Historical Overview

1868

The Lutheran Church purchases the Loysville Academy and soldiers’ orphans home in Perry County, Pa., operated by the Tressler family. Son David Loy Tressler donates his share of proceeds from the sale of surrounding land provided the institution be known as the Tressler Orphans Home. The institution is to exist “to provide a home for poor orphan children of the Evangelical Lutheran Church and such other poor children as the Board will find funds to justify; to have their temporal wants supplied; to educate them physically, intellectually, morally, and religiously; and to extend over them a wholesome guardianship.”

The Rev. Phillip Willard, who arranged for the purchase of the academy, is named the first superintendent at the age of 59. He serves for three years, being replaced in 1889 by Major J.G. Bobb, acting superintendent.

1872

A two-story addition is made to the main Tressler Orphans Home building; additional land is added three years later and in 1884, a three-story addition is made to the main building. Additional improvements are made over the next few years.

1890

The famous Tressler Orphans Home Boys Band, which toured Pennsylvania and surrounding states, is formed in the early years of this decade.

1892

Charles Widle is named superintendent of the Tressler Orphans Home, a role he will hold through 1923. His tenure is marked by extensive growth. By 1905, even with the orphans of soldiers transferred to other institutions per state mandate, the number of children at the home is 200. New buildings are added, including a printery and industrial school.

1896

A charter is granted by the Berks County Court creating “The Lutheran Orphans Home” to care for fatherless and/or motherless children, where the “homeless and the destitute may be clothed and fed, and enjoy the advantages of a Christian training.” A 105-acre farm southeast of the borough of Topton is purchased, and the Rev. Uriah P. Heilman is named first superintendent of the home.

1897

Ground for the Topton Orphans Home main building is broken, and the first children, Sallie and Clair Carl, who lost both parents to illness, are cared for.

1899

The main orphanage building on the Topton campus is dedicated.

1900

The Rev. Heilman, who was responsible for the Topton home’s early growth, dies of pneumonia. The first “donation day”-later Anniversary Day-is held on the Topton campus, on Aug. 16.

The Tressler Alumni Association meets for the first time.

A dying child’s donated pennies provide the impetus for a campaign that results in construction of the Children’s Memorial Chapel at the Tressler home.

1901

The Rev. Dr. John H. Raker, later co-founded of The Good Shepherd Home in Allentown, Pa., is named superintendent of the Topton home; he serves in this role until 1907.

1909

The Rev. J. O. Henry is named superintendent of the Topton home. He serves until 1945; his wife and matron of the home, Mrs. Ida Henry, later created the Christmas Putz still displayed on the Topton campus.

1911

Multiple building additions are made to the Topton campus, including the Annie L. Lowry Memorial Infirmary, dormitory wings to the main building, and a chapel. Other buildings are added over the next several decades, including a school and residence cottages. At both the Tressler and Topton homes, some residence halls are named for regional Lutheran conferences or synods, which helped to fund their construction.

1913

The Lutheran Inner Mission of Baltimore & Vicinity is organized, with an informational meeting held at the Baltimore Lutheran Motherhouse. The Rev. Frederick W. Meyer is named its first superintendent the following year.

1917

A girls orchestra is formed at the Tressler Orphans Home.

The Lutheran Inner Mission of Baltimore opens a Lutheran Hospice. At that time, hospice did not refer to the terminally ill; rather, the building served as a “Christian home for non-resident girls coming to Baltimore to work or attend educational institutions.” The following year, Sister Zora Heckart is named housemother, a role she holds until 1958.

1920

The Tressler Orphans Home Press-later called the Tresslertown Press-is fully operational. For years, it supplies envelopes to Lutheran congregations across the country. It continues to operate as a private business after the Tressler home closes in 1962.

1923

The Annie L. Lowry Memorial Hospital opens on the Tressler campus, 12 years after a similarly named building at Topton.
Sister Christine Jaborg, appointed a Lutheran Inner Mission of Baltimore visitor in 1919, offers a summer camp to children at a “Fresh Air Farm” near Westminster, Md. In 1933, a 144-acre property near Annapolis Junction is given to the Inner Mission Society as a site for the Summer Home Program. It is given the name “Jolly Acres.”

1924

The Rev. George R. Heim is appointed superintendent of the Tressler Orphans Home; the population of children at this point is more than 300.

1926

The Charles A. Widle Trade School is dedicated at the Tressler home. The school encompasses wood-working, drafting, bricklaying, cement work, plastering, and plumbing and heating.

1930

The population of the Topton home reaches 165. In this decade, the home’s grounds swell to 317 acres.

1934

A large swimming pool is constructed at the Topton home.

1936

The number of children at the Tressler home hits a high of 350; by 1944, it declines to 183, indicative of the changes occurring as society moved gradually away from orphanages.

1940

The orphanage at Topton is renamed “The Lutheran Home at Topton, Pennsylvania.” Services to older persons begin on the Topton campus, when the organization’s trustees authorize the use of the Annie Lowry building to house 10 “aged guests.” Interestingly, some funds for the start of services to older persons came from money raised by Dr. Raker in 1907, for a proposed “old folks’ home” at Topton.

Luther D. Grossman is appointed superintendent of the Tressler home. He eventually coins the term “Tresslertown” for the campus and makes significant upgrades to the campus to make it less institutional. Four years later, he writes that the home must begin to investigate new ways to serve children, including foster care and adoptive placements. A student government is inaugurated during his tenure.

1946

The Rev. Dr. Webster K. Reinert is named superintendent of the Topton home, serving in that role until 1975. Experiencing changes in society that result in the home’s receiving children from “broken families” or whose parents are experiencing mental challenges or other problems, Reinert begins a casework program for the children. Facilities on the campus continue to be upgraded during his tenure and the Topton campus’ school-since the children are now attending public schools-is converted to a residence for older boys.

1947

The Tressler Boys Band is discontinued. With the home’s students now in public schools, and more high schools having bands, interest in the touring band has dwindled.

1948

A swimming pool honoring alumni is dedicated at the Tressler home.

1950

Lutherans in the Harrisburg area form the Harrisburg Lutheran Inner Mission Society to provide services to older persons.
A private residence near the Topton campus is purchased and converted into the “Heilman Cottage for Old Folks.” The campus is now able to serve 29 older persons.

1952

The Lutheran Home at Harrisburg is dedicated.

1953

Recognizing changes in society, the Tressler Orphans Home is renamed The Tressler Lutheran Home for Children.

1954

The Rev. Justus H. Liesmann is named superintendent of the Tressler Lutheran Home. While some upgrades will be made to the facilities during the next five years, the population of the home continues to decline.

1955

The Topton trustees, using a bequest from Elizabeth B. Caum of Bethlehem, purchase a large mansion in Reading to serve additional older persons. Known originally as Caum Memorial Home, the program is eventually renamed Caum Assisted Living; the site will continue to serve older adults for 50 years.

1956

Lutherans from 36 congregations in northeastern Pennsylvania form Lutheran Welfare Service of Northeastern Pennsylvania, based at Hazleton. The group’s initial residential facility houses six older persons; later (in 1965), as demands for service grow, the agency purchases a former hotel in downtown Hazleton, converting it into a skilled nursing and residential care facility known as the Home for the Aging.

1958

The Lutheran Home on the West Shore, Camp Hill, Pa., is dedicated as a facility of the Harrisburg Inner Mission Society.

LWS of Northeastern Pennsylvania receives its charter.

1961

The Lutheran Home of Upper Dauphin in Millersburg, another Harrisburg Inner Mission facility, is opened. Eventually, this home is replaced by Susquehanna Lutheran Village.

1962

The Henry Infirmary-offering additional services to older persons-is opened on the Topton campus. That same year, the first of the Luther Haven cottages are constructed. The Rev. Paul J. Henry, D.D., who as a son of the Rev. J.O. and Ida Henry grew up on the Topton home’s grounds, returns to serve as secretary of the board of trustees.

Acknowledging the changing face of children’s services, the board of trustees of the Tressler Lutheran Home for Children closes the institution; the grounds and buildings are sold the following year to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, for use as a youth development center. Tressler begins to seek other ways to serve children and their families.

1964

Lutheran Social Services of Maryland, Inc.-the newer name for the Baltimore Inner Mission-creates the first professionally organized meals on wheels program in the nation. Later in the decade, a variety of community development programs are initiated in response to race riots in Baltimore.

1965

Tressler Lutheran Home for Children purchases a building in Mechanicsburg in which it opens a small group home for children. Over the next several years, Tressler places social workers serving children and families at multiple locations including Baltimore, Delaware, and Washington, D.C.
Lutheran Social Services of the Central Region-the newer name for the Harrisburg Inner Mission Society-begins to develop social services throughout central Pennsylvania.

1968

Lutheran Social Services of the Susquehanna Region in Williamsport-created as an inner mission society in that area in the 1950s-and Lutheran Social Services of the Central Region in Harrisburg merge to form Lutheran Social Services-Central Penn Region.

With the number of children served at Topton this year down to 52, a full-time director of children’s services is hired to look at other ways to serve children. A foster care program is launched in 1971.

The Rev. William J. Black is named executive director of Lutheran Social Services of Maryland, serving in that role until 1992.

1969

Tressler Lutheran Home for Children initiates an adoption program. James Raun, formerly an official with the Central Pennsylvania Synod, is named Tressler’s executive director.

1970

LSS-Central Penn Region and Tressler Lutheran Home for Children begin working cooperatively, sharing staff and quarters.

1972

Tressler-Lutheran Service Associates is formed to provide services on behalf of Tressler Lutheran Home for Children and LSS-Central Penn Region. The adoption program of Tressler focuses exclusively on the placement of children with special needs, eventually becoming a model for similar programs across the country. Tressler begins its refugee resettlement program by helping to resettle Ugandan-Asians.

1973

Perry Village opens in New Bloomfield, not far from the original Tressler home. It is the first of numerous nursing care centers developed by Tressler in the 1970s, many of which are the result of partnerships between the agency and local county governments interested in closing their “county homes.”

1974

Lutheran Welfare Service of Northeastern Pennsylvania purchases the Hilltop Manor Convalescent Center, creating a skilled care facility called Saint Luke Manor. In 1983, a second skilled care facility is opened on the campus; it is known as Saint Luke Pavilion, and residents from the downtown Hazleton home are its first residents. That same year, residential accommodations are developed in six townhomes known as Amity Lane. They later become part of an expanded retirement community known as Amity Village. Later, when the entire village is renamed, the facilities become The Manor at Saint Luke Village, The Pavilion at Saint Luke Village, and Amity Place at Saint Luke Village.

1975

The Rev. Dr. Paul L. Buehrle is named president of The Lutheran Home at Topton. Interesting, in light of the later affiliation of Topton and Tressler, is that Jim Raun, then head of Tressler-Lutheran Service Associates and consulting with Topton, asked Buehrle if he would be interested in meeting with the Topton search committee. Buehrle would serve for 20 years, a time during which the institutional program for children ended-in the late 1970s, the state required that all children be deinstitutionalized-but other children’s services, as well as community-based programs and a wide array of facilities for older persons, were created, including the Topton-based Continuing Care Retirement Community, Tower Court. His first year, for example, the George E. Holton Memorial Cottage is renovated to become an emergency-care center for boys, and a new cottage is built to house teen-age boys. Later, this second cottage, known as the Koch-Knauss building, is reconfigured to offer apartments for older persons.

Tressler’s Refugee Services program is heavily involved in the placement of Vietnamese refugees as a result of the Boat Lift and Operation Baby Lift, through which Tressler finds homes for more than 200 children from the An Lac orphanage near Saigon.

LWS of Northeastern Pennsylvania begins to offer support and counseling services, preventive and training skills to clergy and laity in its 10-county region. Originally called the Division for Parish Resources, this program grows to become Genesis, still an agency service, and Life Enrichment Services.

1976

The Lutheran Home at Topton receives the Senior Neighborhood Centers contract for Berks County, with responsibility for senior centers, social programs, and meals on wheels.

Frey Village, one of Tressler’s larger facilities, opens on the site of the former Emaus Orphan House in Middletown, Pa.

In response to the deinstitutionalization of children at the former White Hill youth center near Camp Hill, Tressler develops a foster-care based Alternative Living Program. Eventually, this becomes the Community Treatment Program, which in turn becomes the TresslerCare continuum of youth services.

1977

Family Life Services of The Lutheran Home at Topton is created, as a significant way of increasing services to the larger community. Its services include counseling, pastoral care teams, consultation, employee assistance programs, and drug and alcohol services and interventions.

The Rev. Harold Haas is named president of Tressler-Lutheran Service Associates.

Tressler receives multiple state contracts to provide refugee services in much of Pennsylvania. A statewide telephone Hot Line is established; this service will operate until 1982.

1978

The Lutheran Home at Topton is operating numerous community living centers for children in Berks, Lehigh, and Northampton counties. This expanded community-based service to children is the result of deinstitutionalization of care for children, as well as the earlier transfer by the Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod of Lutheran Children’s and Family Services to the Topton home.

LWS receives a three-year demonstration grant from the former U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare to establish a hospice program. Hospice Saint John becomes one of the first professionally organized hospices in the country and grows to become the extensive service it is today.

1981

TresslerCare launches its Wilderness Challenge course, the first of its wilderness-based programs for adjudicated delinquent and dependent youths.

1982

The Luther Meadows rental-subsidized housing building is dedicated on the Topton campus; eight years later, a second, similar facility known as Heilman House is completed.

1983

Luther Crest, a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Allentown, is dedicated.

Lutheran Employment Training Services, or LETS, is begun by Lutheran Social Services of Maryland, Inc. Other LSS of Maryland programs include community counseling services-begun in 1962-and in-home care.

Lutherwood, a HUD rental-subsidized facility begun by LWS, opens in Scranton, Pa.

1985

The Topton home adds a home health services program.

Tressler purchases-rather than builds-its 10th retirement village, Penn Lutheran Village at Selinsgrove, Pa.

The Rev. Dr. Thomas W. Hurlocker is named president of Tressler Lutheran Services. He will serve until 2000 when Diakon Lutheran Social Ministries is formed and he retires.

1988

Tressler-Lutheran Service Associates and LSS-Central Penn Region merge to form Tressler Lutheran Services. Tressler Lutheran Children & Family Services (a newer name for the Tressler Lutheran Home for Children) becomes the Tressler Lutheran Fund, a supporting organization. Tressler moves into its new headquarters near Mechanicsburg.
Tressler opens the Good News Children’s Day Care Center in Baltimore, part of an effort to expand services in urban areas.

1992

The Lutheran Inner Mission Society of Berks and Schuylkill and The Lutheran Home at Topton merge.

1993

The Lutheran Home at Topton begins a major capital campaign, the result of which is the renovation of a section of the retirement facility into the Buehrle Center for Assisted Living. Later, as the result of a significant contribution, a section of the center is developed to provide SpecialCare for assisted-living residents with Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive impairments. This is known as the Timothy M. Breidegam Center.

Tressler celebrates its 125th anniversary with a variety of events including a walk by a TresslerCare Wilderness School youth from the former Tressler Orphans Home to Tressler’s headquarters near Mechanicsburg.

1994

Lutheran Social Services of Maryland becomes a subsidiary organization of Tressler Lutheran Services known as Tressler Lutheran Services of Maryland, Inc.
Family and Children’s Service of Lycoming County, which shared office space with Tressler Counseling Services of Williamsport for years, merges operations with Tressler.

1995

The Rev. Daun E. McKee, Ph.D., is named president and CEO of The Lutheran Home at Topton. He had served for nearly 20 years as president/CEO of Allegheny Lutheran Social Ministries, based at Hollidaysburg.

Kairos Health Systems, Inc., is created by several Lutheran agencies, including both Topton and Tressler. The goal of Kairos is to negotiate managed-care contracts on behalf of the stake-holder agencies.

LWS of Northeastern Pennsylvania launches its KidzStuff before- and after-school program in Monroe County.

1996

The Lutheran Home at Topton celebrates its 100th anniversary with a variety of events including a professionally filmed movie about the orphanage’s origin.

LWS of Northeastern Pennsylvania begins the Weinberg House, an assisted living program for the terminally ill.

1997

The Lutheran Home at Topton and Lutheran Welfare Service of Northeastern Pennsylvania affiliate to form Lutheran Services Northeast to provide services on their behalf.

Tressler Lutheran Services of Maryland, Inc., drops its subsidiary status as it merges with Tressler Lutheran Services.

Visiting Nurses Association of the Lehigh Valley-which dates to 1947-affiliates with Lutheran Services Northeast under the name of Visiting Nurses Northeast.

1998

The boards of directors of Lutheran Services Northeast and Tressler Lutheran Services agree to begin talks aimed at affiliation of the two organizations.

The LSN board of directors approves an agreement to purchase a former nursing care center in East Stroudsburg for renovation into an assisted living facility, to be known as Pocono Lutheran Village.

Susquehanna Lutheran Village, the first Tressler facility to adopt the Eden Alternative, becomes the first long-term care facility in the nation to receive the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organization’s Codman Award. The award recognizes the use of outcomes measurement in assuring quality care.

LSN purchases the Manatawny Manor retirement campus in Pottstown. The facility offers skilled nursing care, assisted living services, SpecialCare for those with cognitive impairments, and adult day services.

Tressler breaks ground in Salisbury, Md., for a retirement community to be known as The Lutheran Village at Harbor Pointe. The campus will include senior housing accommodations and assisted-living accommodations.

1999

The boards of directors of Lutheran Services Northeast and Tressler Lutheran Services unanimously approve the affiliation of the two organizations.

The Lutheran Center in Baltimore is dedicated. Located on the grounds of Christ Lutheran Church, Inner Harbor, the six-story building houses the offices of Lutheran Immigration & Refugee Service, Lutheran World Relief, the Delaware-Maryland Synod, and, initially, Tressler Adoption Services and Community Ministries. These two Diakon programs later relocate to other Baltimore-area offices.

Family Life Services of The Lutheran Home at Topton begins significant expansion of its services into the “Northern Tier” of the LSN territory.
Luther Ridge at Seiders Hill opens near Pottsville. The state-of-the-art assisted living facility replaces operations in a leased facility opened in 1991.

2000

Diakon Lutheran Social Ministries is born, with the Rev. Daun E. McKee as president/CEO. The Diakon board of directors adopts a policy model of governance.

With service drastically curtailed by changes in reimbursement, Visiting Nurses Northeast is merged with Sacred Heart Home Health Care Services in Allentown, forming Sacred Heart Visiting Nurses.

Hospice Saint John becomes the health system’s preferred provider of hospice services.

Diakon Lutheran Social Ministries receives a five-year contract to operate Pennsylvania’s StateWide Adoption Network, or SWAN.

The agency launches Diakon University, a career-track training program for direct-care staff, primarily in Retirement & Health Care Services.

2001

Diakon opens Pocono Lutheran Village, an 80-unit assisted living center in East Stroudsburg, Pa.

Faced with the challenges of a changing marketplace, declining reimbursements, and increased competition, Diakon begins an aggressive advertising campaign and undertakes a substantial turn-around plan to stabilize finances in the new millennium. The effort includes the outsourcing of dietary and housekeeping/laundry staff at senior living communities as well as the closing of several Congregation, Children, & Family Services programs that had posted deficits for years and that offered services readily available elsewhere within the community. By October, the plan begins to show positive cash-flow results, with similar results continuing throughout 2002. The agency moves from a $14 million deficit in 2001 to the generation in 2002 of $3 million in excess revenue over expenses, critical to long-term success in serving more people, the goal of Diakon’s creation.

Diakon works through Lutheran Disaster Relief services to begin a program offering respite care to clergy and their families who have been affected by the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

2002

Diakon breaks ground for a $2-plus million capital expansion at the TresslerCare Wilderness Center to include new housing facilities, a state-of-the-art greenhouse (used as part of the wastewater-treatment system), and a new classroom/gymnasium building. The campaign reaches the halfway point by the end of the year.

Diakon’s corporate office relocates from Old Main on The Lutheran Home at Topton campus to the third floor of the Medical Arts Building at Luther Crest in Allentown; some support offices continue to be based at Mechanicsburg.

The agency conducts an extensive study to reposition Retirement & Health Care Services campuses to meet the demands of the changing health-care market. Several task forces are charged with making recommendations on how to offer “21st Century Housing.”

2003

Diakon’s four adult day services centers are relocated administratively from Retirement & Health Care Services to Congregation, Children, & Family Services as part of continuing efforts to increase the agency’s community outreach services. Other Congregation, Children, & Family Services programs are “re-branded” as a way of promoting Diakon system-wide services.

Diakon purchases Cumberland Crossings Retirement Community from the Carlisle Area Health & Wellness Foundation. The Continuing Care Retirement Community consists of 115 units of senior living accommodations, 45 assisted living units, and 59 skilled-care beds.

2004

Hospice Saint John expands it services by developing a palliative care program.
Diakon creates a pilot project known as Diakon Help at Home, a fee-for-service program that helps older adults remain independent and in their own homes. Initial efforts in the Reading area are very successful.

Diakon dedicates the refurbished and expanded Wilderness Center.

Diakon announces plans to renovate and expand Luther Crest in Allentown to include two new housing communities on the senior living campus, as well as expanded apartments.

Diakon discontinues Refugee and Immigration Services, an agency program since the 1970s. A precipitous drop in refugee admissions following the 9/11/01 attacks on the United States resulted in the change. The program change is effective in early spring 2005. Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service later retains the Baltimore operation.

2005

Diakon pledges $100,000 to Lutheran World Relief, as well as a match of employee gifts up to a total of $50,000, for relief efforts in Southeast Asia following the December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

In March, Diakon announces the sale of freestanding nursing care and assisted living centers at nine of its locations in Pennsylvania and Maryland to Tandem Health Care, based in Florida. The transaction involves Frostburg Village in western Maryland (though not Frosburg Heights); Locust Grove Retirement Village, Mifflin, Pa.; Luther Ridge Assisted Living near Pottsville, Pa.; The Lutheran Village at Harbor Pointe, Salisbury, Md.; Pennknoll Village, Everett, Pa.; Penn Lutheran Village, Selinsgrove, Pa.; Perry Village, New Bloomfield, Pa.; Saint Luke Village, Hazleton, Pa.; and Susquehanna Lutheran Village, Millersburg, Pa. Faced with significant need to upgrade all of its 20-plus retirement communities and lacking sufficient financial and human resources to make those upgrades-estimated in the hundreds of millions of dollars-Diakon opts to sell the freestanding facilities and concentrate on renovation and expansion of the remaining senior living communities. Tandem Health Care is selected based on how well it had met provisions established for the sale by a Diakon ethics committee; those provisions included commitment to quality care, continued employment of the facilities’ Diakon employees, and a focus on renovations to provide optimum living accommodations for residents.

Diakon later announces the discontinuation of assisted living services at Caum Assisted Living in Reading. The former mansion is increasingly ill-suited to provide assisted living services or to allow residents to “age in place.” At the same time, Diakon describes plans to create a Lutheran services center in the building.

2006

Diakon launches a branding campaign under the theme of Many Hands. One Heart. to help more people learn of the scope of the organization’s many ministries. The campaign includes extensive advertising.

Diakon purchases Twining Village, a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Holland, Bucks County, Pa.

2007

Based on actions taken by the Diakon Lutheran Social Ministries Board of Directors in November, Diakon streamlines and simplifies its organizational structure by merging most of the founding corporations into Tressler Lutheran Services and renaming Tressler as Diakon Lutheran Social Ministries.

The first residents—the Rev. Dr. and Mrs. Paul L. Buehrle—move into Southgate at Luther Crest; Dr. Buehrle served as president of The Lutheran Home at Topton from 1975 to 1995. As part of Diakon’s extensive plans to “reposition” its senior living communities, Luther Crest embarks on planning the next phase of its expansion, Bridgegate. Plans are developed, based on earlier market studies, to begin expansion of senior living accommodations at Ohesson Manor, work that gets under way in 2007, and Buffalo Valley Lutheran Village and The Lutheran Home at Topton, both slated for potential construction in 2008 and beyond.

2008

Plans are made to launch Diakon Kathryn’s Kloset, based on a model developed by a retiring Unilever employee who has extended his mother’s mission to serve those with limited resources by creating an innovative process to share consumer goods that otherwise would have been destroyed with non-profit organizations, churches and shelters. By the end of 2009, the program has increased Diakon’s annual service statistic by half-a-million persons.

2009

As a result of declining placements and other financial challenges, Diakon closes Diakon Adoption Services – Maryland.

The Rev. Daun E. McKee, Ph.D., president/CEO of Diakon Lutheran Social Ministries since its founding, announces his intention to retire, effective Dec. 31. In November, the Diakon and Diakon Lutheran Social Ministries boards of directors, following a national search, unanimously select Mark T. Pile, MSHA, MSW, Diakon’s chief operating officer, to replace McKee as president/CEO. 

2010

Mark T. Pile, Diakon’s second president/CEO, creates a new Leadership Council to widen managerial input. Planning takes place to determine next steps in senior-living community expansion, with a focus on spending available capital dollars on sites that will return immediate funds for continued repositioning efforts.

By year’s end, Diakon no longer sponsor the Mechanicsburg, Big Spring (Newville), and West Shore (New Cumberland) senior centers in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, as a result of a county decision to seek other center sponsors. Diakon had submitted a staffing model similar to one used successfully in Schuylkill County, Pa., but Cumberland officials opted not to accept it. The Mechanicsburg center began under Tressler Lutheran Services’ sponsorship in 1978.

In mid-year, the Foundations Residential Program at the Diakon Wilderness Center closes as a result of declining referrals and tight county reimbursements.

2011

Diakon announces plans to build a replacement nursing care center at Buffalo Valley Lutheran Village, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. Extensive renovations also begin at Twining Village, Holland, Pa., continuing through 2014—renovations include construction of new climate-controlled walkways, new and refurbished senior living accommodations, and creation of a new main entrance and dining venues.

The Brandywine Program, a long-term crisis-intervention program in Wilmington, Delaware, closes. In 2010, the state awarded two of the major components of the program to another provider; faced with operating only an intensive outpatient program, a service also offered by other organizations locally, Diakon makes the difficult decision to end the smaller program.

2012

Diakon’s senior management team, faced with the worldwide financial challenges, declining reimbursements, and senior living census issues related to the housing market, focuses on what it terms “core” ministries and ensuring their growth; as a result, the organization closes Diakon Adult Day Services at Mountain Glade in western Maryland and transitions operations of Diakon Inroads Employee Assistance Program, acquired in 2008, and the Diakon KidzStuff child-care program in Baltimore to other social service providers.

Diakon intergrates its Diakon Hospice Saint John, Diakon Home Health, and Diakon Help at Home services with Lutheran Home Care & Hospice, a subsidiary organization of Lutheran Social Services of South Central Pennsylvania, a sister agency of Diakon’s based in York, Pennsylvania (now known as SpiriTrust Lutheran). The integration—with Diakon assuming a minority stake in the LHCH program—is designed to expand home-based services on behalf of both organizations and take advantage of Lutheran Home Care &
Hospice’s longer-term experience in home health care and in-home supportive services.

Diakon breaks ground May 1 for the $14 million replacement nursing care center at Buffalo Valley Lutheran Village, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.

As part of its expansion and renovation project at Luther Crest, Diakon breaks ground Oct. 2 for a $7.5 million renovation of the Allentown, Pa., senior living community’s personal care and health care centers. The project includes a reconfiguration of personal care accommodations to create 13 “beds” for those with memory-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.

2013

Following several years of significant financial losses in personal care at Pocono Lutheran Village—along with less-than-anticipated response to a plan to offer Senior LivingPlus, a catered living-style option on the third floor of the building—Diakon announces plans to close the East Stroudsburg personal care community. Seeing the news, a group of local neurologists, planning to develop a secure memory-support unit, purchases the community, keeping open the personal care unit while focusing on plans for additional services.

Diakon opens its neighborhood-concept health care center at Buffalo Valley Lutheran Village, Lewisburg.

2014

Diakon creates a new corporation, Diakon Child, Family & Community Ministries, and, effective July 1, moves all children and family programs into the new organization. While the change is to be largely invisible to constituents, the transition allows for the development of a separate board of directors to focus on expansion of and support for the child and family programs.

Emphases on sales processes and continuing capital investment in senior living communities result in a significant turn-around in occupancy trends at Diakon senior living communities, helping to ensure continued growth and capital investment.

Diakon relocates some of its Ministry Support staff members from leased space at 960 Century Drive, Mechanicsburg, Pa.—the former Tressler headquaters—where adoption and foster care and Diakon Family Life Services programs remain—to a renovated building on the campus of Frey Village, Middletown, Pennsylvania, resulting in significant savings over time.

2015

Two longer-term programs end: The Diakon 30-Day Wilderness Challenge course, one of the original Diakon Wilderness Center programs, closes in spring 2015 as a result of declining referrals for the program. Diakon Family Life Services – Northeastern Pennsylvania, Topton, is phased out around the same time, primarily because of an inability to transition the counseling program from a sliding-scale fee-for-service offer to a behavioral health model included in managed-care contracts.

Diakon concludes its successful work as a partner in Lutheran Disaster Response in Crisfield, Maryland, devastated by Super Storm Sandy in late 2012. Diakon is now the Lutheran Disaster Response partner in three synods: Upper and Lower Susquehanna and Delaware-Maryland.

Diakon receives its fourth five-year contract from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to manage the Statewide Adoption & Permanency Network, known as SWAN. Since the initial awarding of management of the network in 2000, Diakon—with partner Family Design Resources—has overseen significant growth in SWAN including creation of a “permanency toolkit” for adoption agencies, development of county-based legal services to assist in foster care and adoption, revision of standards and establishment of a single-record online information portal, streamlining foster care and adoption efforts.

2016

Diakon closes Diakon Kathryn’s Kloset in Baltimore. The difficult decision is made because of the closure several years before of the manufacturing and then warehousing facilities of a key product partner and because of significant changes in the way donor-corporations warehouse products in large central distribution centers. Those changes resulted in a significant decline in the amount of products distributed in 2015.

Diakon expands rehabilitation services at Frey Village, Middletown, by building and opening a short-term rehabilitation suite and breaks ground at Buffalo Valley Lutheran Village, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, for a new phase of senior living homes.

Diakon breaks ground for an $8.2 million renovation project in Old Main on The Lutheran Home at Topton campus, to create a “Center for Permanency” related to adoption and foster care. The work also will entail relocation of Ministry Support offices from Allentown to Old Main. The project is slated to be completed by late 2017.

2017 

Diakon begins to develop plans to celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2018.

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