Founded: Diakon Lutheran Social Ministries was founded Jan. 1, 2000, by the affiliation and later merger of Lutheran Services Northeast and Tressler Lutheran Services, both of which date to the 1800s. Diakon is a private, non-profit charitable organization of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(3) corporation.
Mission: In response to God’s love in Jesus Christ, Diakon Lutheran Social Ministries will demonstrate God’s command to love the neighbor through acts of service.
History: The Tressler Orphans Home was created to serve children orphaned during the Civil War, and was purchased by the Lutheran church in 1868. As society changed and orphanage populations began to decline, Tressler began working with children and families in their homes. The orphanage buildings and grounds were sold to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1963. A few years later, Tressler began working cooperatively with a sister Lutheran agency that had been serving older persons in central Pennsylvania since 1950, broadening Tressler’s focus to include all stages of life. In central Maryland, Tressler continued service begun in 1913 by the Lutheran Inner Mission Society of Baltimore & Vicinity, Lutheran Social Services of Maryland having become part of Tressler Lutheran Services in 1994.
Lutheran Services Northeast was formed in 1997 through the affiliation of The Lutheran Home at Topton, Topton, Pa., and Lutheran Welfare Service of Northeastern Pennsylvania, based in Hazleton, Pa. Founded in 1896, The Lutheran Home at Topton began as The Lutheran Orphans Home of Berks County, Pa., a ministry established to answer the need for accommodations to house and care for orphaned children. Like the Tressler facility, the children’s home later began reaching out to other segments of society, with a building on the campus renovated in the early 1940s to accommodate older adults. Lutheran Welfare Service began in 1956 when representatives from 36 Northeastern Pennsylvania congregations met to establish a senior care facility. Over the next several decades, additional senior and community services were developed, including one of the first hospices in the state.
Today: Diakon Lutheran Social Ministries offers a range of services for children, youths, adults, families, older persons, and congregations. Diakon’s programs annually serve approximately 60,000 persons in Pennsylvania and Maryland, while products distributed through Diakon Kathryn’s Kloset are estimated to touch the lives of 1 million persons regionally, nationally, and internationally. Diakon Lutheran Social Ministries is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America through Lutheran Services in America—one of the largest non-profit service networks in the country—and serves within the Delaware-Maryland, Lower Susquehanna, Northeastern Pennsylvania, Southeastern Pennsylvania, and Upper Susquehanna synods of the ELCA. Through a cooperative agreement, Diakon also serves in the Allegheny Synod. Diakon services are available to people regardless of race, color, religion, creed, disability, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, or sexual orientation, in compliance with all local, state, and federal laws. In 2012, benevolent care provided by Diakon services amounted to approximately $1 million a month.
- Continuing Care Retirement Communities
- Senior living accommodations
- Assisted living (Maryland) and personal-care (Pennsylvania) services
- Memory-enhancement care for those with memory-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease
- Short- and long-term nursing and inpatient rehabilitative care
- Outpatient rehabilitation services
- Adult day services
- Community services for older adults, including senior centers, meals on wheels, information and referral, and active-senior adult educational and lifestyle programs
- Adoption and foster care services for children waiting for permanent family resources
- At-risk youth services including community-based and day treatment, wilderness challenge program, intensive weekend services, mentoring program for those who have aged out of traditional youth services, evening drop-in center
- Diakon Family Life Services including individual, marriage, and family counseling; certified addictions counseling and intervention; marriage-preparation programs; pastoral care teams; custom-designed programs; support groups; professional consultation; specialized children’s services; and continuing-educational service for church professionals
- Diakon Kathryn’s Kloset, partnering corporate in-kind giving with non-profit organizations that offer direct assistance to people in need
- Diakon Pregnancy Services
- Girls on the Run® programs
- Pennsylvania Statewide Adoption & Permanency Network (SWAN) administration
Staff & Volunteers: Diakon Lutheran Social Ministries employs approximately 2,200 persons. Each year, thousands of dedicated volunteers contribute about 80,000 hours of service to help Diakon clients and residents. In addition, volunteers within programs such as Diakon Youth Services annually provide nearly 5,000 hours of volunteer service to the community.
Administration: Diakon is governed by a board of directors, with a majority of its members having been elected by the bishops of the Delaware-Maryland, Lower Susquehanna, Northeastern
Pennsylvania, Southeastern Pennsylvania, and Upper Susquehanna synods, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. A separate board, the Diakon Lutheran Fund board, oversees organizational investments.
Diakon Children’s, Youth, and Family Services Programs: Boiling Springs, Carlisle, Downingtown, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Lewisburg, Mahanoy City, Mechanicsburg, New Bloomfield, Pottsville, Schuylkill Haven, Shenandoah, Topton, Tremont, Williamsport, and York, Pa.; and Baltimore.
Diakon Senior Lifestyle and Health-Care Services: Allentown, Carlisle, Holland, Lewisburg, Lewistown, Middletown, Pottstown, Scranton, and Topton, Pa.; and Frostburg and Hagerstown, Md.
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