Three faith-based senior living nonprofits based in Pennsylvania are joining forces to create a new organization with a combined $140 million in annual revenue.
The organizations — Allegheny Lutheran Social Ministries, Liberty Lutheran Services and Garden Spot Communities — will operate under the “Ilumin” banner when the affiliation takes effect. The combined organization expects to serve 40,000 people living in 28 counties across Pennsylvania, with more than 2,000 senior living units on nine campuses and a slate of community-based, intergenerational services.
The three organizations hope to receive final regulatory approval and consent by May.
Though each of the organizations’ communities will keep their respective brand identities intact, Ilumin’s executive leadership will be made up of leaders from all three. Current Garden Spot CEO Steve Lindsey will lead the combined organization as CEO, while Liberty Lutheran COO Joan Myers will lead operations as COO and Liberty Lutheran CFO John Barnum will also retain his title under Ilumin.
Dr. Patricia Savage, CEO of ALSM; and Dr. Luanne Fisher, CEO of Liberty Lutheran; plan to step down from their leadership positions when the affiliation is final, but they will continue to work in the not-for-profit space.
Lindsey is hopeful that he can help foster and develop the “collective genius” of the newly combined parent organization, and he said that the affiliation was, at its heart, “three organizations coming together from a position of strength … and thinking about the future.”
“[This] allows us to begin to cross-pollinate one another to share best practices, to begin to innovate together, to have more opportunities to pilot new programs, and to experiment in different areas and then share the results of that with a broader group of people,” Lindsey told Senior Housing News.
When he takes the reins, Lindsey said his first goal is to help further Illumin’s mission of “creating authentic communities,” and help residents and others live “lives of purpose and impact.”
That will likely include forging new models for senior housing, such as intergenerational concepts in urban markets. In fact, Garden Spot is working on one such project now in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Lindsey also sees opportunities to build new and creative models for affordable housing and reaching the middle market.
“All of those are areas where we’re going to be experimenting and trying new things,” Lindsey said. “At the same time, we’re continuing to do the things that we already do with excellence.”
Garden Spot’s board has discussed affiliating with other organizations multiple times in recent years, but it wasn’t until the beginning of 2021 that the three organizations’ boards began discussing affiliation in a serious way.
According to Lindsey, the conversation didn’t start with the financial or operational benefits of affiliating, but rather, how affiliating could help the organizations better execute on their missions and serve people more effectively.
While the name “Ilumin” is a play on the word illuminate, it also is meant to combine the words Lutheran and Mennonite.
“We went through a variety of iterations and, as we played around with that, came up with Ilumin,” Lindsey said. “From our faith background, that imagery of light is something that’s meaningful to us.”
At the end of the day, Lindsey hopes Ilumin will go beyond just senior housing and services, and help older adults share their wisdom and knowledge with the rest of the world.
“If we do this right, then we start to see a change in the way our culture views older adults,” Lindsey said. “We will be able to do that in all different types of programs and all different settings, but ultimately, [this is about] how do we create a legacy, and how do we make a difference in the world?”
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