From left, Diversity Awareness Partners Mark Jensen, Biji Keigley, Ruth Kverndal, Tom Nielsen (back), Joy Thomson, Lorinda Tang and Joan Selvig pose during the celebration of the third anniversary of their group. Photo courtesy of Covenant Shores

Covenant Shores celebrates third anniversary of Diversity Awareness Partners

  • Friday, December 2, 2016 10:49am
  • News

Covenant Shores retirement community celebrated the third anniversary of Diversity Awareness Partners (DAP), a resident-led group that creates opportunities for residents and staff to increase diversity awareness through education and community participation. Covenant Shores is a faith-based, not-for-profit continuing care retirement community administered by Covenant Retirement Communities.

The seven-member group welcomes authors, scholars, clergy and experts to educate residents about timely and impactful issues related to diversity, including religion, race, immigration and social issues. Field trips and tours provide another layer of opportunity for residents to expand their knowledge and life experiences.

“The group’s goal is to build bridges and create awareness through education and participation,” Covenant Shores Executive Director Bruce Erickson said in a statement. “Our residents understand that by working together their impact is far-reaching. They continue to look for opportunities to make the world a better place and they find ways to include residents from various levels of care.”

In addition to coordinating educational opportunities, DAP has initiated several community outreach programs. Some, like the “Jam Session,” combine the efforts of volunteers living in residential and assisted living. During the Jam Session, volunteers work together to make 100 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to include in lunch bags that are donated to two local homeless shelters.

Residents train with World Relief to serve as cultural companions to help newly arrived refugees acclimate to American culture. They also donate clothing, furniture and other household goods to assist refugees as they settle in to life in the United States. In their own backyard, residents offer additional English tutoring for staff who participate in the English as a Second Language program (ESL) on campus.

“We never stop growing as individuals and we never stop serving as role models for others,” Erickson said. “High school students who work at our community mirror our behavior; they look to residents for guidance and watch how they respond to the events happening in our world.”

More than 100 guests attended the anniversary celebration in the Fellowship Hall. Chaplain Greg Asimakoupoulos moderated a panel discussion, with residents and staff responding to the question, “How Has Race Affected Me?” Residents Sheila Huang and Rev. Bud Palmberg, along with staff members Coral Falcon and Travis McGruder, each shared stories about how race has affected them or someone close to them. McGruder shared how he has experienced racial profiling, but chooses to “rise above it and take the high road.”

A multi-ethnic resident/employee choir performed under the direction of resident Donna Palmberg. CRC Vice President of Community Impact Harold Spooner and Erickson presented remarks, and resident and DAP member Ruth Kverndal thanked guests for their continued support. The celebration concluded with guests singing “What a Mighty God We Serve.”

DAP members include residents Mark Jensen, Biji Keigley, Ruth Kverndal, Tom Nielsen, Joan Selvig, Lorinda Tang and Joy Thomson. Coming up, the group has planned a four-day Martin Luther King Jr. celebration for residents and staff that includes a presentation by Rev. Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil, an associate professor at Seattle Pacific University and author of the book “Roadmap to Reconciliation.”

For more, call 877-385-8613 or visit


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