Allegheny Lutheran Social Ministries (ALSM) has served individuals and families in our community for 70 years. As a faith-based, not-for-profit organization, our 500+ team members touch the lives of roughly 3,000 people each year.
ALSM is the only not-for-profit organization to offer senior living communities and services that span the generations in an eight-county region in Central Pennsylvania.
Learn More About ALSM
ALSM is privileged each year to recognize local individuals and businesses for their contributions of time, talent and treasure to their communities, congregations, Allegheny Synod and ALSM. Submit nominations by printing and filling out one or more of the forms below:
- The Rev. Walden Holl, D.D. Award
- Dr. Luke Rhoads Lutheran of the Year Award
- President’s Award
- Helping Hand Award
- Junior Youth Service Award
- Senior Youth Service Award
The Walden Holl Award will be presented at the Allegheny Synod Assembly in June, and the volunteer awards will presented at ALSM’s Annual Dinner and Awards ceremony in October. Please note that submissions for the awards are due by April 30 to be considered.
ALSM’s 13-member Board of Trustees represents the service area of the Allegheny Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA). Complying with the affiliation standards set for social ministry organizations of the ELCA, the people who serve on our policy-making board are selected for their diversity, experience and expertise.
Current ALSM Board Members
Rev. John Miller, Chair
Suzy Egan Glenn, Vice-Chair
Dr. Tom Coakley, Treasurer,
Helen Brenneman, Secretary
Rev. Michael Rhyne, Bishop
Rev. Ron Miller
Rev. Julia Sprenkle
The leadership team of ALSM includes executives who are committed to serving our organization, as well as the communities in which we serve.
Patricia Savage, President/CEO
Contact Patricia Patricia W. Savage, Ph.D., leads ALSM in making daily decisions to keep team members striving to meet goals as directed by the Board of Trustees. Pat earned a B.A. in Psychology from Alvernia University in Reading, PA; a Masters in Social Work from Marywood University School of Social Work in Scranton, PA; a Masters in Human Resources Administration from the University of Scranton in Scranton, PA; and a Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership from Union Institute & University in Cincinnati, OH. Pat previously worked as the director of Senior Companion Program for Telespond Senior Services in Scranton, PA, before becoming the vice president of Program Operations at Lutheran Welfare Service of Northeastern PA, Inc. in Hazleton, PA. She left that position to join ALSM in January 1996 as president/chief executive officer. Pat’s affiliations include membership in 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), former member of the Board Directors of the Blair County Chamber of Commerce, and Former Advisory Board Member of Penn State-Altoona. Pat’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 former chairperson of the Steering Committee of Central PA Lutheran Planned Giving and former president of the Rotary Club of Altoona. Pat serves as the Chairperson of the Allegheny Mountains Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP). She also served on the Board of Directors of Leading Age PA. In 2013 Pat was recognized for her efforts to advance the field of aging services with the Leading Age PA, Paul Haas Lifetime Achievement Award.
Christopher Reighard, Senior Vice-President for Finance and Planning
Contact Christopher Chris Reighard oversees ALSM’s finances, future projects and children’s services. He holds a Masters in Business Administration and a B.S. in Health Care Policy and Administration with a minor in accounting. A licensed nursing home administrator, Chris previously served 10 years as the assistant controller for Home Nursing Agency and two years as the controller at Altoona Hospital. Chris is an active member of LeadingAge PA (an association of nonprofit senior services) and also supports the community as a member of the Sunrise Rotary Club. His service to the community extends to his roles as the treasurer of the Altoona Area Baseball Association and member of the Logan Township Planning Commission and St. Leonard Home Board.
Rebecca Young, Vice-President for Human Resources
Contact Rebecca Becky Young oversees the human resource functions and compliance program of ALSM. She holds a B.S. in Hospital Administration from Penn State University and a Masters in Human Resources Management from St. Francis University. She has previously served in human resource leadership roles for Presbyterian Homes in the Presbytery of Huntingdon (Presbyterian Senior Living), Einstein Health Care Network in Philadelphia and HealthSouth in Mechanicsburg. She has served as an adjunct professor at the University of Pittsburgh and St. Francis University. Professionally, Becky is certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SHRM-SCP), belongs to the Society for Human Resource Management, serves on the Board of the ARC of Blair County and a council member for the Personnel Committee of the Huntingdon Presbytery. Becky participates in and supports many community fundraising events and efforts.
Nichole Walker, Administrator – The Oaks at Pleasant Gap
Contact Nichole Nichole Walker oversees the day-to-day operations at The Oaks at Pleasant Gap. She previously served as activities coordinator at The Oaks before pursuing additional experience in the area of administration. Nichole served as the administrator of the Clearfield Colonial Courtyard and the former Alterra Clare Bridge, now Wellsprings Memory Care of Juniper Village, in State College, PA. She graduated from Penn State University with a B.S. in Human Development and Family Studies, focusing on Adult Development and minoring in Gerontology. Nichole also has extensive training in dementia care. She is a member of the Bellefonte Sunrise Rotary Club.
Brenda Blough, Administrator – The Lutheran Home at Johnstown
Contact Brenda Brenda serves as the administrator for The Lutheran Home at Johnstown and has worked in long-term care for the past 24 years. She began her career in Richmond, VA working as a therapeutic recreation specialist in hospital adult and geriatric psychiatric programs. She transitioned into long-term care as a director of therapeutic recreation for brain injury, dementia and rehabilitation services facilities. Her career evolved into administrative roles in admissions, marketing and sales for assisted living facilities, nursing homes and large continuing care retirement communities. In Pennsylvania, she has been employed by the Baptist Homes Society in several roles, the most recent being the Director of Community Operations. She served as an Executive Director for Continuing Care Retirement Communities with Diakon Lutheran Social Ministries, Guardian Eldercare and Presbyterian Senior Living. Brenda earned a B.S. in Therapeutic Recreation with an emphasis in Gerontology from Slippery Rock University, along with a Masters in Healthcare Administration from the University of Phoenix. She is a licensed nursing home administrator, personal care home administrator and certified aging services professional. Brenda contributes to organizations such as Goodwill, Alzheimer’s Association, Rotary Club, food banks, charitable golf outings and church activities.
Rachel Wachter, Administrator – The Lutheran Home at Hollidaysburg
Contact Rachel Rachel Wachter, serves as the administrator for The Lutheran Home at Hollidaysburg and has worked in aging services for the past 11 years. Rachel earned a B.S in in Human Development and Family Studies/ Gerontology from Penn State University. She transitioned into Hospice Services with Asera Care Hospice, Johnstown followed by working Guardianship and Protective Services for Older Adults in Blair County. Rachel joined ALSM in 2016 serving as the Social Services Professional and Admissions. In 2017 she became a Certified Dementia Practitioner and 2018 a licensed Nursing home Administrator after completing the Administrator in Training curriculum under the mentorship of Dr. Patricia Savage, CEO, NHA . Rachel is a Cycling Merit Badge Counselor for the Boy Scouts of America, Professional Harpist and contributes and volunteers to organizations such as the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition, American Diabetes Association, and the Alzheimer’s Association.
The Rev. Ralph Hamer, Director of Pastoral Care and Congregational Relations
Contact Pastor Hamer The Rev. Ralph W. Hamer provides oversight and coordination of pastoral care. He also works to build and enhance relationships with our partner congregations. Pastor Ralph holds a B.S. in Sociology from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown and a MDiv. from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg. He has been certified in thanatology (the study of death and dying) by the Association for Death Education and Counseling. He previously served as pastor of St. James Evangelical Lutheran Church in Altoona, PA and as a spiritual care coordinator and regional mentor with Aseracare Hospice in Altoona, PA. He currently serves as a casual chaplain for UPMC Altoona, a per diem chaplain with Aseracare Hospice and a supply pastor in Lutheran and Episcopal congregations. Within the community, Pastor Ralph is active with scouting. He serves as the Unit Religious Emblem coordinator for Troop 117, a merit badge counselor with Laurel Highlands Council and has assisted Girl Scout Troop 43010 with various projects. Within the Allegheny Synod he is a member of the Discipline Committee and serves as a Discerning Your Discipleship instructor. He served for five years as volunteer protestant chaplain at the Cresson Secure Treatment Unit. Previously, Pastor Ralph served as president of the board of directors of Family Services of Blair County, president of the Altoona Area Lutheran Co-mission, Lutheran judicatory representative to the Altoona Ecumenical Conference, coach for Odyssey of the Mind and a member of various committees in the Allegheny Synod.
Andrea Schurr, Director of Mission Advancement
Contact Andrea A lifelong resident of Central Pennsylvania, Andrea Schurr oversees ALSM’s fundraising, marketing and public relations. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Penn State University’s Smeal College of Business in Marketing. Prior to joining ALSM in 2011 as the marketing and public relations manager, Andrea spent nine years as director of marketing for a continuing care retirement community in Blair County. Andrea is the chair of the Blair County Chamber of Commerce’s Committee of Non-Profit Businesses. She is also involved in community events such as the Blair Goes Red for Women to benefit the American Heart Association and volunteers at her sons’ school as a home room parent. Andrea, her husband, and three children live in Hollidaysburg.
It all started with a dream. The Rev. Dr. Luke Rhoads, while serving at First Lutheran Church in Altoona, saw and answered the need for a home for the older members of his congregation. It was through this dream and leadership that The Allegheny Lutheran Home was incorporated. Dr. Rhoads served as its first president. Funded entirely by donations from individuals and churches in the Allegheny Lutheran Conference, The Allegheny Lutheran Home at Hollidaysburg welcomed its first residents in 1950. Expansion came quickly when, just a year later, construction began on independent living cottages on the Hollidaysburg campus. With the success of the Hollidaysburg community, The Allegheny Lutheran Home at Johnstown was built in Cambria County, and opened its doors to residents in 1960. Since then, independent living cottages have been added to this campus. For children, the first Growing Years Early Learning Center opened in Bedford in 1978. Centers were later opened in Altoona, Claysburg, DuBois and Johnstown. In addition, Head Start programs for low-income families and children with disabilities in Bedford and Fulton Counties were provided as part of our service to the community. Other community services now include:
- Pre-K Counts programs located in Bedford, Johnstown and Saxton
- Kid Stop, which provides summer, before-and after-school care and activities for school-aged children in Bedford, Everett and Johnstown
- Family Centers of Bedford/Fulton Counties, which in 1992 introduced resources and education services to families who are expecting a child or have a child who is not yet in kindergarten
The Hillcrest Apartments were built on the Hollidaysburg Hickory Commons campus in 1984 to provide additional options for seniors seeking independent living. In 1991, as programs and services continued to expand, The Allegheny Lutheran Homes and Lutheran Social Services – Allegheny Region merged to form Allegheny Lutheran Social Ministries (ALSM). As the Rev. Dr. Daun McKee, president and chief executive officer at the time explained, each word in the new title was chosen with care:
- Allegheny denotes the specific geographic area in which we have social ministry responsibility in the church.
- Lutheran identifies us as a recognized ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (Allegheny Synod).
- Social signifies that our proclamation is through services of healing and performing acts of love for others.
- Ministries because serving and helping others is a Christian way of life, and these acts of ministering to others are at the very heart of the Gospel.
More programs were added to allow seniors to continue to maintain their independence. ALSM at Home (formerly Community Support Services) began to offer in-home care to Blair County seniors in 1992. ALSM at Home services were soon introduced in Cambria and Somerset counties. The Lutheran Home at Johnstown underwent its first major renovation in 1993, adding 61 skilled nursing beds in the health care center and converting the existing building into personal care rooms for residents. Another renovation took place in 2017. This renovation added independent living residences and new personal care living accommodations. ALSM initiated the first program of its kind in Pennsylvania — only in Blair County — when the Senior Daily Living Center in Altoona became an inter-generational care program in 1993. By sharing activities and interacting throughout the day, the program provides opportunities for seniors and children to bond, grow and learn from each other. Today centers are located in Altoona and Somerset. The Oaks at Pleasant Gap, a continuing care retirement community, opened in Centre County as a 40-bed personal care home and cottage duplex in 1995. Additional independent living cottage homes have been built on the campus, along with apartments for seniors. The Lutheran Home at Hollidaysburg was rebuilt adjacent to the original building in 2004 as a state-of-the-art skilled nursing facility. The new health care center provides 89 beds for residents with both short-term rehabilitation and long-term nursing needs. The campus also offers independent living apartments and cottages. Realizing the need for rental assistance for seniors with fixed incomes, ALSM constructed Lutheran Commons at Berlin Pike in Somerset County in 2010. The project was financed through a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Lutheran Commons at Pleasant Gap, a rental assistance complex in Centre County, was also constructed through a HUD grant. As ALSM looks to the future, we will continue to seek opportunities to serve our communities and touch even more lives through a ministry of love, compassion and mercy in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
To serve people through a ministry of love, compassion and mercy in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
To be identified in our marketplace as a partner in our communities and a leader in providing a continuum of quality health and human services.
- Christian Calling: We are called by God’s command to serve others
- Caring: We care, with love and compassion, for the total well-being of the people entrusted to us.
- Quality: We provide quality services with a competent staff who are courteous and professional.
- Integrity: We hold as a sacred trust each life we touch, honoring our promises, acting ethically in our practices and being good stewards of our resources.
- Dedication: We are committed to our Christian principles and dedicated to those in our care.
- Improvement: We continuously strive to serve others better.