Cheryl Wallen, Director of Givens LifeMinistries, recently received the LeadingAge North Carolina Excellence in Community Service Award during an annual conference, held this year in Asheville.

The award honors those in direct service, either as employees or volunteers, who demonstrate extraordinary talent, expertise, and dedication in provision of exceptional service to residents.

Through Givens LifeMinistries outreach endeavors, Wallen actively addresses health disparities of underserved, diverse and vulnerable populations by providing access and connections to resources that promote independence and improve quality of life while helping people age successfully in their homes and communities.

Givens LifeMinistries reaches 6,000 people each year in 12 counties through outreach programs that address social determinants of health. Partnerships address food insecurity, social isolation and spiritual wellness that provide free nutritious meals, activities, and wellness education. Families, expectant mothers, and grandparents raising grandchildren who struggle to provide basic necessities for babies and small children are provided with free clothing, diapers; caregivers have access to free medical equipment and supplies.

She also leads the Givens Affordable Communities Housing with Supportive Services Team, which includes three resident service coordinators and a full-time community nurse who collaborate to address the needs of residents at Givens Gerber Park in Asheville and Givens Great Laurels in Waynesville. They build partnerships with area agencies and health professionals to connect residents with supports and services such as supplemental food assistance, financial education, legal needs, end-of-life planning, and health specialists who donate their services to fix glasses, fit hearing aids, provide Medicare/Medicaid counseling, offer legal counsel, and more. Under her direction, the team empowers residents to manage chronic diseases, connect them to community resources, work to prevent or reduce hospitalizations and readmissions, prevent premature admission to skilled care, and enrich the lives of Givens Affordable Communities residents.