Services to residents promote inclusivity and understanding

Spiritual needs come in all shapes and sizes. It requires chaplains at Lifespace communities to wear many hats to meet the spiritual care needs of all residents. Chaplain Ron Arflin, of both Abbey Delray and Abbey Delray South, exemplifies the all-encompassing approach.

“I’m the chaplain for everybody,” Arflin said. “That’s how I look at it. We provide everything from Passover meal for our Jewish residents, to Christian services, to spiritual care for those who are agnostic or have no faith position at all.”

Abbey Delray South resident Ellen Perlman said all have benefited from Arflin’s leadership.

“Ron was born into a life that centered around his Southern Baptist upbringing,” she said. “This very thoughtful man discovered that other voices in the room needed to be explored, and he has offered this exploration to us. We’ve all expanded our own lives because of Ron.”

Arflin, a 14-year Lifespace veteran, considers himself a bridge builder. His yearly budget, which doesn’t include his income, is based entirely on resident and team member donations to The Foundation. Support to the Spiritual Care Fund allows Lifespace community chaplains, like Arflin, to provide services ranging from holy observances to counseling in order to meet the spiritual care needs of all residents.

“Both communities have wonderful people from different backgrounds and faith traditions,” he said. “Understanding between faiths creates awareness of people’s similarities and lessens fear. We’ve been able to bridge gaps, bring people together, and increase understanding that I’m there for everyone.”

This perspective is the basis behind the fund name change meant to promote inclusivity among diverse spiritual beliefs at all Lifespace communities. Since the term “chaplaincy” is sometimes viewed as promoting only the Christian faith, Arflin and the leadership team at The Lifespace Foundation saw a need to better position the fund as something for people of all faiths or no faith at all. In 2018, the Chaplaincy Fund was renamed the Spiritual Care Fund to better promote the services offered to residents.

Chaplain Ron Arflin said the change has been welcomed by residents.

“There are numerous residents with spiritual needs who don’t necessarily subscribe to the tenets of one particular religious faith,” he said. “The name change has helped make them more aware of the importance of this fund to their spiritual growth, which is a key component of successful aging.”