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Honored, loved, respected: Inclusion is fundamental to WesleyLife accent

June 12, 2023 | By

Glen Lewis PhotoFor Glen Lewis and his team, diversity isn’t something to be celebrated only during a particular month.

"WesleyLife is a health and well-being organization, and as such, we're concerned with far more than physical health,” Glen, left, Executive Director of Edgewater in West Des Moines, said. “So it's imperative that we help people understand every day they are in a place where they will be welcomed, respected, honored, and loved for who they are."

When Glen joined WesleyLife four years ago, he took to heart the organization's commitment to holistic well-being, focusing on the importance of mental health and of on creating safe and welcoming spaces at work. As Edgewater’s team includes people of many ethnicities, backgrounds, and orientations, Glen and the rest of the Edgewater leadership team revel in opportunities to celebrate holidays that recognize all groups. Those include National Caribbean-American Heritage Month, Black Women's History Month, Hispanic Heritage Month, PRIDE -- and most days in between.

Eileen Stephens cropped This month’s observances include the opportunity, for those who want to do so (like Edgewater team member Eileen Stephens, left), to wear rainbow lapel pins to demonstrate solidarity with LGBTQ+  residents and team members. 

“The way we honor individuals during PRIDE month is an example of how important it is to demonstrate, 'We recognize you and we are with you,'" Glen says. "We’re planning to provide an educational seminar on some aspect of the LGBTQ+ experience -- it might be about awareness of rights and what it means to identify as LGBTQ+ in 2023 in this country. Maybe we’ll do something on laws affecting LGBTQ+ Iowans. Whatever we narrow it down to, as with all things, we will focus on awareness, empathy, and respect."

Kristy VanDerWiel, Chief Culture Officer for WesleyLife, says Edgewater’s efforts – and the efforts of our other communities and locations – around diversity and inclusion are representative of the fact that WesleyLife is committed to “doing all we can for all the people we can.”

“We believe bringing together people with a wide variety of strengths, backgrounds, and experiences makes us stronger,” Kristy said. “Learning from one another helps us better adapt, understand, and serve all those who place their trust in us, and it’s imperative not only that we welcome individuals with varied backgrounds — as team members as well as residents and clients — but that we provide them with positive and enriching environments in which they can thrive.”

Diversity and inclusion-related programming is scheduled at many WesleyLife locations this month. Watch our social media for more!

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