The grant brings nearly 11,000 patients and their families access to spiritual care in what is considered an underserved area. Applications for the program are now being accepted.

In many convalescent centers and nursing homes, chaplains come by to visit residents, lead a Bible study or perform communion. While that time is valuable, overall, says Rev. Karen Jones, older adults in those settings have long been an underserved community when it comes to receiving true pastoral care.

“There’s not always a pastor available to come in and go room to room, to sit and work with people individually and develop relationships,” said Jones, a retired educator from Tidewater Virginia who was ordained in 2015. “But now there is a program that allows us to do that, that teaches us to do that.”

Thanks to a three-year, $333,000 grant from the Robert B. Lantz Foundation to the Riverside Center for Excellence in Aging and Lifelong Health (CEALH) in conjunction with the Riverside Regional Medical Center Pastoral Care Department, Jones is a member of the inaugural class of student chaplains providing spiritual care to older adults through a Clinical Pastoral Education Program on the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula.

Riverside received the grant – the largest awarded by the Foundation in its nearly seven-year history – in August and the first extended program class started this past September. Applications for the full-time summer program are being accepted now (details below).

The Robert B. Lantz Foundation was established in 2010 from the legacy of its founder, Rev. Robert B. Lantz. Lantz was a Lutheran minister, pastoral counselor and an Association of Clinical Pastoral Education Supervisor. He received his certificate in Patient Counseling from the Medical College of Virginia in 1964, which he called the richest educational experience of his life, forming the foundation of his professional career. It was his hope to provide educational opportunities and support to clergy and medical professionals on the Northern Neck.

“My husband and I started coming to this area in 1971 and fell in love with it,” said Katherine Lantz, President of the Robert B. Lantz Foundation and also his widow. “When he thought about wanting to do something for the people in this area, this was his vision.”

The Robert B. Lantz Foundation awards grants on an annual basis to support the people of the Northern Neck in areas of pastoral education, counseling training for clergy and healthcare professionals and programs that support mental wellness.

“In a community like this where there are a disparity of available resources for counseling and crisis intervention, clergy are on the front line. They always have been,” said Mark Cooper, Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Robert B. Lantz Foundation. “The need for continuing education for clergy, just like for any board certified physician, is important.”

Published: February 8, 2017