Topics on Aging

By Juan Gallo

What Will Be Your Legacy?

May 22, 2023

What Will Be Your Legacy?

Recently, Heart2Heart has received a number of memorial gifts on behalf of people who passed. 

One gift was made on behalf of five people who served in a ministry that was quite similar to ours. Don Stepleton, who was the late uncle of our founder, started a group called Heart for Seniors with others from Community Christian Church in 2010. 

After church, once a month, this group of about 26 would visit the residents at Tamarac Rehabilitation & Health Center to preach a message, read scripture and sing hymns with the residents. They stopped only when the pandemic hampered their efforts.

Today, their church, Community Christian Church, is one of our most active partners in ministry to seniors. I love the continuity between Heart for Seniors and the church’s dedication to Heart2Heart. I think it’s a testament to the heritage of that community. 

Last year, I had a chance to visit with Don when he was sick and recovering at Tamarac Rehab — the same place where he had ministered to folks for so many years. 

Don told me the story of Heart for Seniors. He explained how the participants became friends as they ministered together over the years and as they shared lunch after church, before their visit to the center. 

The memories of faithful servants

Don Stepleton died on April 10, 2022. His wife, Mary, sent a memorial gift in his honor and in the honor of four others from Heart for Seniors. 

Here’s a little about each person in Mary’s words.

Robert Priestley loved the Lord and always carried his Bible. He could choose a scripture and then preach without notes, which he often did at Tamarac Rehab. Bob always said it was not him speaking but the Holy Spirit who was leading him in what to say. 

Bob died on August 31, 2021.

Evelyn Rodriguez loved Jesus and had a beautiful voice. She used the voice she was blessed with to lead the singing of hymns and to sing solos at Tamarac Rehab. She also read short stories as part of her ministry. 

Evelyn died on May 23, 2022. 

Gregory Buehrer was always writing beautiful poems and short stories that showed how the Lord works in people’s lives. Heart for Seniors used those poems and stories as part of the worship service at Tamarac Rehab. Gregory also preached and would pass out the sermons he wrote afterwards. 

Gregory died on January 4, 2020. 

Dennis Grinn was part of the original eight members of Heart for Seniors. In the early years, he gave a few sermons. Later, he enjoyed reading the scripture or short stories. 

However, his favorite part of the ministry was talking with the residents. Dennis was the one who was always telling them about Jesus’s love for them. 

One Sunday, Dennis led a man who had turned 100 years old to the Lord. Dennis had been talking with that man about Jesus for over a year before he accepted Jesus as his Savior. 

Dennis died February 27, 2023. 

Along with the gifts in honor of those who served with Heart for Seniors, we received a tribute donation on behalf of a woman named Barbara Bihus

What will people say about you? 

Mary’s letter and these gifts got me thinking: What will we be remembered for?

Thinking through that question matters. We won’t always be here. If someone were to write about us, what would they say?

I didn’t personally know the four people Mary wrote about. But I think their stories are an amazing legacy. 

These days, we’re all so busy. We get out of church, and we’re thinking about lunch in terms of ourselves — and not necessarily how we might serve others afterward. 

Don’t waste time 

Time is probably the most valuable commodity that God has given. It’s a gift for us to use to the best of our ability. 

My mom always used to say, “Every second on this earth that you spend with a frown on your face is a second that you never get back.”

She lived by that mantra. Honestly, I have not been able to find one picture of my mom looking mad or upset. People used to call her Showtime because she was always happy. 

That isn’t to say that she didn’t go through hard times or get mad. I can remember a few childhood moments where I did something, and she was NOT smiling. She did what she had to do. 

But overall, she was just a happy person. 

It’s important to make the most of your time. At funerals, people want to remember good things and have a lot to say about the person who died. 

So make a difference in your community. Create those good memories so we can write about them — just like Mary did.

Read more about:
Juan Gallo
Juan Gallo is the CEO of Heart2Heart Outreach, where he oversees the mobilization of volunteers to provide hope, share love and restore purpose to the lives of the aging population across South Florida.

He also serves as a local pastor and as an adjunct professor at Trinity International University, where he is teaching a course on diversity and aging. Juan has a master’s degree in counseling and psychology and is a licensed mental health counselor intern.

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Juan Gallo

This blog is a frank conversation about what it means to age in our society.

I want us to consider what a wider range of diverse experiences when we talk about aging. I want to reflect on how we, as a community, want our neighbors and our mothers and fathers and our grandparents to live out their latter decades of life. I want us to consider each one of their voices as we strive to meet their needs.

Join me for weekly discussions about what it means to be a senior in South Florida and how we can and should respond to the growing needs of the aging population.

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