A look at the people behind the numbers in area business.
Judy Blaseg, Ecumen
Title: Vice president of philanthropy
Veteran fundraiser Judy Blaseg has professional and personal interests in mind as the new vice president of philanthropy at Ecumen, the nonprofit that is among the country’s largest providers of senior housing and aging services.
Blaseg, who has worked in philanthropy and fundraising for 25 years, said she wanted to work for a nonprofit organization that was dealing with aging on a national scope. Shoreview-based Ecumen, which operates in seven states, offers independent living, assisted living and long-term care as well as at-home and community-based services for seniors.
Blaseg, whose mother worked for 30 years as an activities director in a long-term care community, grew up with an understanding of senior services. Her mother now is in a dementia and Alzheimer’s care facility, similar to those Ecumen operates.
“For me it’s personal,” Blaseg said. “So many of us after we reach a certain age will suffer some form of dementia. I love Ecumen’s approach, which is all about creating the best possible life no matter your diagnosis.”
Blaseg, who is regularly visiting Ecumen sites, visited the organization’s Lakeview Commons on what happened to be its weekly bonfire-and-s’mores night. That inspired Blaseg to donate a bonfire pit to the nursing home in her hometown in South Dakota, so her mother and other residents can enjoy a similar activity.
Blaseg has worked with local and national organizations including Catholic Charities and the Jeremiah Program.
Q: Why should donors consider supporting Ecumen?
A: Donors want to do what’s best for society and for those most at risk and most in need, and that’s what Ecumen is able to do well. We care for those who cannot care for themselves and who cannot afford the care they have to have. We are changing aging. I’m no longer afraid of what senior housing looks like. I think it looks quite interesting.
Q: What appealed to you about joining Ecumen?
A: With 60 million of us turning 65 over the next 10 years, this was a nonprofit that really got my creative juices flowing. The nonprofit world has to focus more on the issue of aging, and I wanted to be part of an organization that was doing that. We operate in seven states, with more on the horizon, and I’ve worked as a national fundraiser for many years
Q: Why should families consider Ecumen services?
A: Ecumen allows each community to develop their unique culture. It’s not a cookie-cutter approach to aging. I went to Ecumen Prairie Lodge [an assisted living and memory care senior housing community in Brooklyn Center] when they had a ceremony to remember people who’ve passed away. I was so moved by the fact that the staff was in tears with family members who have had residents pass away. It really felt like a family.