Our Spirit

Ready, Set ... Be Kind! Random Acts of Kindness is Under Way.

Random Acts of Kindness at WesleyLife begins Friday, April 28, and runs through the organization's 70th anniversary, July 7 -- which marks the beginning of WesleyLife week! Kristy VanDerWiel, Vice President of People & Culture for WesleyLife, takes a moment to remind us what RAK '17 means to the organization, and why we're counting on your participation. Ready, set ... be kind!

Thrift-Store Find Foreshadows "Good Things to Come"

AJ and her Wesley sweatshirt

Andrea "AJ" Peterson and her husband, Mark, were shopping in a thrift store in Minneapolis four years ago in preparation for an ugly-sweater party when Mark stumbled upon a unique find -- a Christmas sweatshirt with "Wesley" on the front in gold lettering.

"I wasn't working at WesleyLife at that time -- in fact, the name 'Wesley' was not on my radar for any reason," AJ, now the director of people and culture for WesleyLife, said. "But for some reason, Mark was drawn to it and we bought it. Initially, he was the one to wear it."

When the couple moved to Des Moines, the shirt was packed away. By the time she saw it again, AJ had accepted her position with WesleyLife and was struck by the obvious coincidence.

"I couldn't wait to wear it to our holiday party this year," AJ said. "Even though I had no clue four years ago, I'm sure someone else had an idea of the good things to come and that my life would be blessed in this way, and that I'd one day be wearing the shirt with my own Wesley family!"

"Christmas Elf" Gives Back, Finds Comfort Susan

Susan Waldman’s father passed away recently. She misses him terribly – but setting up shop in his former home keeps him close.

Plus, as she says, there’s no better way to ease her grief than to focus on giving back, especially at Christmastime.

Susan is Park Centre’s own Christmas elf, wrapping packages – free of charge – for the Newton, Iowa, community’s residents and team members from December 1 through just before Christmas. She began volunteering years ago, shortly after her parents, Bob and Mary Kilfoil, moved into independent living at Park Centre.

“I used to have a business wrapping gifts, and when the economy went south and I shut that down, I had all these supplies left,” she said. “I thought, why not come here and put them to good use? That way, I could also stop by Mom and Dad’s apartment to share a laugh or a hug every day, all through December!”

Susan’s mom passed away in 2013; her dad died just two weeks ago. Residents and team members wondered if, given that her grief is so fresh, she’d be back.

They needn’t have worried.

“There’s nowhere else I’d rather be,” Susan said one December morning with tears in her eyes as she attached a sparkly silver ribbon to an elegant black-and-white foil package. “I walk by my dad’s apartment every day and I want so badly to be able to talk with him. But I get so much from the people here – their kind words, their hugs. They’ve all lost loved ones. They know what it’s like.”

Margot Voshell, Park Centre’s director of marketing, called Susan “our very own angel.”

“She’s a part of the family here, even more so now that her parents are gone,” Margot said. “She gives so much of herself and takes nothing in return. And she performs such an important service; every year, the team and the residents are so glad to see her smiling face.”

Susan, who estimates her gift-wrapping tally at 300 to 500 boxes each year, said if she could have one wish this Christmas, it would be for everyone to know how special Park Centre is in the lives of so many individuals and families.

“It’s easier for me to cope this year, being in this wonderful place, and it's the least I can do to give back to the people who made my parents' lives happy here,” she said. “I still feel them with me as I walk these halls, and that’s a blessing.”


A Message of Thanksgiving from the CEO


Without question, my favorite holiday is Thanksgiving.  It’s the one holiday that is focused on family, friends, and my favorite pastime … FOOD!  As my family and friends know, I love to cook, and Thanksgiving is my opportunity to prepare items I normally wouldn’t.

I think my appreciation for great food began was when I was young and would spend time at my grandparents’ farm in Coon Rapids.  In Iowa, we are blessed with the changing of the seasons and the recognition of the blessings that come with a fall harvest, and my grandparents always expressed that to me in food and conversation. I was always amazed at how they could take food that I wouldn’t normally dream of eating and make it wonderful. Thinking of the smells, tastes, and experiences right now just makes me feel good.  It always seemed as though my grandparents put so much love into the meals they provided.

My grandparents passed away many years ago, but they are the reason I chose this calling to serve older adults, as they represented to me why we should honor and serve our elders. Strong work ethic, appreciation of simple things, love for family, and a desire to help others are values they instilled in me.

As I think about our work at WesleyLife this time of year, it’s with great gratitude and thanksgiving that we have the honor to serve you -- the many residents who have chosen to live in one of our campus settings, and the even greater number whom we help stay healthy and independent in their own homes. It’s my hope that each of you gets the opportunity to spend time with family and friends around the dinner table, and also that you know how much we appreciate that you chose us to walk through this phase of life alongside you and your families. For that, we are blessed indeed.

As my grandparents did, please know of the positive impact you all are having on your family and friends.  This morning one of our caregivers, Nancy Hill, who has worked for Wesley for many years, left me a nice Thanksgiving prayer that I think is so appropriate. I’d like to share that now with all of you.

A Thanksgiving Prayer

Oh God, when I have food,

Help me to remember the hungry;

When I have work, help me

To remember the jobless;

When I have a warm home,

Help me to remember the homeless,

When I am without pain,

Help me to remember those who suffer;

And remembering, help me

To destroy my complacency

And bestir my compassion.

Make me concerned enough

To help, by word and deed,

Those who cry out

For what we take for granted.


Thank you once again on behalf of all of WesleyLife for the privilege and honor to serve you. 

Have a blessed Thanksgiving!


Honoring Our Heritage, Celebrating Our Spirit

WesleyLife WeekThere's no better time than as we're celebrating WesleyLife Week to look back with pride at our foundations and heritage. 

In 1946, the South Iowa Methodist Church Conference created a vision of providing a retirement home for aging ministers. Using the gift of the Chamberlain Estate in Des Moines, the Conference established Wesley Acres, Inc., as a faith-inspired, nonprofit ministry to serve older adults.

Located in the heart of the city of Des Moines, the Chamberlain Estate was built on a beautiful wooded acreage with the Chamberlain mansion -- designed by noted architect William George Rantoul -- as its centerpiece. Wesley Acres' first residents inhabited the Chamberlain house and donated their time and talents to support the operation of the household.

From Wesley Acres' first five residents, WesleyLife has grown to serve more than 10,000 older adults in seven Communities for Healthy Living throughout Iowa, and also through an array of home-based services, Meals on Wheels, Wesley Wheels, adult day centers and hospice services.

It's safe to say our founders couldn't have envisioned the breadth of services provided by today's WesleyLife -- but we think they'd be proud that the values and vision on which the organization was built remain at the forefront of all we do. 

Welcome to the sense of spirit that defines the WesleyLife of yesterday, today and tomorrow. We hope the stories below will help you not only get to know us, but join us on our journey to serve. 

Welcome to WesleyLife Week! A message from the CEO

I'm excited that WesleyLife Week is upon us! It's so meaningful to us as an organization to recognize WesleyLife’s “birthday” on July 7 and take a moment to acknowledge the stories shared by team members and the individuals we serve -- stories that represent WesleyLife’s brand pillars of Excellence, Well-Being, Innovation and Heritage, 

This year’s WesleyLife Week theme is all about being "WellAhead."  As a health and well-being organization, a priority for us is to offer the opportunity for each team member and person we serve to fulfill their potential for health and wellness. .  

As we read in Ephesians 2:10, “We are God’s masterpiece.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”  

How cool is that?  You are a masterpiece with a purpose!  A masterpiece is defined as “a work of outstanding artistry, skill, or workmanship." You are outstanding!  

When we stop to think about the regard God held for us when He created us in His image, it becomes  even more important that our well-being take top priority so we can carry out the responsibility that’s been entrusted  to us.

And when we see each person we serve in that same light – each of them is also a masterpiece! – the importance of our work and the wellbeing of those we serve outshines everything.

We look forward to a week of celebrating and being mindful of who we are as an organization and why we do what we do. 

This year, we will kick off our celebrations on Thursday, July 7, with activities and events scheduled through Friday, July 15.  A central part of the week is a daily devotional authored by a team member or individual we serve. I hope you find meaning in these stories, and that they help enhance your feelings of worth, purpose and meaning,

On behalf of our board of directors, executive circle, and the thousands of older adults WesleyLife serves, THANK YOU and enjoy the week.

Blessings to each of you, and to your well-being!

Rob Kretzinger



Thurs., July 7: Rob Kretzinger, CEO, WesleyLife

Biography — Learn about the Presenter

Link — Watch the Devotional

Transcript — Read the Devotional

Friday, July 8: Glenn OIson, Resident, Edgewater

Biography  — Learn about the Presenter

Link — Watch the Devotional

Transcript — Read the Devotional

Saturday, July 9: Michael Ostermann, Team Member, Wesley Acres 

Biography — Learn about the Presenter

Link — Watch the Devotional

Transcript — Read the Devotional

Sunday, July 10: Rose Ellen (Rosie) Stelton, Resident, Halcyon House

Biography — Learn about the Presenter

Link — Watch the Devotional

Transcript — Read the Devotional

Monday, July 11: Lisa Blommers, Team Member, Park Centre

Biography — Learn about the Presenter

Link — Watch the Devotional

Transcript — Read the Devotional

Tuesday, July 12: John Dingemann, Driver, Meals on Wheels

Biography — Learn about the Presenter

Link — Watch the Devotional

Transcript — Read the Devotional

Wednesday, July 13: Gay Puthoff, Team Member, The Village

Biography — Learn about the Presenter

Link — Watch the Devotional

Transcript — Read the Devotional

Thursday, July 14: Donna Gilchrist, Resident, and Natasha Nikkel, Team Member, Hearthstone

Biography — Learn about the Presenters

Link — Watch the Devotional

Transcript — Read the Devotional

Friday, July 15: Ellis Andrews, Resident, Wesley Acres

Biography — Learn about the Presenter

Link — Watch the Devotional

Transcript — Read the Devotional