Champions of Aging

Champions of Aging

Inspired by Creighton’s Jesuit values, four alumni executives are working to make a difference in the lives of seniors through an international company founded in Omaha

By Emily Rust

In an office in west Omaha, four Creighton alumni are implementing their Jesuit education to better the lives of the world’s aging population.

Jeff Huber, BA’91, JD’94; Erin Schmitz Albers, BA’00; Katie Trautschold Christenson, EdD, BS’01, MS’07; and Lenli Corbett, BS’05, are executives at Home Instead Senior Care, a leading provider of in-home care services for seniors. The Omaha-based company now serves 12 countries, providing 80 million hours of care for seniors worldwide.

“We have been heavily influenced by St. Ignatius’ calling as an organization,” CEO Huber says. “We’re using Home Instead as a platform to ‘set the world on fire.’”

Home Instead, Huber says, has adopted a social purpose strategy that embraces the ethos of making meaningful change in the world.

One such way is through Champions of Aging, a paid service-year opportunity for college students and recent graduates. The program, started in 2018, includes Creighton students who are learning to be advocates for an aging population.

Full-time participants (part-time opportunities are also available) spend 32 hours a week in the community serving the elderly, combined with eight hours of curriculum focusing on gerontology topics and reflection.

“They can be any major. Aging is going to affect all of our lives in one way or another,” says Christenson, director of Champions of Aging.

Creighton’s partnership in the program developed out of a meeting between Huber and Creighton’s president, the Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson, SJ, PhD, where the two agreed that the Jesuit mission aligned with that of Champions of Aging.

“We saw the need for leadership in the aging space. There is an incredible deficit of geriatric professionals,” Huber says. “That’s where we conceived of creating the next generation of leaders to understand aging.”

“For the first time ever, there are five generations in the workplace,” says Albers, the company’s vice president of social purpose. “It’s fascinating looking at how to bridge that gap.”

Students in the program also participate in Home Instead’s Ready to Care missions — simple acts of care and kindness that can include taking a senior shopping or meeting with a senior for lunch. Ideas are sent weekly to volunteers’ cell phones. Anyone can take part at readytocare.com.

“The concept is that it becomes part of who you are, to give, learn and serve,” Albers says.

Albers tells the story of a Creighton student who, while heading to a Creighton basketball game, noticed a Jesuit waiting outside for a bus, and offered to give him a ride to the game. Ready to Care is about noticing those opportunities to connect with others.

“It’s really nice to see that those missions are creating some sort of mind shift,” Christenson says.

All four Home Instead executives say they were influenced by their education at Creighton.

“I feel driven by having a sense of purpose in my life,” says Corbett, executive director of the Home Instead Senior Care Foundation. “I found out how to verbalize that at Creighton. I felt that I had discovered a system I had been looking for.”

For Home Instead, the driving factor is making a difference in the lives of seniors.

“We aligned our entire corporate strategy around this,” Huber says. “It’s the right thing to do, what we ought to be doing.

“We talk about magis, cura personalis. We try to live that out as an employer, as a change agent, as a responsible corporate citizen, by helping communities.”