Wendy Jones, Founder and CEO of Next Steps 4 Seniors, LLC is the design and creative force behind the company’s programs and services. These programs and services were created and implemented due to Wendy’s laser focus on supporting vulnerable seniors. Her mission is to elevate the lives of these aging seniors who have been too little valued and cared for in our society. As a result of keeping their needs at the forefront, she has continued to improve programs and services to address barriers and fill in gaps. Wendy is tenacious in her work! She views setbacks as temporary until she can work with others to develop creative solutions. Every life experience, job, and community connection has led Wendy to champion this mission.
Wendy believes: “Success is using all the opportunities I’ve been given to garner lessons and to put that knowledge to good use.
I try not to make the same mistake twice! And my overall advice to everyone is to know who you are, live your values, and be steadfast in advocating for those who have less of a voice. I draw my inspiration from God.
I’m grateful for the gifts and talents He has given me, and I believe every one of us has varying gifts deposited in us. As we press into God’s purpose, He reveals those plans to us. Advocating for seniors brings both my purpose, passion, and gifts into alignment. I am incredibly thankful to God for bringing the right people to my team at the right time. My accomplishments are unequivocally the result of the leading and guiding of God and the Holy Spirit.”
Motivating Next-Gen Leaders
For Wendy, it is important to surround herself with leaders who work as a team to lift each other up. “Empowering the people I work with makes our team stronger and more effective. Together we accomplish more and are prepared to tackle the next goal.” To foster this teamwork, even with her own full workload, Wendy makes it a priority to be involved in the lives of her employees. She cares about them as whole people, recognizing their roles as mothers, daughters, professionals, citizens, and friends. As a result, she has created flexibility in how work is accomplished. Wendy also shares a wealth of resources for her employees to invest in their own personal and professional development. She is “hands-on” in supporting her employees to gain the knowledge and skills they need to succeed.
Wendy works hard to create a deep sense of belonging, she views the time and talent that people share as unique to them and integral in moving forward the mission of Next Steps 4 Seniors, LLC and Next Steps 4 Seniors Foundation. Recognizing the individual strengths of each team member continues to strengthen the team collectively. Unlike other top-down organizations, Wendy wants her employees and volunteers to be critical thinkers who lean into solving problems. She also encourages them to be engaged in the community, to share the company’s and foundation’s mission, and to make connections. It is important to Wendy whether they are employees or volunteers that they see themselves as shaping the future of the community.
Becoming A Leader
Transformational leadership creates a vision others can see and want to be a part of. Wendy’s approach has always been to share the story of “why” the mission to support vulnerable seniors is so important and to create numerous pathways for people to be involved in fulfilling this mission. Next Steps 4 Seniors Foundation provides financial assistance to low-income seniors with emergent needs, many of whom barely survive on social security as their only income source. “When we receive a call to help a senior, Next Steps 4 Seniors Foundation steps into action immediately. We have the resources and ability to respond quickly,” she explains. “We provide emergent need funds to cover a month’s respite care at home or in a community, pay for meals, clothing, transportation or whatever that senior needs to be secure and safe. Our foundation team works together to connect these seniors with additional resources needed to continue to live in a safe environment long term. We also provide emotional and spiritual support through our volunteer care companion program.”
The Next Steps 4 Seniors team has a thorough intake process, every call that comes into the office is assigned to a personal placement specialist. The placement specialist walks alongside the family to truly understand the needs, wants, and wishes of the senior & their family. The placement specialist establishes a personal relationship with the family, which allows an opportunity to easily identify and communicate three potential options for the family to take moving forward. Next Steps 4 Seniors has personally toured every senior community before ever moving a client into it.
Next Steps 4 Seniors has a list of resources we share with families depending on the individual health of each senior. If a senior struggles with activities of daily living i.e., dressing, bathing, eating, toileting, and mobility, this is when a call to our company could help you navigate those next steps for your loved one.
In addition to this, the “Next Steps 4 Seniors,” radio program currently airs weekly on WDTK Salem Media. The program is designed to share important next steps with families as they support their aging loved ones. Wendy states that, “Our future goal is to bring more community awareness and to share love, compassion, and respect to our elders.
Towards the Future
Wendy wants to provide the means for all seniors to have their needs met. She also wants to change how they are viewed by society. “Our seniors were the people who paved pathways for our futures. I struggle with how often they are treated as second-class citizens. My desire is that due to the work of Next Steps 4 Seniors, LLC and the Next Steps 4 Seniors Foundation, our seniors will be more valued and loved,” elucidates Wendy. “We need to get back to the old adage: ‘Honor your father and mother, and your days will be long upon the earth.’ (Exodus 20:12) For all the years our seniors have cared for us, it is an honor to be able to care for them and provide them with the opportunity to age gracefully and respectfully.” Next Steps 4 Seniors Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit and relies on the generosity of individuals, corporate sponsors, and grant makers to fund its mission. The foundation carries out its mission without any government funding. As the need in the community increases, the foundation’s plan is to be prepared to meet that need, and it cannot accomplish this mission without the help of its donors. “We are looking to increase awareness in the community and grow the number of donors and sponsors.”
Wendy and her team have also started The Next Steps 4 Seniors Foundation Care Companion program which has three components, individual phone calls to a senior, a team of volunteers that visit senior communities, and our community outreach program. “The primary design is to check in with the seniors regularly. Wrap our arms around them and show them we care! Our volunteers are loving, compassionate people that have a heart to help others.” The plan for the future with the Care Companion program is to encourage students, the younger generation, to engage in the discussions with the seniors. “We would like to work closely with our school systems, childcare centers, and adoption agencies to teach, train, and involve our students in learning the value a senior brings to their life,” she explains. “Many times, seniors would love the opportunity to go into a school history class and share their experiences with the younger generation. These are all opportunities to glean from the wisdom of our seniors (forefathers), and I believe we have so much to learn from them.”
Wendy acknowledges that the last few years have been difficult for everyone, but the seniors have suffered exponentially. Left in isolation in various settings with no personal touch or quality time with family or friends. “Change starts with us, we need to rally around our seniors like never before, we need to take the time to sit and listen, hold a hand, or give a hug. These amazing seniors carried us through difficult times in our day. We have a lot to learn from them. Let’s help them engage. Let’s honor them and show respect. Let’s walk alongside them and embrace them where they are now. Our seniors need a voice. We need to encourage legislation to keep up with the growing needs of our seniors. Medicaid and Medicare were designed as a short-term fix for a long-term problem. We need increased funding to support our seniors properly. My future plans involve securing corporate speaking engagements, promoting legislative changes, and to continue with syndicated radio programming─anything necessary to bring awareness to this undeniable need. Our baby boomers are aging. We need change, and we need it now to be prepared to care for our aging population with grace and dignity.” To learn more about our vision, visit our company website www.nextsteps4seniors.com and to support our mission visit our foundation website www.nextsteps4seniorsfoundation.org. Together we can begin altering lives for the future.