Ron Christensen, who lives and volunteers at Heartwood in Crosby, Minn, has received the 2023 Caritas Award. The award was presented by Presbyterian Association of Homes & Services for the Aging (PAHSA), a national association of Presbyterian faith-based organizations serving older adults. Presbyterian Homes & Services (PHS) is a member of PAHSA.
PAHSA Board Chair Lynn O’Connor explained, “The Caritas Award recognizes an individual or group serving among PAHSA’s members who exemplifies the Christian virtue to love God and neighbor.”
Ron was nominated by Heartwood resident Dee Davidson, who credits Ron with creating and leading the Safe Check program for independent living residents at Heartwood. Safe Check is a service provided by resident volunteers to check on their neighbors.
Dee wrote: “Safe Check is managed and staffed entirely by resident volunteers. Ron’s work and dedication to this program fosters a culture of wellbeing and neighborly care.”
At least once daily, Safe Check volunteers go to the apartment doors of independent living residents who have subscribed to the service. The volunteer checks outside the door for an “I’m okay” tag to verify the resident’s wellbeing since the last check. If the tag is not displayed as expected, the volunteer will knock on the door or summon help if the situation warrants.
Dee shared that Ron also serves as a Bible study leader. “In this lay ministry, he provides residents with vision, support and direction toward growing their faith in God through reading the Bible daily,” she wrote.
Heartwood Campus Administrator Daren Rife endorsed Dee’s nomination saying, “Ron’s care for residents living in the independent apartments at Heartwood shows that he is a compassionate person who wants to honor God by keeping those around him safe.”
Daren joined Cindy Ray, executive director of PAHSA, and Duane Larson, vice president of PHS to present Ron with a heart-shaped crystal trophy, engraved with his name and community.
Daren said, “Residents are proud of the extra effort Ron has put into their well-being and are happy that his concern for them is recognized.”
Along with the trophy, PAHSA will donate to the Presbyterian Homes Foundation in Ron’s honor.
Watch the Caritas Award presentation
Accepting the award, Ron said, “I am so honored to receive this award, but it’s really recognition for all the volunteers of our Safe Check program.” He said that his faith motivated him to develop the program. “For me, loving my neighbor is loving God,” he explained. “Safe Check is a way to love and care for our neighbors—it’s that simple.”
The award is supported by the generosity of PAHSA sponsor Hamlin Capital Advisors. PAHSA received nine nominations for the 2023 award.
Nominations for the 2024 Caritas Award will open next summer.
Read more about the Caritas Award