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, nonprofit charitable organization of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(3) corporation. Its sister organization, Diakon Child, Family & Community Ministries, was created in 2014 to provide Diakon's wide range of services for children, youths, and families. The creation of sister organizations has allowed Diakon to have separate boards of directors concentrating on senior living services and programs for children, families, and communities.
Mission: In response to God’s love in Jesus Christ, Diakon 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 became a program of 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, which became 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 (now part of SpiriTrust Lutheran Home Care & Hospice).
Today: Diakon offers a range of services for children, youths, adults, families, older persons, and congregations. Each year, our programs directly serve between 60,000 and 70,000 people in Pennsylvania and Maryland.
Diakon 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. Diakon services are available to people regardless of race, color, religion, creed, disability, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, or sexual orientation or any other classes protected by law and in compliance with all local, state, and federal laws. Each month, Diakon programs provide approximately $1.5 million in charitable care and service. Diakon’s annual quantified community impact ranges between $20 and $21 million. Separately from its program divisions, Diakon administers the Pennsylvania Statewide Adoption & Permanency Network, or SWAN.
- Continuing Care Retirement Communities
- Senior living accommodations
- Personal care
- Memory-support care for those with memory-related illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease
- Short- and long-term nursing and inpatient rehabilitation
- Outpatient rehabilitation services
- Rental-assistance housing
- Community services, including senior centers, meals on wheels, information and referral, Americorps Seniors and active-senior adult educational and lifestyle programs
- Adoption and foster care services for children and youths waiting for permanent family resources
- At-risk youth services including weekday community-based accountability services and day treatment, intensive weekend program, and Flight mentoring program for those who have aged out of traditional youth services
- Diakon Family Life Services behavioral health care including individual, marriage, and family counseling; certified addictions counseling; and specialized children’s services
- Diakon pregnancy services
- Family reunification and preservation services (Bucks, Delaware and Lehigh counties, Pennsylvania)
- Girls on the Run® – Lehigh Valley & Carbon County
- Wilderness-based team-building services for corporations, colleges and community organizations
Staff & Volunteers: Diakon Lutheran Social Ministries and Diakon Child, Family & Community Ministries employ nearly 900 people. Each year, the same number of dedicated volunteers contribute more than 100,000 hours of service to help Diakon clients and residents. In addition, volunteers within programs such as Diakon Youth Services annually provide 4,000 to 5,000 hours of volunteer service to the community.
Administration: Diakon is governed by several boards of directors, with a majority of members elected by the bishops of the Delaware-Maryland, Lower Susquehanna, Northeastern Pennsylvania, Southeastern Pennsylvania, and Upper Susquehanna synods, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. One board, the Diakon Lutheran Fund board, oversees organizational investments. See this page for more information.
Diakon Child, Family, & Community Ministries: Allentown, Boiling Springs, Columbia, Holland, Lewisburg, Mahanoy City, Mechanicsburg, Media, Montoursville, New Bloomfield, Pottstown, Schuylkill Haven, Shenandoah, Topton, Tremont, Williamsport, and York, Pennsylvania
Diakon Senior Living & Housing Services: Allentown, Carlisle, Lewisburg, Scranton, and Topton, Pennsylvania; and Frostburg, Maryland.