Actively involved with Fellowship Square’s management during its formative years, Leo Berger was an instrumental figure in the organization’s early history and helped shape its future plans. Leo grew up in Ashville, Ohio, moving to Arlington in 1941 to serve in the Navy during World War II. He worked at the Pentagon for 33 years before becoming a founding member and Executive Director of Fellowship Square Foundation (FSF) for 23 years.
Fellowship Square was incorporated in 1960 with Pastor John Scherzer as one of the founders. In the first years, Pastor Scherzer effectively was both President (board chair) and the senior staff person of the organization. Leo Berger joined the FSF housing ministry in April 1977 as a member of the Board of Directors. He wrote, “What I expected to be part-time board duties turned out to be full-time in the day-to-day operations of a growing corporation.”
In 1980, with some restructuring as FSF grew, Leo (who had been an aide to Scherzer and Board Secretary) moved to become the first FSF Executive Director. Leo was heavily involved with John Scherzer in the planning and development of several Fellowship Houses; particularly with the Hunters Woods, Lake Ridge, and Largo Landing Houses.
Leo served as Executive Director until 1990. He was effective and very involved in the day to day operations of the organization. Leo Berger and John Scherzer were a formidable pair—working long hours, dealing with problems and opportunities, and always envisioning what FSF should become while moving the organization in that very direction.
Leo Berger died on September 19, 2020 - he was 100 years young. He lived a full and productive life and will be missed.
No Longer Off the Grid
The pandemic has changed a lot of things for all of us. At Fellowship Square, nothing has been more startling than the realization that our seniors do not have access to the internet. Whether because they are disinterested or have no means to connect (such as buying a laptop and paying for monthly internet service), only a handful of our 800 residents know how to connect and use the internet. Recently, The Washington Post highlighted the digital divide between younger generations and seniors.
For the last couple of years, we had discussed expanding our free Wi-Fi access beyond just the common areas into the whole building. While we knew that most residents wouldn’t use the service, we wanted to provide this to those that currently use the internet, to encourage others to learn and knowing that future residents would likely be more familiar and comfortable surfing the web. We considered this a stretch goal and something that would be “nice to offer” our residents.
But then COVID-19 hit – we closed the common areas of the buildings where we currently have free Wi-Fi and residents were left with no internet access and few options for communicating with staff and distant friends and family. We now know that the internet is no longer a “nice to have” option – it is a critical communication tool to stay informed and connected to the world around us. Yes, there are pitfalls in using the internet – but the benefits far outweigh the risks, especially when it means the difference between loneliness and isolation and engagement and access to your doctor.
We have already started strategizing how we can afford to bring free Wi-Fi into the entire building; encouraging residents to learn how to use it; recruiting volunteers to help teach residents how to use Search functions to find the things of interest to them; and managing the connectivity and performance of a Wi-Fi system to ensure it runs smoothly and performs as expected. We know that we will need increased funds to pay for this service; we know that we will need an army of volunteers willing and able to carefully teach residents safe use of the internet. We know there will be challenges with getting a system this big off the ground, but we’re at an important crossroads of shaping the future of Fellowship Square and elevating our residents from “just getting by” to actually thriving in the face of a deadly pandemic. Please consider how you or your company may be able to support us in this endeavor.
Fellowship Square Residents Support Breast Cancer Awareness Month!
Lake Anne Fellowship House
The Lake Anne FellowshipHouse residents and staff made sure to show their support for breast cancer research and development by wearing pink!
Largo Landing Fellowship House
Largo Landing Fellowship House residents are encouraged to wear Pinkevery Wednesday throughout the month of October to help spread awareness.
Largo Landing’s staff set up a Breast Cancer Awareness table – residents can stop by to pick up a pamphlet full of informative facts about breast cancer and learn how to do a self-examination.
Generous Volunteers Provide Food to Fellowship Square Residents
This month, our generous friends at Heritage Fellowship Church worked with the Fairfax County government and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to supply fresh and frozen food to the Fellowship Square residents in Reston.
On October 17, Heritage Fellowship Church and their army of volunteers provided 200 boxes of dairy, meat and produce for Lake Anne and Hunters Woods Fellowship House residents. We’re expecting another 90 food boxes this Saturday, October 31 for Hunters Woods Fellowship House residents. We are beyond grateful!
As a reminder, we need healthy adult volunteers (age 18+) to assist in getting food donations to our senior residents. Please continue to check the Volunteers page of the Fellowship Square website for upcoming opportunities.
Kathleen was a member of the Fellowship House Staff for 35 years, serving both in a management role and as a Service Coordinator. During her early years at Lake Ridge Fellowship House, she worked as the Assistant Manager and had the distinct privilege of knowing and working indirectly for the founder of Fellowship Square, Dr. Scherzer. In her later years, she worked closely with the residents as their Service Coordinator - helping them obtain the resources they needed to live out their days with dignity.
Kathleen has been involved in several fundraising programs with her church, both as a member of the fundraising committee and as chair of the committee tasked with building a major addition to her church facilities. It was during those periods that she developed her ability to work constructively with both volunteers and professionals.
She believes strongly in Dr. Scherzer’s dream to provide a facility to house those seniors and the disabled who struggle to live in this community. Seniors should not have to make financial choices between food, rent and medical bills. Katherine is excited to re-join Fellowship Square in her new role!
Hunters Woods Fellowship House Board Member
Tierra is currently the Senior Asset Manager for Cornerstones Housing Corporation, a local non-profit organization located in Reston, VA. She has been with Cornerstones for 7 years and has accumulated a total of 14 years in the property management field. She oversees day to day operations, maintenance, budgets, grants and reporting inside the organization, as well as collaborating with outside representatives.
Within her years of working in the nonprofit/property management field, Tierra worked with the senior population on various community and business projects. She is a certified Property Manager, Maintenance Manager and Tax Credit Specialist, and is very familiar with county subsidies.
During her personal time, Tierra has coached cheerleading, soccer and worked very closely with her church leaders on fundraising initiatives as well as hosting community activities. She looks forward to serving the residents at Hunters Woods Fellowship House.
HUNTERS WOODS WELCOMES …
Fellowship Square's Newest Team Member, Jane Kung!
Service Coordinator, Hunters Woods Fellowship House
Being raised in a Christian family, Jane grew up learning that honesty, empathy, and sensitivity towards others were important aspects of life. And having a positive mindset has greatly helped in her work with seniors.
Jane previously worked as a reporter in print media, a reporter and announcer in radio broadcasting, and as the Director of Communication and Publications in various church settings. And as part of her career training, she interned at CHEER Inc.- Harbour Lights Senior Activities Center and in the Bereavement Department of Delaware Hospice, Inc.
Jane currently enjoys spending time with choir members and practicing her singing with a local church. She also loves writing, painting, photography, and staying active in her free time. She looks forward to serving the residents at Hunters Woods Fellowship House and hopes to be of great service!
Older Adults and Wellness
It seems as if Apple is releasing a new phone every month and a smaller, faster computer every year; all of which can feel a bit overwhelming as there are so many ever-changing upgrades and software installments. However, there are also many benefits that technology brings with it and the array of updates that follow. As we are living through these trying times, it is important that everyone, especially older adults, are nurturing their social, intellectual, physical, and spiritual wellness needs. With technology, many services and platforms are available that can help do just that.
The internet is a vast abyss of information, and though that may sound intimidating, virtually anything you can think of is at your fingertips! Now, you may be questioning why exactly is it important for older adults to have a comprehension of the internet and all its offerings? I am glad you asked.According to Pew Research Institute (2017), 82% of adults between the ages of 65-69 use the internet and within that same age group, 59% are the owners of smartphones. Access to these allow for a plethora of benefits including but not limited to:
Maintaining social wellness by staying connected to loved ones
Staying informed on current events
Access to medical information
Ensuring personal safety
Since older adults are staying remote during the COVID-19 pandemic, maintaining wellness habits seems daunting. With applications like Zoom, WhatsApp, and Facetime, staying in touch with family and friends is as simple as a press of a button. Platforms like YouTube, Audible, and Nike, allow for workout tutorials, cooking shows, podcasts, and forum interactions. The biggest benefit, however, are applications that assist older adults with medical needs and keeping them safe in emergencies such as Life Alert, AARP, and Medisafe. Technological benefits such as these, attribute to 58% of older adults testifying technology has positively impacted their lives (Pew Research Institute).
Whether you’re team #Android or #Apple, there is no mistaking the abundance of information to be learned and new doors to be unlocked when it comes to technology. As technological advances make headlines every day, it is important older adults are informed on all the ways technology can decrease their risk of isolation and lead them to fulfil their everyday needs. For even more ways to combat feeling isolated during the pandemic, check out our growing list of online (and offline) ways to stay busy and engaged.
By Tatiana Cherry-Santos
Fellowship Square Intern
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