Article Contributed by
Lutheran Social Services
Surrounded by family, coworkers, and industry peers, Janell Sluga from the Senior Life Matters program at Lutheran was presented the Employee of Distinction Award from LeadingAge New York, a nonprofit representing more than 600 members and service organizations for seniors and adults throughout New York State. The presentation took place at the ribbon cutting outside the new Edgewood Commons on the Lutheran Campus in Jamestown on June 28.
“The Employee of Distinction Award is designed to provide aging services providers with the opportunity to recognize frontline staff who demonstrate a willingness to go above and beyond to improve the lives of frail elderly New Yorkers. These individuals bring a special compassion and personal commitment to their job each and every day,” said Ami Schnauber, vice president of advocacy and public policy for LeadingAge New York. “Janell has certainly demonstrated these characteristics both in her work at Lutheran and in the Jamestown community, and we are proud to recognize her considerable contributions,” said Schnauber. LeadingAge New York members employ over 150,000 professionals who serve more than 500,000 New Yorkers annually. 16 Employee of Distinction awards are given out statewide and only two of those were in the western New York region which includes Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Niagara, Orleans, and Wyoming counties. The awards are accompanied by a New York State Legislature resolution and vote. Janell was nominated by a fellow coworker and received three letters of recommendation on her behalf in support of the award.
Sluga is a certified Geriatric Care Manager, a member of the Aging Life Care Association, and has been with Lutheran for 18 years. She has impacted the lives of thousands of Chautauqua County residents during that time, specifically with the Senior Life Matters program. The Senior Life Matters team offers a wide range of counseling and services for adults approaching or enjoying retirement, from counseling on Medicare, Medicaid, and Long-Term Care Insurance to downsizing a home.
“Medicare and insurance counseling, public speaking engagements, weekly articles in print and online, and free public events on a wide variety of topics are just a few ways in which Janell helps seniors in our area live better, healthier, and safer lives,” said Kevin Saff, director for Lutheran Senior Housing. “After many early mornings and late nights, she still finds time for herself and her family and she is quite the celebrity at Wegmans on Tuesday mornings,” said Saff. The Senior Life Matters team counseled over 800 people during last year’s Medicare open enrollment period. The success of the program is attributed to their unbiased look at all insurance options available to their clients as opposed to that of a third party broker who is typically sponsored by or paid by a single company or provider.
“I am thrilled to receive this award and I am very proud to have been nominated for it. However, I don’t do this job looking for recognition; I do it because I love it,” said Sluga. “I love having the opportunity to help individuals with Medicare or aging into Medicare. To teach my clients and help them understand all of their insurance options and to work with them through their decision making process is rewarding in and of itself. This is an important part of their lives that myself and others get to be involved in,” she said.
The Senior Life Matters program is located at 737 Falconer Street inside the new Edgewood Commons, now part of the Edgewood Communities at Lutheran. To learn more about the program or for housing availability in the Edgewood Communities, call 716-665-8197 or visit www.lutheran-jamestown.org.
Located in Jamestown, New York, Lutheran’s continuum of care supports an individual’s journey through life with compassion, dignity and respect.