some refreshments for them to start the day,” he said.

With financial assistance from Mann’s organization, the church purchased a commercial “smoothie” machine and some other equipment and supplies and the café was in business. Lutheran Service Society also is covering the cost of a paid staff member to assist with the program, the pastor said.

Diehm said he would eventually like to offer health screenings at the café, bring in speakers to promote healthy lifestyles, and sponsor day trips to programs that “provide some enrichment for the mind.”

“Many of the people who are entering their 60s and 70s are conscious of the benefits of living as healthy as they can,” the pastor said. “So the Healthy Start Café is a way for our church to partner with other organizations to give people another option for achieving that goal.”

Fay Morgan, President and CEO of the Passavant Hospital Foundation, sponsors of the Healthy Start Cafe; Pastor William Diehm, St. John's Lutheran Church of Highland; Dr. Terry Mann, Director, Lutheran Service Society; Jane Bittcher, President, Lutheran SeniorLife Foundation.







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