Dancing on the table
“Well you can do it all, huh?” Joyce Carlbom calls out across The Bistro to Isaac Rue wearing an apron as he sweeps the floor at Lake Minnetonka Shores. “Yep, I’ll do whatever it takes,” Isaac responds with a smile, “I’ll mop your floors if you want me to!”
Joyce, who calls Lake Minnetonka Shores home; laughs and waves on Isaac, who calls Lake Minnetonka Shores his workplace. She and her friends around the table chuckle at the exchange but, deep down, Joyce knows he would follow through if she asked him to.
Such conversations are common between the two. Joyce and Isaac are good friends; a Presbyterian Homes & Services (PHS) resident and a PHS employee with matching hearts of compassion and joyful, kindred spirits. Joyce encouraged Isaac to apply for a PHS leadership position and asked, “If you get the job, will you dance on the table?” And Isaac, in his light hearted way responded, “I will if you dance with me!” Knowing in her heart that Isaac was meant for a leadership position, Joyce confidently responded, “It’s a date!”
Called to serve others
Isaac embodies the definition of a “born leader.” As the oldest of five siblings, he knew he was expected to set a good example and demonstrate the importance of consistent, good work and of following through on commitments. Serving older adults also came naturally to Isaac. His grandparents often took care of him and his brothers and they developed a close relationship. The strong bonds with his grandparents stirred Isaac’s desire to serve older adults. These early experiences would later define him as a high potential leader at PHS.
More than a job
When Isaac first came to Minnesota from his home state of New York, he took on a job in retail just to “pay the bills.” After a while, he recognized that his calling to care for others needed to be fulfilled. He wanted to gain experience in healthcare, having come from a legacy of nurses on his mother’s side of the family. So, he earned his nursing assistant license and got to work.
He remembers a salient conversation eight years ago with a mentor who told him to apply at Lake Minnetonka Shores. Looking back, Isaac sees this conversation as the beginning of his journey towards the purpose-filled profession that would truly fulfill him. Isaac remembers, “Walking through the doors of the care center, I felt something different. I can’t explain it. But I just prayed, ‘Lord, I will trust you in this.’” His genuine compassion and work ethic were evident and he was hired on the spot as a resident assistant in the care center.
Becoming a decision-maker
When PHS offered an onsite trained medication certification program, Isaac jumped at the opportunity to add to his skillset. Whenever faced with problems or process issues, Isaac came up with creative solutions, but his circle of influence was limited to the second floor of the care center. Isaac felt he could serve in a greater capacity, “I wanted to be in the room where decisions were being made,” he reflected, “I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives on a wider scale.” So, he started researching degrees in organizational leadership and attended an information session at Bethel University the very next day. He was impressed that the team of presenters prayed before the information session and felt the hand of the Lord guiding him in this direction.
A “Leader in Training”
Isaac was accepted into the organizational leadership program at Bethel. Shortly after classes began, he landed on the radar of Lake Minnetonka Shores Campus Administrator Rob Lahammer. Rob remembers, “Isaac was an inspiration to all who worked with him. His caring, work ethic and godliness are evident in all that he does. I knew he would be an exciting part of the future of PHS.”
Rob opened doors to opportunities for developing Isaac’s skill and experience and challenged him to take advantage of opportunities to learn and grow. Isaac immersed himself in several committees at Lake Minnetonka Shores and kept building his experience while attending school. Upon graduation in 2016, he was identified as an employee with high potential and was invited into the PHS Leader in Training (LIT) program. The LIT program helps participants identify their strengths as well as areas of potential growth.
The LIT program is designed to give participants experience in real-time situations. Isaac took on a special project focus to develop a service recovery program that would foster trust with residents and their families. His success in the project did not go unnoticed. Soon he was asked to fill in for an administrator on leave at Folkestone, a PHS community in Wayzata, MN. He found himself wearing multiple hats and remembers, “I was new to leadership, so it was helpful for me to experience a variety of roles.” Family members of residents understood that when they came to him with any problems, he would do whatever he could to resolve them. “Wherever I am and wherever I can be helpful, I am going to be there and I am going to learn,” said Isaac.
Isaac returned to Lake Minnetonka Shores as a part of the leadership program and continued his development by supporting the environmental services, culinary and clinical teams.
Two years after starting the LIT program the Housing Administrator position became available and his friend Joyce encouraged him to apply. Isaac was offered the position and when he shared the news with Joyce, she was thrilled for him, though not surprised. He reminded her of his promise to dance with her, she became nervous and said, “I don’t know if my 90 year old hips can handle dancing on the table!” Never one to back down on a promise, Isaac arranged for a pianist to play in the campus chapel so he and Joyce could share a celebratory dance. With matching smiles, they danced in the joy of his promotion and the blessing of having someone who believes in you.
Throughout his entire career journey, Isaac reflected on Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.”
Isaac has set his sights on leading staff and serving residents as a Care Center Administrator once he earns his Licensed Nursing Home Administrator certification. In the meantime, he continues to maintain his nursing assistant licensure, acknowledging the importance of that direct care experience.
Drawing from the passage from Proverbs, Isaac says he trusts in the Lord at every juncture and looking back, can see the Lord’s hand straighten his paths. The love and respect for older adults that he found at a young age combined with his natural leadership and desire to learn, advances him on the path to becoming a highly competent leader who embodies and extends the PHS ministry.
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