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American Baptist Homes and Caring Ministries Awards

Special merit awards recognizing imaginative leadership and exceptional service were presented during the American Baptist Homes and Caring Ministries Association's breakfast, held during the recent American Baptist Biennial Meeting in Washington, D.C.

Garth E. BrokawThe Long Term Care Facility Merit Award was given to the Rev. Garth E. Brokaw, president and CEO of Fairport Baptist Homes, near Rochester, N.Y. Brokaw began his ministry at Fairport Baptist Homes (FBH) in 1980, when he accepted the call as chaplain. In this capacity, he was creative in enhancing the spiritual services provided for residents, developing worship services specifically for those afflicted with dementia. He also developed a program that gave residents the right to choose end-of-life care options. FBH was the first retirement community in the region to address these issues.

In 1990, Brokaw became president/CEO of FBH. Under his leadership, FBH became a model for creative service to residents and the community. In 1997, it initiated the "Hallways to Households: Changing the Culture in Nursing Homes" project, which came to fruition a year later. FBH changed the environment and management of care in its Skilled Nursing facility to better reflect the community and family settings that residents experienced before relocating to the nursing facility. During the project, nearly 200 skilled nursing beds were converted to 20 smaller, independently-functioning "households" with their own kitchens and gathering spaces for residents, as well as permanently-assigned staff.

Under Brokaw's leadership, FBH is also on the cutting edge of community care management, a growing trend in the healthcare field. One full-time nurse and a part-time mental health specialist provide managed care to all elders in the nearby town of Perinton, N.Y.. This team responds to about 1,200 inquiries a year and carries a regular case load of 400. Last year, in serving their clients, they connected with 118 community agencies in the community. FBH also established an adult day care program in a HUD 236 housing complex in Perinton—the only adult day care in the state of New York that is operated in a housing complex rather than a nursing home.

Robert B. InhoffThe Rev. Robert B. Inhoff of Vero Beach, Fla., retired president and chief executive officer (CEO) of American Baptist Homes of the Midwest, was honored with The Retirement Communities Merit Award.

American Baptist Homes of the Midwest (ABHM), with corporate offices located in Eden Prairie, Minn., serves some 3,200 individuals in eight states through programs ranging from continuing care retirement communities and nursing homes to HUD-related affordable housing, as well as group homes for persons with developmental disabilities.

Inhoff joined the ABHM staff in 1998 after serving for six years as president and chief executive officer of Baptist Senior Adult Ministries in Washington, D.C. His prior experience included 17 years—including eight years as president—at the Baptist Homes of Western Pennsylvania in Pittsburgh.

A licensed nursing home administrator, Inhoff has broad experience with services that include continuing care retirement communities, nursing homes, assisted living, and medical adult day care. He is a graduate of Kalamazoo College and Andover Newton Theological School, and earned a master's degree in business administration from the University of Pittsburgh. He has served as president of the Association of American Baptist Homes and Caring Ministries (formerly known as ABHHA) and on the House of Delegates and Finance Committee of the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging.

Jimmie H. SmithThe Children's Homes Merit Award was given to Jimmie H. Smith of Lake Villa, Ill., executive director of Kids Hope United, Northern Region. For more than 30 years, Smith has been a tireless advocate for vulnerable children and families in Illinois, Wisconsin and Missouri.

From 1988 to 1994, Smith worked to revitalize the ministry of Hudelston Baptist Children's Home in Centralia, Ill., which was in danger of closing its doors. He supervised the addition of a second and third home to the Centralia campus, expanded services for children, and led the agency's expansion to St. Louis, Mo.

In the 1980s, Smith and his senior staff led an effort to bring children's services to southern Wisconsin, including day care and foster care. In 1992, he revived residential treatment services for youth in Lake County, Ill., now known as CARE. Today the program serves more than 140 youth.

An American Baptist himself, Smith has been proactive in encouraging American Baptists to serve in many capacities on boards, committees, and task forces and in volunteer activities. He has been a driving force in "mission moments" during Sunday worship services in order to spread the good news about the Kids Hope United ministry to children and families.

Gary WagnerThe Rev. Gary Wagner, president /CEO of Rainbow Acres, Camp Verde, Ariz., received the Specialized Service Organization Merit Award. Rainbow Acres, founded in 1973, is a unique Christian community dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for adults with developmental disabilities. Each individual is assisted in achieving emotional, cognitive, physical, social, spiritual and vocational growth to his or her fullest potential. The primary emphasis at Rainbow Acres is a total-life concept that fosters a sense of self-worth in each rancher through family-style living in a loving and accepting community.

Joining the Rainbow Acres staff in March 1996, Wagner brought more than 25 years of experience in public relations, marketing and fundraising for institutions of higher education. His experience and gifts in these areas led to the most successful fundraising campaign in Rainbow Acres' history.

Wagner initially led a comprehensive review and evaluation of the organization's programs, then enhanced older programs and created new ones to better serve the ranchers. Some of those efforts included appointing a full-time nurse as the coordinator for Health and Welfare, establishing Agape House as a center for senior ranchers, and appointing Rainbow Acres' first job coach to assist ranchers in finding community-based employment. Wagner also organized and led the first Rainbow Acres Mission Team to participate with American Baptist Churches USA in building "The City of Refuge," a community center that serves the poor and disabled in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

Wagner established Rainbow Acres' first endowment fund, with a current value of over $1.3 million. He also led the "Building Homes with Hearts" capital campaign, surpassing a goal of $3.75 million.

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