We serve people through a ministry of love, compassion, and mercy in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ

News Releases

A Memorial Day Message from ALSM's President & CEO


As we celebrate this Memorial Day, we honor members of our armed forces who lost their lives in the wars keeping us safe and secure. According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memorial_Day ,


Memorial Day was a response to the unprecedented carnage of the Civil War, in which some 620,000 soldiers on both sides died. The loss of life and its effect on communities throughout the country led to spontaneous commemorations of the dead. For example, Waterloo, NY, began holding an annual community service on May 5, 1866. Although many towns claimed the title, it was Waterloo that won congressional recognition as the “birthplace of Memorial Day.”


General Logan, the speaker at a gathering in Carbondale, IL, was commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans. On May 5, 1868, he issued General Orders No.11, which set aside May 30, 1868, “for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion.” The orders expressed hope that the observance would be “kept up from year to year while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades.”


General Orders No.11 stated that “in this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed,” but over time several customs and symbols became associated with the holiday. For example, it is customary to fly the flag at half staff until noon, and then raise it to the top of the staff until sunset. In 1915, a Georgia teacher, Moina Michael, began a campaign to make the poppy a symbol of tribute to veterans. The sale of poppies has supported the work of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. 


 Several Southern states continue to set aside a day for honoring the Confederate dead, which is usually called Confederate Memorial Day.     

Enjoy your celebratory events, and remember that our veterans are to be honored for all they provide--our values, guidance, safety, and our honor.

In service,

Patricia W. Savage

An Easter Message from ALSM's President & CEO


Easter is a time for rejoicing, a time to rejoice in trees that bud first yellow and turn more green with every passing day, in the birth of spring lambs and calves, in the still gentle warmth of the sun on our faces, in the joyful shouts of neighborhood children, the sharp crack of bats meeting baseballs. It is also a time to rejoice in the renewal of our lives and the salvation of our spirits. Leaving behind the austere reflection of Lent, we lift our voices and hearts in joyful gratitude.

I am grateful and blessed for the opportunity to answer God’s call by serving the needs of people. I am grateful for Allegheny Lutheran Social Ministries, the channel of that opportunity. How wonderful it is to work closely with all those who dedicate themselves to serving the needs of people--our staff team of over 500; our donors, who support us both prayerfully and financially; and our communities, where we have the privilege to serve!

We touch the lives of over 3,000 people each year, and that is a blessing for us. In the midst of an ever-changing health-care environment, we still focus on our call to serve. We still provide hope to those in our society who are vulnerable.

So let us rejoice and show everyone the joy of service.

Happy Easter to you and your loved ones.

In service,

Patricia W. Savage

Greetings and Happy New Year!

A Message from ALSM's President & CEO

Another year is over which is hard to believe. It seems only yesterday that we were planning our goals and dreams for 2016. Where does the time go?

A fresh year is once again upon us. It is the time to be thankful for the blessings of the past year and to take stock of our achievements and short-comings. At the same time, 2017 is a brand new year to start afresh, to start strong, and yet another chance to do everything we want to do this year. Well, maybe not everything but some things.

The amazing thing with chances is how we get them each year. So I suggest you set positive goals and resolutions. Hang them where you can see them every day of the New Year. Be excited for what you will achieve in 2017.

In the meantime, enjoy the celebration, the loud and boisterous family dinners or the quiet meal with a loved one, and the dropping of the ball once again. Do not forget to greet everyone with a smile and wishes for a blessed new year.

Here are some sayings upon which to reflect as you consider your resolutions:

Write it on your heart that every day is the best day of the year.  –Ralph Waldo Emerson

The New Year begins in a snowstorm of white vows.  – George William Curtis

If I asked me for my New Year resolution, it would be to find out who I am.  –Cyril Cusack

A year from now, you are going to weigh more or less than you do right now.  – Phil McGraw

Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to be happy, and your joy, and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties. – Helen Keller

Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one. – Brad Paisley

We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.  – Edith Lovejoy Pierce

For last year’s words belong to last year’s language. And next year’s words await another voice. – T. S. Eliot

I wish each and all of you a very happy and healthy New Year with rich blessings and new opportunities.

In his service,

 Patricia W. Savage

A Christmas Message from ALSM's President & CEO

Greetings of the season!

This summer in Cortona, Italy, I had the wonderful opportunity to stand before one of the Annunciations painted by the Renaissance artist Fra Angelico, who used his art solely to depict the message of God. Here the golden words are actually written in the painting, flowing from the mouths of Gabriel and Mary. The painting dates from the 1430s and is less well known than Fra Angelico’s other paintings on the same theme in Florence and Rome. However, to be with this painting in an uncrowded, intimate museum, face to face—to be drawn into its artistry and to recall Gabriel’s message and Mary’s response—was a powerful experience.

The painting depicts Fra Angelico’s vision of the event described so dramatically in the first chapter of the Gospel of Luke:

26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[a] the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”

38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

I suppose that, if an angel in all its glory were to appear before any of us, we too might be “greatly troubled.” Despite the positive words, we would perhaps be thinking, “Oh, my. What have I done wrong?” The following words must have troubled Mary even more. She’s going to have a baby, and—whoops—short one husband. Can you imagine what was going through her head at that moment? But Mary was special, and her faith was strong. With the reminder that “No word from God will ever fail,” she achieves a calm acceptance.

May we, also. May we remain calm in this hectic season. May we accept God’s gift to us, His son Jesus, whom we envision at Christmas as a miracle baby.

I wish you and your loved ones a joyous Advent season and a blessed Christmas.

In his service,

Patricia W. Savage

Gifts that Give Holiday Shopping Event to be held at
Allegheny Lutheran Social Ministries

Altoona, PA – A Gifts that Give holiday shopping event will be held at Allegheny Lutheran Social Ministries (ALSM) administrative and home care office located at 998 Logan Blvd. on Friday, December 2nd from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Gifts that Give allows shoppers the opportunity to not only purchase gifts not sold in retail stores but also to make gifts to local non-profit organizations in honor or memory of someone this holiday season.  

Boutique shopping vendors include LuLaRoe, Lemongrass Spa, Perfectly Posh, Mary Kay, Doterra, Magnolia & Vine, Scentsy, Thirty-One, Pampered Chef, Tastefully Simple, Pink Zebra, Jamberry, Tupperware, Signature Homestyles & PetArtStudios.

Non-profit organizations that are participating in the evening include Allegheny Lutheran Social Ministries, American Heart Association, Because We Care, Brian Morden Foundation, Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, Mending Hearts and United Way.

Proceeds from the evening will benefit Making Strides Against Breast Cancer and the Brian Morden Foundation. 


A Thanksgiving Message from ALSM's President & CEO


 Autumn brings Thanksgiving, a special day when we give thanks for many things in our lives--our homes, our families, our friends, our harvest, our health. It is also a time for me to thank each of you for being whom you are to Allegheny Lutheran Social Ministries.

Allegheny Lutheran Social Ministries is a faith-based community that focuses on our mission “to serve people through a ministry of love, compassion, and mercy in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ.” 

As we know, the original Thanksgiving celebration was held by the Pilgrim settlers in Massachusetts during their second winter in America in December, 1621. The first winter had killed 44 of the original colonists. At one point, the daily food ration was down to five kernels of corn per person, but then an unexpected trading vessel arrived so the settlers could swap beaver pelts for corn. The next summer’s crop brought a bountiful harvest, and Governor William Bradford decreed that December 13, 1621, be a day of feasting and prayers to show gratitude.

From this date in 1621 forward, Thanksgiving has been celebrated as a day to give thanks to God for His gracious and sufficient provision. In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln officially set the last Thursday of November “as a day of Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father.” In 1941 Congress decreed that after 1941, the fourth Thursday of November be observed as Thanksgiving and be a legal holiday.

In the New Testament, there are repeated admonitions to give thanks to God. Thanksgiving is to always be a part of our prayers, so let me share some familiar passages on giving thanks:

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:6  

“Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men.” 1 Timothy 2:1

Like the Pilgrims, we have a choice every day. In life there will always be happenings, events, and situations we can complain about, but there will also be much for which to be grateful. Let us remember as we “feast” on this Thanksgiving Day, to give thanks to God. May God grant that He may find us grateful every day for all of His gifts, spiritual and material, for “God and good, and “every good gift comes from Him” (James 1:17).

May He find us to be His grateful children as we at ALSM are grateful for each of you.

And may you and your loved ones enjoy a very Happy Thanksgiving filled with many blessings!

In His service,

Patricia W. Savage

Golfers Get Ready to Tee Off at the 19th Annual
ALSM/First Commonwealth Bank James V. Meadows Memorial Golf Outing

Allegheny Lutheran Social Ministries (ALSM) will host its 19th Annual ALSM/First Commonwealth Bank James V. Meadows Memorial Golf Outing, scheduled on Monday, July 25, 2016 at Scotch Valley Country Club, Hollidaysburg. The outing will kick off with a shotgun start at noon.

Last year’s event attracted more than 100 golfers and raised over $30,000 for charitable care. Each year, ALSM provides more than $1 million in charitable care for those individuals with limited financial resources.

The registration fee ($150 for individuals or $550 for a foursome) includes 18 holes of golf, a cart (two carts for a foursome), lunch, dinner, snacks and refreshments on the course, prizes, and special giveaway items for each golfer. Golfers will have the opportunity to compete in skill holes, as well as a hole-in-one chance to win $10,000 sponsored by S&T Bank, a $5,000 Putting Contest sponsored by Thompson Pharmacy, and the chance to enjoy an afternoon of fun in the sun and make a difference in the lives of those served by ALSM.

Individuals may register for the golf outing by contacting ALSM's Advancement Office at 814.696.4523 or through e-mail at development@alsm.org

2016 Outing Brochure


Thank you to our naming, ace and par sponsors:

Naming Sponsor: 


First Commonwealth Bank 

Ace Sponsors:

Benchmark Therapies

M&T Bank

Thompson Pharmacy

Par Sponsors:

Baker Tilly

Health South

Lutheran Trust

Noelker & Hull

Poole Anderson

S&T Bank

The Graham Company

Clubhouse Sponsors:

Keller Engineers, Delgrosso Family of Companies, Atlantic Broadband, Highmark BCBS, UPMC Altoona, L.R. Webber Associates, Stifel Nicholas & the Meadows Family

Hole Sponsors:

Cura Hospitality, MobileEXUSA & WTAJ Your News Leader

Courtesy Cart Sponsor:

Beauchamp Plumbing & Heating

Lunch Sponsor:


Dinner Sponsor:

Sodexo Senior Living

Tee Sponsors:

Associated Office Equipment, Blair Companies, Bill Shuster for Congress, Britz & Associates, Capital Retirement Plan Services, Degol Carpet, DiAndrea Media, Hite Company, Link & Associates, P.C., McCartney's, The Meadows Frozen Custard, S&T Evergreen Insurance, Seltzer Financial Strategies, Suzanne Egan, Inc., Ward Transport & Logistics, Charlie & Linda Zorger


An Independence Day Message from ALSM's President & CEO


As you know the Fourth of July is a wonderfully patriotic holiday. We celebrate the declared separation from the British Empire) with friend and family gatherings, barbecues, parties, games, food, festivals, parades, musical events, games, and fireworks. Such celebrations are in line with what John Adams advocated—that the grand holiday “ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more” (Letter to Abigail, as quoted in Wikipedia).

But here’s a fun fact. John Adams did not have the fourth in mind, but the second of July, the date on which the Second Continental Congress actually voted positively on a “Resolution of Independence” offered by Richard Henry Lee. What did happen on the fourth was the adoption of the statement of separation, what we call the Declaration of Independence.

Declaring independence was a long way from actually achieving independence. After a false start when our founding fathers were thinking more about a confederacy than a union, bringing the new nation into existence via the Constitution took another thirteen years before the first version took force. So what we are celebrating is the expression of intent, the aspirations of courageous patriots.

It’s not exactly a fun fact, but a strange coincidence. Presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the second and third presidents, respectively, both signed the Declaration of Independence, and both men died on the 50th anniversary of the signing.

There are, however some fun and interesting facts to talk about during your celebrations. I found these on the internet, so consider the source before you spread them too widely!


2.5 MillionIn July 1776, the estimated number of people living in the newly declared independent nation.

324 millionThe population on this 4th of July.


Thomas Jefferson changed the wording of the Declaration of Independence from "the pursuit of property" to "the pursuit of happiness."

Slow-moving Congress—Geez. How could that happen? 

 Only two men actually signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, 1776 — John Hancock and Charles Thompson. The rest sort of trailed in over the next month or so. Well, it was a Congress, after all.


$190.7 million – the value of fireworks imported from China in 2010, representing the bulk of all U.S. fireworks imported ($197.3 million). U.S. exports of fireworks, by comparison, came to just $37.0 million in 2010, with Japan purchasing more than any other country ($6.3million).

We are not alone

July 4th is the day of liberation for both the Philippines and Rwanda. In the Philippines, July 4th, known as Republic Day, the date when the U.S. recognized the nation as an independent state. That was in 1946. I guess what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

Towns with Patriotic Names

31 places have “liberty” in their names. The most populous one as of April 1, 2010, was Liberty, MO (29,149). Iowa has four towns (more than any other state): Libertyville, New Liberty, North Liberty, and West Liberty.

35 places have “eagle” in their names. The most populous one is Eagle Pass, Texas (26,248).

11 places have “independence” in their names. The most populous one is Independence, MO (116,830).

9 places have “freedom” In their names. The most populous one is New Freedom, PA (4,464).

1 place has “patriot” in the name (Patriot, IN) with 209.

5 places have “America” in their names. The most populous is American Fork, Utah (26,263).

Fourth of July Cookouts and All those Pigs—Yea Iowa!

More than 1 in 4—the chance that the hot dogs and pork sausages consumed on the 4th of July originated in Iowa.

While these fun facts may enhance picnic conversation, let us take a moment or two to think about the reasons we celebrate – and to thank those who have sacrificed the most to safeguard our freedom.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” Is it not difficult to think of another statement that so accurately sums up the core values of what we believe in as Americans? The sentiment in this single sentence from the Declaration of Independence has motivated Americans to accomplish great things and to make tremendous sacrifices, all in an effort to make sure that future generations of Americans have the freedom to determine their own path, free of foreign control.

No one has done more to advance the cause of liberty than our veterans and those who are currently serving our country. On a day when we celebrate our independence and our freedom, it is appropriate that we also remember the incredible sacrifices they have made. The 4th of July is a time for patriotism, and there are no greater patriots than those who have served in the armed forces.

I wish you all a very happy, safe, and delightful Fourth of July. Enjoy your celebrations, but also remember the reason we celebrate.  Let us remind ourselves that we must cherish and protect our freedom. And let us remember to thank those who have sacrificed to defend our liberty.  


Patricia W. Savage

A Father's Day Message from ALSM's President & CEO


As we celebrate Father’s Day, let us look at the origin of the tradition. Of course, the day was inaugurated to complement Mother’s Day.

 According to Wikipedia, Grace Golden Clayton promoted Father’s Day and the first observance was in Fairmont, West Virginia, on July 5, 1908, at the Williams Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church South, now known as Central United Methodist Church. Grace was mourning the loss of her father when, on December 1907, the Monona Mining Disaster in nearby Monona killed 261 men, 250 of them fathers, leaving around one thousand fatherless children. Clayton suggested to her pastor Thomas Webb to honor all of those fathers.

This event was never celebrated outside of Fairmont because there were other events in the town that overshadowed the celebration.

Finally, in 1913, a bill to accord national recognition of the holiday was introduced in Congress in. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson went to Spokane (where there had been some unrecognized Father’s Day celebrations) to speak at a Father’s Day celebration. He wanted to make the day official, but there was resistance because of the fear of commercialization. Finally, in 1957, Maine Senator Margaret Chase Smith wrote a proposal accusing Congress of ignoring fathers for 40 years while honoring mothers. In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation honoring fathers and designating the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day. Six years later, the day was made a permanent national holiday when President Richard Nixon signed it into law.

Last Christmas my husband and I looked over several shoeboxes of letters that his father wrote home during WWII and the Korean War. I asked my husband about his earliest memories of his father, and he replied that many memories were absent. Roger was born while Roger Sr. was fighting in the Pacific during the early awful days after Pearl Harbor. Roger Sr. collected his first Purple Heart there and was sent home briefly before being shipped out in time for the Normandy invasion. Roger’s sister was born during that deployment, and Roger Sr. collected more medals and wounds during the Battle of the Bulge. My husband recalls his father’s return from Europe—his father a stranger but for stories and the endearing letters Roger’s mother faithfully read out loud. But Roger Sr. worked hard at establishing relationships with his son and daughter. He spent every moment he could with them. He was solid and calm, but now Roger thinks his father’s calmness and silence was part of readjustment. Throughout his whole life Roger Sr. remained a quiet man, silent especially about the war.

So, as you recognize and celebrate with your father with neckties and a special dinner, keep in mind that it took many years for our country to officially acknowledge the contributions of our fathers. Let us thank our dads for the commitment to providing for our families. And for those fathers who are no longer with us, let us remember them with fondness and thank God for them.

Happy Father’s Day!

In his service,

Patricia W. Savage   

A Memorial Day Message from ALSM's President & CEO


As we celebrate Memorial Day, the day to honor members of our armed forces who lost their lives in the wars keeping us safe and secure, I thought it may be of interest to review some facts about this celebration. This information was gleaned from the website, www.MentalFloss.com.


Memorial Day was a response to the unprecedented carnage of the Civil War, in which some 620,000 soldiers on both sides died. The loss of life and its effect on communities throughout the country led to spontaneous commemorations of the dead:

  • In 1864, women from Boalsburg, PA, put flowers on the graves of their dead from the just-fought battle of Gettysburg. The next year, a group of women decorated the graves of soldiers buried in a Vicksburg, MS, cemetery
  • In April 1866, women from Columbus, MS, laid flowers on the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers. In the same month, in Carbondale, IL, 219 Civil War veterans marched in memory of the fallen through town to Woodlawn Cemetery, where Union hero Major General John A. Logan delivered the principal address. The ceremony gave Carbondale its claim to the first organized, community-wide Memorial Day observance. 
  • Waterloo, NY, began holding an annual community service on May 5, 1866. Although many towns claimed the title, it was Waterloo that won congressional recognition as the “birthplace of Memorial Day.”


General Logan, the speaker at the Carbondale gathering, also was commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans. On May 5, 1868, he issued General Orders No.11, which set aside May 30, 1868 “for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion.” The orders expressed hope that the observance would be “kept up from year to year while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades.”


The holiday was long known as Decoration Day for the practice of decorating graves with flowers, wreaths, and flags. The name Memorial Day goes back to 1882, but the older name did not disappear until after World War II. Federal law declared “Memorial Day” the official name in 1967.


General Orders No.11 stated that “in this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed,” but over time several customs and symbols became associated with the holiday.

  • It is customary to fly the flag at half staff until noon, and then raise it to the top of the staff until sunset.
  • The World War I poem “In Flanders Field,” by John McCrea, inspired the Memorial Day custom of wearing red artificial poppies. In 1915, a Georgia teacher named Moina Michael began a campaign to make the poppy a symbol of tribute to veterans. The sale of poppies has supported the work of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.


Several Southern states continue to set aside a day for honoring the Confederate dead, which is usually called Confederate Memorial Day.

So, this Monday, enjoy your celebratory events, and remember that in 2000, Congress established a National Moment of Remembrance, which asks Americans to pause for one minute at 3:00 pm in an act of national unity. The time was chosen because 3:00 pm “is the time when most Americans are enjoying their freedoms on the national holiday.”

In service,

 Patricia Savage


A Mother's Day Message from ALSM's President & CEO


So where would we be without our mothers? First of all, we wouldn’t be. Let’s celebrate Mother’s Day!

The story of Mother’s Day is a long one. It is neither a recent phenomenon as many people believe it to be, nor is it the creation of a card and gift marketers syndicate as assumed by cynics. To the surprise of many people, Mother’s Day celebrations even took place in the time of ancient Greeks and Romans. And Mother’s Day festivities in the United Kingdom began much before the tradition started in the United States. Today, more than 46 countries around the world celebrate Mother’s Day sometime during May. Some countries celebrate it at entirely different times of the year. Mother’s Day honors all mothers and thanks them for the care they give to their children and to the overall development of people.

In the U.S., the story of Mother’s Day began in 1872 through the efforts of Julia Ward Howe, a dynamic writer and poet. An activist to the core, Julia used her skills to promote Mother’s Day. She wrote a powerful Mother’s Day Proclamation in Boston in 1870. In it she demanded declaration of the official holiday and celebrations. Her idea gained popularity, but she could not get the idea implemented. Julia is also credited with penning the words for the Civil War song, “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

Success came finally in 1914, through the efforts of Anna Jarvis and her friends who wrote letters to politicians to encourage them to acknowledge the contributions of mothers. West Virginia (Anna’s home state) was the first to recognize the holiday. On May 8, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson designated the second Sunday in May to be the celebration.

We applaud the efforts of Julia Ward Howe and Anna Jarvis for advocating for a day that recognizes our beloved mothers. I am sure we can all tell stories about our mothers, grandmothers, and also our own experiences as mothers--some humorous, some serious, some sad--yet we all recognize that none of us would be who we are today without our mothers. Some of you on our staff knew my mother Margaret when she was a resident in The Lutheran Home. One day when she was being firm in her decision not to wear her bed alarm, she said to me, “And do you think you would be where you are today if it was not for my firmness?” Mothers always have the last words, don’t they? And, of course, we love them for that last word.

May you and your mothers and grandmothers enjoy a wonderful celebration!


 Patricia W. Savage


An Easter Message from ALSM's President & CEO

Greetings and Happy Easter to You and Your Loved Ones!

As we Christians believe, Easter is the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus, the foundation of our faith. Through that sacrificial event, God “has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3). Through faith in the working of God, those of us who follow Jesus are spiritually resurrected with him so that we may walk in a new way of life and, in the words of some translations, be “born again.”

While we understand the celebration of Easter in our Christian tradition, I have always been curious about Easter symbols and traditions. Perhaps, you have been equally curious. Of course, what I found on www.history.com one would not find in the Bible, but many of the traditions have been cherished through the centuries. The common theme is birth and renewal, a theme that relates at some level to Christian belief. The most prominent secular symbol of this holiday is the Easter bunny a figure in American tradition since the eighteenth century. The decoration of eggs is believed to date back to at least the thirteenth century, while the rite of the Easter parade has even older roots. Other traditions, like the consumption of Easter candy, are among the modern (and I suspect commercial) additions to the recognition of this early springtime holiday.

First, the Easter bunny: The exact origins of this mythical mammal are unclear, but rabbits, known to be prolific procreators, are an ancient symbol of fertility and new life. According to some sources, the Easter bunny first arrived in American in the 1700s with German immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania and transported their tradition of an egg-laying hare called the “Osterhase.” The children of those immigrants made nests in which the creature could lay its colored eggs. Eventually, the custom spread across the United States.

Second, the Easter egg: While Easter is a religious holiday, the Easter eggs are linked to pagan traditions. The egg, an ancient symbol of new life, has been associated with pagan festivals celebrating spring. From a Christian perspective, Easter eggs are said to represent Jesus’ emergence from the tomb and resurrection. Decorating eggs for Easter is a tradition that dates back to at least the 13th century. One explanation for this custom is that eggs were formerly a forbidden food during the Lenten season, so people would paint and decorate them to mark the end of the period of penance and fasting, and then eat them on Easter as a celebration.

Third, Easter Candy: The most popular of these sweets are the chocolate eggs, consumption of which date back to early 19th century Europe. Again, eggs are associated with Easter as a symbol of new life and Jesus’ resurrection.

Finally, the Easter Parade which dates back to the mid-1800s in New York City. The upper crust of society would attend Easter services at the various Fifth Avenue churches then stroll outside to show off their new spring outfits—especially the gorgeous hats. Average citizens would show up to check out the action. This tradition lives on in Manhattan and likely in other areas as well. While this event has no religious significance, sources note that Easter processions have been a part of Christianity since its earliest days.

Now, to these historical notes, I want to add my own. To me, Easter is a time of happiness and excitement. Everything seems new and fresh. The days are longer, and the spring sun pushes back those darker days of winter. Flowers appear. The air warms and turns soft. Children shriek in their excited search for eggs and candy. We don new clothes—or refresh old clothes—to look out finest. There are smiles everywhere. God has given us a new birth through the resurrection of our Savior. And nature and our culture seem to reflect that joy—even with our somewhat silly, secular, egg-laying rabbit.

God’s blessings to you (and go easy with the chocolate)!

Patricia W. Savage

Lutheran Disaster Response

Earlier this week, nearly a dozen tornadoes damaged homes throughout parts of Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina and Georgia, in addition to the storms that hit those areas last month. Many people lost their homes and all of their belongings. Imagine how you would feel if your house was destroyed in a flood or tornado? Imagine losing precious mementos of your life and finding out that you could not return to your lifelong home because it is no longer there. 

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Lutheran Disaster Response program is working with social ministry organizations and synods that serve these communities to provide long term recovery efforts. Please consider helping the people of these communities by making a donation to Lutheran Disaster Response. As the disaster response agency of the Allegheny Synod-ELCA, ALSM will accept your tax deductible donation and make sure your gift will be used to help meet the needs of the people affected by these terrible disasters. You may make your gift online at www.alsm.org/donate - include DISASTER in the subject line. Thank you for helping those in need.

A New Year's Message from ALSM's President & CEO

Greetings and Happy New Year!

When the clock strikes twelve on December 31, you may be fast asleep or ringing in the New Year with a cheer and wishes of a very happy New Year. For some of us, the event will be no more than a change of the calendar. For others, the New Year symbolizes the beginning of a better tomorrow—or at least a fresh beginning. So, no matter what you will be doing at the “bewitching hour,” you surely will have considered making some New Year’s resolutions. Let me suggest a few simple resolutions that are excerpted from an article by Shane Robinson, a contributor to Forbes. If done reflectively, they may have dramatic effect on your health and happiness. 

1)      Smile more. The simple act of smiling can make you happier and healthier, even if the smile is a forced one. This result occurs for two main reasons. According to social psychologists, smiling activates the release of dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin, neurotransmitters that help reduce stress and develop positive emotions. While your brain usually controls your muscles (i.e., smiling!), muscles can in turn influence your brain. The brain senses the flexion of our facial muscles and, determining that we are happy about something, starts to make us feel happier. Smiling is also contagious. Practice smiling at others and see what happens. More often than not, people will smile back at you.

2)      Maintain a fitness regimen. The positive impact of regular physical exercise is widely acknowledged. In addition to reducing stress, fighting disease, and improving your mood, energy and sleep, getting regular exercise and eating healthier also make you a person other people want to be around.

3)      Schedule personal time. We all schedule our days with appointments and other activities. However, setting aside time to participate in hobbies or just lazy times makes us all more productive.

4)      Do not commit to things you cannot do. Do not make commitments to things outside of your comfort zone. If you cannot make it to dinner with a friend next week, just say you cannot make it and set up another time. Do not overextend yourself.

5)    Use your calendar. It is important to use your calendar to stay organized and be sure you do not over commit. 

In the words of T.S. Eliot, one of the twentieth century’s greatest poets,

For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning. 

May you and all of your loved ones enjoy a very happy and healthy New Year filled with all good things that make you smile!

In His service, 

Patricia W. Savage

A Christmas Message from ALSM's President & CEO

As we await the coming of our Savior, we are to be reminded that the story of Christmas is the original love story.

The Reverend Bill Adams, of Trinity Episcopal Church in Sutter Creek, CA shared this sermon on Christmas Eve and I believe excerpts of it are worth sharing.

One of the greatest theologians that ever lived, Karl Barth (1886-1968, an renown Swiss theologian of the twentieth century, was asked to be a guest lecturer at the University of Chicago Divinity School. At the end of a captivating closing lecture, the President of the University announced that Dr. Barth was not well and quite tired, and though he thought that Dr. Barth would be open for questions, he should not be expected to handle the strain. Then he said, “Therefore, I will ask just one question on behalf of all of us.”

The President turned to the renowned theologian and asked him, “Of all the theological insights you have ever had, which do you consider to be the greatest of them all?”

It was the ideal question for a man who had written literally tens of thousands of pages of some of the most sophisticated theology every put into print. The students held pencils right up against their writing pads, ready to take down verbatim the premier insight of the greatest theologian of their time.

Karl Barth closed his tired eyes, and he thought for a minute, and then he half smiled, opened his eyes, and said to those young seminarians, “The greatest theological insight that I have ever had is this: “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”

My dear friends in Christ, I suggest to you that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the greatest love story ever written.

I wish with all my heart that everybody could read it that way, but I am afraid to say that I meet people every day for whom it reads more like a Used Car contract. Somehow in the midst of all those beautiful love verses, they hear only clauses and conditions and the spelling out of all the consequences should any or those clauses and conditions every be infracted.

So, I thank God that Christmas comes around once a year to remind us that God is not in the business of keeping books and  tallying ledgers, nor is God concerned about our status or position in life. It God were concerned about any of those things, then I suggest to you that the Christ of God would never have been born into such disagreeable circumstances as we find in the second chapter of Luke.

No. Christmas is the beginning of a classic love story with all the right ingredients: infatuation, pursuit, risk, and relationship…

But in all relationships of love, there does have to be that first meeting, doesn’t there?

When I was a child, I remember asking, “what if I had been born to another set of parents? I would never have known the love of the parents I know and love me now.”

Do you ever find yourself asking those “if” questions? “What if I had gone to college in another part of the country? What if I had taken a job instead of going to college?

I suggest that if it were not for Christmas we might never have known the intensity of the love that God has for us.

Mary and Joseph, far from home because of imperial rule, a peasant mother giving birth in unsanitary substandard housing…There was no fanfare, no royal delegation. They just laid Jesus in that manger and they watched his little face, and they listened for his breathing. Just like every new parent does.

No…this could not be anything but true love!

True love accepts the beloved for who they really are; God chooses to love us precisely because we are human beings…not because of a favorable bottom line on a social and moral profit and loss statement. Mary and Joseph had nothing to commend them save their humanity.

God had waited every so patiently for One to be born into our world who was willing to finally embody this love that God has for us….not some of the time, not when it was convenient, but in every waking, breathing minute of every single day…..It is the birth of that love into our world that we celebrate.

…. Since September 11th and certainly since the terroristic attacks in Paris, we have been talking a lot about peace and rightly so. Yet peace begins in our individual hearts. Peace begins with the knowledge that God loves and accepts us just that much. It begins with Christmas!

In closing, let me tell you a story about a nativity pageant that like life itself did not go quite as planned.

The youth group at a church was performing a manger scene. Joseph and Mary and all the other characters were in place and ready. They did their parts with seriousness and commitment, looking as pious as they possibly could.

And then it came time for the shepherds to enter.

--- Dressed in flannel bathrobes and toweled head gear, the shepherds proceeded to the altar steps where Mary and Joseph looked earnestly at the straw which contained a single naked light bulb that was playing the part of the glowing newborn Jesus. With his back to the congregation, one of the shepherds said to the person playing Joseph, in a very loud whisper for all the cast to hear, “Well, Joe, when you gonna pass out cigars?”

The solemn spell of that occasion was not simply broken by his remark, it was exploded. Mary and Joseph’s cover was completely destroyed as it became impossible to hold back the bursts of laughter.

The chief angel, standing on a chair behind them was the worst of all.  She shook so hard in laughter that she fell off of her chair and took the curtained back drop and all of the rest of the props down with her. She just kept rolling around on the floor holding her stomach because she was laughing so hard. The whole set was in shambles.

But do you know what? The only thing that did not go to pieces was that light bulb in the manger…it never stopped shining.

That baby in the manger is the light of our world, even when the world is in shambles…for in that baby the Divine and the human cross paths.

The infant Jesus is our living, breathing sign of the immeasurable love that God has had for all of us from the beginning.

Christmas is the living promise that we are never ever alone. No matter where we are in life, no matter in what condition we find ourselves, no matter how far we might stray away, or how unfaithful we are, God, the supreme, will pursue us in love for eternity!

It is a love that never stops shining.

May God bless each or you and those you love this Christmas tide!

In His service,

Patricia W. Savage

A Thanksgiving Message from ALSM's President & CEO

Thanksgiving is the holiday that seems to get lost in all of the commercialization of Christmas. We seem to go directly from Halloween (which is a big commercial holiday now) to Christmas with just a nod to the cartoon turkey and the nagging worry of travel.  In this message, I want to begin by saying that I believe there is danger in identifying one day a year as Thanksgiving Day. The danger lies in an unnecessary inference that thanks are due on this day only. Of course, we face similar dangers with Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and all the rest. Should we not honor mothers, fathers, and all those with birthdays more than once a year? Should we not be thankful more often than on the fourth Thursday of November? Of course we should, and I suspect we all are thankful on many occasions. But I want to push thankfulness a bit further. Just we are to “pray without ceasing,” I believe that we should live our lives in a perpetual state of thankfulness.

I suggest that giving thanks to God is important because it honors God, who inspires constant and consistent gratitude. Moreover, gratitude improves our lives. It enhances our experience of all the good things that happen and lends perspective to the things that seem not so good. Gratitude helps us handle the difficult trials in life with dignity and sometimes even with humor.

In the next few days, we will celebrate Thanksgiving. There may be so much preparation and activity that we will really have little time for intentional giving of thanks to God. When you think of Thanksgiving, what images come to mind? Turkey? Ham? Pumpkin pie? Mushroom soup? Family around the table? Football? Macy’s Parade? I suggest that, no matter which images may come to your mind or how grand your Thanksgiving Day dinner may be, you not overlook the heart of Thanksgiving and that you let Thanksgiving extend beyond the holiday. Take time out of your week, and the next week, and the week after that, to remember your blessings and to express gratitude for them. In fact, take a minute right now to reflect on your blessings. That minute will be good practice for the rest of the year.

May you and your loved ones express your gratitude for all the blessings God has bestowed on you. I know that is what I will be doing on Thanksgiving and for many more days to come.

In his service,

Patricia W. Savage


Greetings and Happy Fourth of July to You!

A Message from ALSM's President & CEO

As we celebrate this American holiday, I suggest we reflect on the lyrics of our national anthem:

Oh say can you see by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave,
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

Francis Scott Key wrote these words to The Star Spangled Banner as a poem, “Defense of Fort McHenry.” He was at the time a 35-year-old lawyer and amateur poet. He wrote after witnessing the nighttime bombardment of Fort McHenry by British ships of the Royal Navy in Baltimore Harbor. The conflict was the War of 1812. The poem was set to the tune of popular British song written by John Stafford Smith for the Anacreontic Society, a men’s social club in London.

The United States Navy recognized The Star Spangled Banner for official use in 1889. President Woodrow Wilson followed suit in 1916. A congressional resolution on March 3, 1931, designated it the national anthem. President Herbert Hoover signed the resolution. I am amazed at the brevity of the song’s status—less than a hundred years. I, at least, have imagined it as being official since at least the War of 1812.

It is a wonderful patriotic song yet known for being difficult to sing because of its range. The advantage of its range is that, when sung by a soloist, not any amateur will do. One of my favorite renditions is that by Whitney Houston before Super Bowl XXV in 1991.

On the Fourth of July, flags will decorate our neighborhoods as families and friends gather (often around the grill) to celebrate our independence. Yet, the flag is more than a decoration; it is a symbol of America’s strength and unity.

According to tradition, Betsy Ross sewed the first American flag with its thirteen stars and thirteen stripes in May of 1776. Alas, there is dubious evidence that she actually did, and the claim was not made until a century later, and then by her grandson. Nonetheless, the flag is a lovely thing. It consists of thirteen horizontal stripes, seven red alternating with six white. The stripes represent the original thirteen colonies, the stars, increased now to fifty, represent the fifty states of the Union. Red symbolizes hardiness and valor, white symbolizes purity and innocence, and blue represents vigilance, perseverance, and justice.

As you celebrate your holiday, keep in mind the sacrifices and challenges so many people suffered so that we can take the time to salute our Old Glory and sing our beautiful national anthem. The last line of the anthem have entered our national psyche and shaped our view of America, “the land of the free and the home of the brave.”


Enjoy your celebration with your family and friends!


Golfers Get Ready to Tee Off at the 18th Annual

ALSM/First Commonwealth Bank James V. Meadows Memorial Golf Outing

Allegheny Lutheran Social Ministries (ALSM) will host its 18th Annual ALSM/First Commonwealth Bank James V. Meadows Memorial Golf Outing, scheduled on Monday, July 27, 2015 at Scotch Valley Country Club, Hollidaysburg. The outing will kick off with a shotgun start at noon.

Last year’s event attracted more than 120 golfers and raised over $35,000 for charitable care. Each year, ALSM provides more than $1 million in charitable care for those individuals with limited financial resources.

The registration fee ($150 for individuals or $550 for a foursome) includes 18 holes of golf, a cart (two carts for a foursome), lunch, dinner, snacks and refreshments on the course, prizes, and special giveaway items for each golfer. Golfers will have the opportunity to compete in skill holes, as well as a hole-in-one chance to win $10,000 sponsored by S&T Bank, a $5,000 Putting Contest sponsored by Thompson Pharmacy, and the chance to enjoy an afternoon of fun in the sun and make a difference in the lives of those served by ALSM.

Individuals may register for the golf outing by contacting ALSM's Advancement Office at 814.696.4523 or through e-mail at development@alsm.org. A link to the brochure is located on the ALSM website.

Thank you to our naming and ace level sponsors: 

First Commonwealth Bank

Thompson Pharmacy

Flagship Rehabilitation

M&T Bank

Benchmark Therapies


ALSM President & CEO Among LSA Members to Participate in White House Conference on Aging Regional Forum

Earlier this year, the White House Conference on Aging (WHCOA) launched a series of regional forums to provide input and ideas for the 2015 White House Conference on Aging, which will take place this summer in Washington, DC. The forums are designed to engage with leaders in the field of aging, older Americans, their families, caregivers and others on key issues affecting older Americans.  

Three member organizations of the Lutheran Services in America (LSA) network were invited by the White House to attend the most recent regional forum, held in Cleveland, Ohio, on April 27, 2015. Representing the LSA network at the event were Pat Savage, president and CEO of Allegheny Lutheran Social Ministries; Roxanne Jenkins, associate vice president of Older Adult Services at Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota; Bill Serr, president and CEO of Graceworks Lutheran Services; and Judy Budi, vice president of Residential Care, Graceworks Lutheran Services. 

Key federal government officials headlined the event, including Julian Castro, secretary of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD); Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; Kathy Greenlee, administrator for the Administration for Community Living and assistant secretary for Aging within the US Department for Health and Human Services (HHS); and Nora Super, executive director of the White House Conference on Aging.  State and regional leaders included Kathleen Falk, regional director for HHS Region 5, as well as Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D, OH-9).

The regional forums are co-sponsored with AARP, formerly the American Association of Retired Persons, and co-planned with the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations (LCAO), a coalition of more than 70 of the nation’s leading aging organizations, including LSA. Participation in the forums is by invitation only.

“As one of the largest networks of health and human services providers in the country, our members help older adults live more independent, healthy, and secure lives every day, in communities across the country,” said LSA’s president and CEO Charlotte Haberaecker. “More than two-thirds of our members provide services to seniors, and nearly 20% of the senior residential living units among the top 100 non-profit senior providers in the country are our members, making LSA the largest faith-based group serving older adults today.   We are pleased to have had such dynamic LSA members in Cleveland representing the network, and look forward to continued engagement with the White House, AARP, and LCAO in support of the 2015 White House Conference on Aging.” 

The White House Conference on Aging has been held once a decade, beginning in 1961, and is designed to help chart the course of aging policy.  The 2015 Conference will focus on four areas:  ensuring retirement security; promoting healthy aging; providing long-term services and supports; and protecting older Americans from financial exploitation, abuse, and neglect.  Additional information on Conference activities can be found at www.whitehouseconferenceonaging.gov.  


An Easter Message from ALSM's President & CEO

As we reflect and renew in this Lenten season, let us ponder the blessings in our lives.  And as we respond to serve the needs of people, let us be grateful that we have the opportunity to answer God’s call.

I am blessed for the many people at Allegheny Lutheran Social Ministries who respond to serve the needs of people–our staff team; our residents, clients, and participants who entrust their lives to us; our donors who support us prayerfully and financially; and our communities where we have the privilege to serve.

Our staff team of over 500 who touch the lives of over 3,000 people each year is a blessing. In the midst of increasing government regulations, decreasing reimbursement, and the ever-changing health-care environment, we still focus on our call to serve.  We still provide hope to those who are vulnerable in our society.

It is my wish as we reflect, renew, and repent, that we also remind ourselves that each of us is called to serve others.

May you and your loved ones enjoy a very blessed Eastertide.

In service,

Patricia W. Savage


A New Year's Message from 
ALSM's President & CEO


As the clock ticks down to the New Year, let’s take time to reflect on the events of 2014. Let us also prepare for all the challenges and opportunities of 2015.

“A New Year, a new start” is a phrase that comes to mind when it comes to making resolutions. Just because the phrase sounds good does not mean it contains any truth. Likely, you will be the same person on January 1, 2015; yet you can be sure the year will change.

Still, don’t we all try to be a little better with a New Year? Lose weight, save money, be more charitable, laugh more, organize our lives better--and on and on the resolutions go. Sorry to say that the statistics for upholding resolutions is bleak. A mere 8% of people stick to their resolutions. Those who do not usually abandon them within one week. Ask yourself, isn’t it unrealistic to think you can immediately overcome a habit you have spent years establishing? And is failure harmful? There is a good chance it is, for to make a resolution and then fail to keep it may damage your sense of self-worth.

You may be interested in knowing the practice of making resolutions itself dates back to ancient Babylon. People made promises to their gods for the New Year, often having to do with simple, easily achievable tasks like vowing to return farm equipment. Nowadays we make promises to ourselves, and the promises typically deal with self-improvement. With the threat of godly repercussion removed and with more complex problems to solve, the odds of success are significantly reduced. Simplicity might work better for us!

One simple promise that is kept is the one our Lord Jesus made to us at our baptism--that we are children of God and He will always be with us. Not only with a New Year, but every day we have a new start. So when you are thinking about resolutions for 2015, remember that we are imperfect, but we are loved by Jesus no matter what.

May 2015 bring joy and blessings to each of you!

In service,

Patricia W. Savage

A Christmas Message from ALSM's President & CEO

Once again we are hurrying around to prepare for Christmas-- shopping for just the right gift for persons on our list, transforming the house with decorations that glisten, wrapping packages that are shiny and beautiful, and beginning to make grocery lists for those family gatherings. In the midst of all of those preparations, we pause to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas….the birth of Jesus.

 Recently a friend of mine shared with me the history of the Chrismon. I thought you might also be interested in the story. As most of you know, Chrismons are Christmas decorations with Christian symbols on them. They help us remember that Christmas is the celebration of Jesus’ birthday. They are often used on Christmas trees in churches and in Christian homes. 

I was unaware (and perhaps you were as well) that the Chrismons were first made by Frances Kipps Spencer at the Ascension Lutheran Church in Danville, VA. It was the Reverend George Pass who in 1940 influenced a certain Mrs. Spencer, an avid craftsperson, to share discarded materials with his poor congregation so he, Pastor George, could make decorations. The pastor’s devotion to this project moved Mrs. Spencer and her husband, Harry, to continue the tradition and make their own ornaments to decorate their tree at home. In 1957, Mrs. Spencer volunteered to be in charge of the decorations for her church, Ascension Lutheran. She decided that, instead of traditional balls and colored lights, handmade ornaments would be more appropriate. But she needed a name for the special ornaments. She began to study the monograms of Christ, and, after discovering the Latin word “chrisma,” she settled on the name “Chrismon.” It is a combination of “Christ” and “monogram” (meaning symbol). The idea quickly spread to other churches, a sort of instant tradition whereby Christian groups make their own Chrismons on which they display their favorite symbols.

 To this day, each year a twenty-foot Christmas tree is decorated in Ascension Lutheran, as Mrs. Spencer intended. Visitors come and hear the story of Jesus explained through her original Chrismons. The tree is an evergreen tree, of course, to symbolize eternal life won by our Savior, Jesus Christ. The white lights speak of him who is the Light of the World. Chrismons are traditionally white and gold. White is the liturgical color and symbolizes that Jesus was pure and perfect. Gold symbolizes his majesty and glory. Chrismons continually remind us of God’s greatest gift to all of us, his son, Jesus Christ.

 As the Advent season unfolds and we prepare for the birth of Christ, let us be reminded how each Chrismon represents the heritage of all Christians.

 May you and your loved ones experience the joy of Christmas and the wondrous birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ.  May you also look forward to a New Year filled with all good works. 

In service,

Patricia W. Savage

A Thanksgiving Message from ALSM's President & CEO

We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing; He chastens and hastens His will to make knownThe wicked oppressing now cease from distressing. Sing praises to His Name; He forgets not His own. 

--- Theodore Baker, 1894

Many of us will recognize this hymn from our Thanksgiving festivities. It is popularly associated with Thanksgiving Day, to my mind the most family-oriented of all holidays, and is often sung at family meals and at religious services on that day.

You may be interested in knowing the hymn is a patriotic hymn of Dutch origin written in 1597 by Adrianus Valerius to celebrate the Dutch victory over Spanish forces in the Battle of Turnhout. The Spanish were thought to be “wicked,” especially since the Spanish king would not allow Dutch Protestants to “gather together.” The hymn was originally set to a Dutch folk tune. In 1894, Theodore Baker wrote the words we know today, preserving much of the original meaning. This hymn was sung at the opening of the funeral mass for Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

According to Michael Hawn, professor of sacred music at the Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, “by World War I, we started to see ourselves in this hymn,” and the popularity increased during World War II, when “the wicked oppressing” came to be Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. 

While this brief background is interesting (and may spark some minor conversation around the dinner table), to us it remains a hymn of praise and thanksgiving for all of which we are grateful….family, friends, those in our care, and other loved ones. We have so much that we often do not realize how blessed we really are because of the opportunity to “gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing.”

May you and your respective families and friends “gather together” to enjoy a very blessed and fulfilling Thanksgiving Day filled with delicious food and lots of love from those around you.

In His Service,
Pat Savage

Allegheny Lutheran Social Ministries Honored with Technology Award by Blair County Chamber of Commerce

 Allegheny Lutheran Social Ministries  was honored by the Blair County Chamber of Commerce with the technology award. The award was presented at the Chamber’s annual awards ceremony in October for ALSM’s ongoing goal of improving technology.

 By implementing state-of-the-art technology over the past few years, ALSM has been promoting a paperless organization, improving efficiencies and providing opportunities for team members to better serve those in ALSM’s care. Dakim Brain Fitness and ItsNever2Late computer modules have been integrated into daily programming in the senior living communities and adult day programs. These modules challenge residents and clients with options to help keep them cognitively stimulated while improving their memory and recall. Other recent technological additions include the iPods for Seniors project, which uses music to help calm and reach residents with dementia or memory issues, and a new personal emergency response system that provides peace of mind to independent living residents.

 New technology for team members was implemented over a six-month period. The new system has some members serving as “super users” who assist others in their areas of expertise. This method provided an environment utilizing a “train the trainer” model. The new “TEAM (Total Electronic Access Management) System” allows team members to make changes directly into the human resources information system. Other technological advances for ALSM team members include kiosks for information, continuing education and online training, and Answers on Demand (AOD), which fully integrates electronic medical records into a paperless system.

 “Receiving the award from the Blair Chamber is much appreciated and one more recognition of ALSM’s focus on being a leader in serving the needs of people, not only with care and compassion, but with effectiveness and efficiency,” said Dr. Patricia W. Savage, President & CEO of ALSM. “Our ultimate goal with technology is to provide state-of-the-art communication and education to our residents and team members, and continue to move to an organization that is even more environmentally-conscious. We are humbled at the recognition and committed to continuing to be a good partner in service to our community.”


Farewell Bishop Pile         

            A message from Pat Savage, President/CEO

It is disconcerting to be saying farewell to Gregory Pile in his bishopric capacity. As one who watches over us, he has been a wonderful friend and colleague to me, and I know to many of us. At the same time, we know he leaves us in a good place with strong rostered leadership, a synod council committed to moving into the future, congregations that respond to the challenges of membership, and partner ministries.   

Ever since he became our bishop some 21 years ago, he has been a pillar in our synod. Or perhaps I should say a rock. It was he who helped build the foundations that made this synod one that other synods in the ELCA would look to. I suspect our advantage had something to do with the fact that, with Greg Pile, there was always open and candid communication. He has a particular skill at bringing people back to reality and practicality yet still encouraging positivity. His sense of humor at looking at life’s trials and his compassion for people are unmatched. His ability to embody what Saint Paul called the “ministry of encouragement” stands out as he often identifies gifts in others that we may not yet seen in ourselves.

I know from my work throughout the ELCA and with my partner social ministry organizations, my colleagues would often envy that my bishop was Greg Pile, a forthright, compassionate, highly committed man of God who loves people and believes that we are all called to love and serve our neighbors. He is the champion of partner ministries in our Church.

We know from the third chapter of Ecclesiastes:

  • For everything there is a season, a time for every matter under heaven;
  • a time to be born and a time to die;
  • a time to plant and a time to pluck up what is planted;
  • a time to kill and a time to heal;
  • a time to break down and a time to build up;
  • a time to weep and a time to laugh;
  • a time to mourn and a time to dance;
  • a time to cast away stones and a time to gather stones together;
  • a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing.

This is, I think, a time to embrace. Bishop Pile, I learned much from you, as I am sure others have learned, and for that I will be eternally grateful. You walked beside me personally through some difficult times and you walked with ALSM through some tumultuous times. Thank you.

Your legacy is strong and lasting.

Thank you for your service and may God bless you and your family in the next phase of your life’s journey.

Allegheny Lutheran Social Ministries
Breaks Ground for its Administrative Office

 Allegheny Lutheran Social Ministries broke ground for its new Administrative Office Wednesday afternoon, June 11, 2014. The 12,600 square foot building will be located at 898 Logan Boulevard, adjacent to Martin’s Supermarket. The two-story office complex is slated for completion by early next year.

 Dr. Patricia Savage, President and CEO; Thomas Bradley, Chair of the Board of Trustees; Bishop Gregory Pile of the Allegheny Synod; Christopher Reighard, Senior Vice-President for Finance and Planning; and Stephanie Schmidt, President and CEO of Poole Anderson Construction, as well as additional project partners were on hand for the ceremony.

 Explaining the need for the new building, Dr. Savage pointed out that the organization “needs additional space for program offices, meeting rooms, and training. For example, the ALSM at Home and ALSM at Home Health Care staffs currently occupy a cottage on the Hollidaysburg campus. The current administrative building, which  is over 60 years old, lacks space for training activities and fails to meet general needs in terms of office size, number of offices, or technological amenities needed for an efficient operation.”

 Mr. Reighard added, “ALSM is upgrading the Hollidaysburg campus, building new cottages, and upgrading the Hillcrest Apartments. The demand for the cottages is stronger than we anticipated. We need the land on which the current administrative office is located so that more cottages can be built and more people served. Our new building will serve ALSM well into the future.”


Memorial Day Message from ALSM President/CEO


As you know Monday we celebrate Memorial Day – a time to share with family and those close to us and reflect on and remember family members who are no longer with us. To help you reflect on the meaning of the day, please read this short excerpt from a speech given by the Secretary of the Veterans Administration in 2010, along with a prayer of remembrance for those who gave their lives for our freedoms.

It has been said that, “Poor is the Nation that has no heroes, but beggared is the Nation that has and forgets them.” Those we honor this Memorial Day answered their call to duty, and in doing so, they honored us. We owe them our deep and profound gratitude, and we must pass that sense of obligation on to the next generation.

Tens of thousands of names are inscribed on war memorials and headstones all across this country and in a number of overseas locations. From a distance, those names may seem indistinguishable. Yet, every husband or wife, mother or father, brother or sister, son or daughter, who visits, will always see his or her loved one’s name first. This Memorial Day, we also honor and thank them – those who placed so much on the altar of Freedom and for whom the pain of loss remains undiminished.

Veteran’s Day Prayer by Joanna Fuchs

Dear Lord,
Today we honor our veterans,
worthy men and women
who gave their best
when they were called upon
to serve and protect their country.
We pray that you will bless them, Lord,
for their unselfish service
in the continual struggle
to preserve our freedoms, our safety,
and our country’s heritage, for all of us.
Bless them abundantly
for the hardships they faced,
for the sacrifices they made
for their many different contributions
to America’s victories
over tyranny and oppression.
We respect them, we thank them,
we honor them, we are proud of them,
and we pray that you will watch over
these special people
and bless them with peace and happiness.
In Jesus’ name we pray; Amen.


Patricia W. Savage, Ph.D., N.H.A.
Allegheny Lutheran Social Ministries


Sweet Senior Prom Held at The Lutheran Home at Hollidaysburg

February 27, 2014 – What better way to wrap up the month of love, than a prom? The Lutheran Home at Hollidaysburg hosted an evening prom complete with DJ entertainment, refreshments and even sparkling cider. Family members and guests joined the celebration. Some residents even had "dates" for the evening. 

The prom was wonderful! Some residents shared that they enjoyed attending special evenings such as this with their spouses in the past and did not think they would have the opportunity to enjoy such an evening again. They loved the dancing!

One additional delight to the team members was finding out that they had full-filled a life long dream for one resident who had always wanted to attend a prom. She never had until this evening. The smiles in the photos tell the story of how the residents felt about their prom.

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The Lutheran Home at Hollidaysburg Welcomes New Administrator

January 20, 2014 - Danni Hale Pettit, MAT, NHA, recently joined the Allegheny Lutheran Social Ministries team as the administrator of The Lutheran Home at Hollidaysburg.

A native of Altoona, Pettit most recently served as the assistant administrator at Southwestern Veterans Center, Pittsburgh. She previously served as Director of School and Family Programs for the Senator John Heinz History Center. She has a diverse background that includes experience in art therapy, sales and marketing, museum education and nonprofit organizational management.

Pettit earned a Master’s degree from The George Washington University, Washington, D.C., and a Bachelor of Arts degree from The University of Pittsburgh. She is a licensed Nursing Home Administrator and volunteers her time with a variety of community organizations, including the American Heart Association, Free to Breathe, Dreams Go On, Newry Lutheran Church and various organizations that help animals in need.

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Allegheny Lutheran Social Ministries awarded CARF–CCAC accreditation 

September 10, 2013 - CARF–CCAC announced that Allegheny Lutheran Social Ministries (ALSM) has been awarded a Five-Year Term of Accreditation. This is the first CARF–CCAC accreditation that has been awarded to ALSM and is accredited as an Aging Services Network by the international accrediting body.

“By pursuing and achieving accreditation, ALSM has demonstrated that we meet international standards for quality and are committed to pursuing excellence,” said Dr. Patricia Savage, President/CEO.

An organization receiving a Five-Year Term of Accreditation has voluntarily put itself through a rigorous peer review process and demonstrated to a team of surveyors during an on-site survey that it is committed to conforming to CARF–CCAC’s accreditation conditions and standards. Furthermore, an organization that earns CARF–CCAC accreditation is commended on its quest for quality programs and services.

Allegheny Lutheran Social Ministries (ALSM) is a not-for-profit faith-based organization affiliated with Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Allegheny Synod. Serving our communities for more than 65 years, ALSM employs more than 500 staff and serves an eight-county area in Pennsylvania, including Bedford, Blair, Cambria, Centre, Clearfield, Fulton, Huntingdon and Somerset counties.

ALSM operates retirement living communities, in-home personal care and health care, health care and rehabilitation services, Senior Daily Living Centers, counseling, Growing Years Early Learning Centers, Kid Stop school-age programs, Head Start, Early Head Start and Family Centers of Bedford County.

The Continuing Care Accreditation Commission (CCAC) was founded in 1985 as the nation’s only accrediting body for continuing care retirement communities and similar organizations. In 2003, CCAC merged with CARF, a nonprofit accreditor founded in 1966 that serves a wide range of human service organizations. For more information about the accreditation process, please visit the CARF website at www.carf.org.

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ALSM President/CEO Receives Highest LeadingAge PA Award

July 8, 2013 - Dr. Patricia W. Savage, President/CEO of Allegheny Lutheran Social Ministries (ALSM), was presented with the Paul P. Haas Lifetime Achievement Award at the LeadingAge PA Annual Conference in Hershey, PA.

LeadingAge PA’s highest award, the Paul P. Haas Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to a distinguished individual who has demonstrated exemplary leadership, service and commitment to the association and across the state to positively influence and advance the aging services field.

Under Dr. Savage’s leadership as President/CEO at ALSM for the past 17 years, the organization has developed an intergenerational program for young and older adults; added home care focusing on companion services for the senior population; spearheaded the addition of a certified skilled home health program; and added two HUD Senior Housing developments for elderly in low-income communities.

Dr. Savage earned a BA in Psychology from Alvernia University in Reading, PA; a Masters degree in Social Work from Marywood University School of Social Work in Scranton, PA; a Masters degree in Human Resources Administration from the University of Scranton in Scranton, PA; and a PhD in Organizational Leadership from Union Institute & University in Cincinnati, OH. She previously worked as the Director of the Senior Companion Program for Telespond Senior Services in Scranton, PA, and as the Director of Hospice Saint John before being named the Vice President of Program Operations at Lutheran Welfare Service of Northeastern PA, Inc. (now Diakon Lutheran Social Ministries) in Northeastern PA. She joined the ALSM staff in January 1996 as President/CEO.

She is a member of the Academy of Certified Social Workers (ACSW), Leadership Lackawanna Alumnae Association, National Association of Social Workers (NASW); Foundation of the American College of Healthcare Administrators (ACHCA), past member of the Board of Directors of the Blair County Chamber of Commerce, Advisory Board of Penn State Altoona, and Advancement Committee of Evangelical Lutheran Coalition for Mission is Appalachia (ELCMA). Dr. Savage’s leadership roles in professional organizations have included chairing the Boards of Directors of Lutheran Services in America (LSA) and KAIROS Health Systems, Policy Council of Lutheran Advocacy Ministry in PA (LAMPa) and Leadership Council of Lutheran Services in America-PA. She is the past chair of the Steering Committee of Central PA Lutheran Planning Giving and past President of the Rotary Club of Altoona as well as the immediate past President of the Laurel Highlands Chapter of the American Wine Society. She volunteers her time as an interviewer for the Siamese Rescue Center as well as several committees at Zion Lutheran Church, Hollidaysburg where she is a member.  

LeadingAge PA is a trade association representing Pennsylvania not-for-profit organizations that provide housing, healthcare and community services primarily to the elderly. The association was established to provide education and a voice of advocacy for not-for-profit long-term care providers. The LeadingAge PA Distinguished Service Awards Program, established in 1973, encourages members to nominate individuals and organizations that enhance the field of aging services through their involvement, innovation, leadership, or advocacy, as well as personal and organizational generosity.