Cheryl Wallen, Director of LifeMinistries earns LeadingAge Excellence in Community Service Award

Cheryl Wallen earned North Carolina’s LeadingAge Excellence in Community Service Award. This award honors those in direct service, either as employees or volunteers, who demonstrate extraordinary talent, expertise, and dedication in provision of exceptional service to residents. She accepted the award at the LeadingAge Conference in Asheville, NC on May 9th at the Grove Park Inn.

Cheryl Wallen became the Director of Givens LifeMinistries in 2006, stepping in when the founder of this outreach ministry moved away. Cheryl took this position because she felt she was being called to build on her passion for faith community nursing and meeting people where they are in community settings. Cheryl embodies Givens wellness philosophy and is committed to whole-person health – not only for our residents, but also for people living beyond our campuses. Through Givens LifeMinistries outreach endeavors, she actively addresses health disparities of underserved, diverse and vulnerable populations by providing access and connections to resources that promote independence and improve quality of life while helping people age successfully in their homes and communities.

Cheryl works tirelessly through LifeMinistries to reach approximately 6,000 people each year in twelve counties through outreach programs that address social determinants of health. She partners with churches to address food insecurity, social isolation and spiritual wellness through Welcome Tables that provide free nutritious meals, activities, and wellness education. Families, expectant mothers, and grandparents raising grandchildren that struggle to provide basic necessities for their babies and small children can receive free clothing, diapers, and all manner of supplies and equipment though Baby Equipment and Resource Closet ministries. Medical equipment loan closets provide assistance to the uninsured and underinsured and decrease the burden for caregivers by providing free medical equipment and supplies to those in need.

Cheryl Wallen receiving award alongside Givens Affordable Communities VP Teresa Stephens and the Supportive Service Team.

Cheryl also leads the Givens Affordable Communities Housing with Supportive Services Team which includes three resident service coordinators and a full-time community nurse who collaborate to address the needs of our residents at Givens Gerber Park in Asheville and Givens Great Laurels in Waynesville. They build partnerships with area agencies and health professionals to connect residents with supports and services such as supplemental food assistance, financial education, legal needs, end-of-life planning, and health specialists who donate their services to fix glasses, fit hearing aids, provide Medicare/Medicaid counseling, offer legal counsel, and more. Under Cheryl’s direction the team empowers residents to manage chronic diseases, connect them to community resources, work to prevent or reduce hospitalizations and readmissions, prevent premature admission to skilled care, and enrich the lives of our residents.

Cheryl has taken the wellness clinic at Gerber Park to a new level of providing a variety of accessible services to promote aging well for residents. Under her leadership the clinic has partnered with providers to bring behavioral health counseling, palliative care, bi-monthly podiatry care, massage therapy, and acupuncture to the clinic. Cheryl is a certified CDC Type 2 Diabetes educator and is certified in the Stanford University chronic disease self-management program. She does individual health coaching for residents as well a teaching 6 week and year long classes. Her first year long prevent type 2 diabetes cohort of 13 residents collectively lost 159 pounds, logged 150 minutes of exercise weekly for each person, and lowered their A1Cs. Conducting these classes in low-income senior housing communities has amazing measurable benefits for residents! Residents often exclaim with gratitude how Cheryl has changed their lives.