When John Waltner was looking for chaplain jobs in the Redmond area years ago, Emerald Heights caught his eye. He admired the neighborhood and the sense of intimacy that the community offered and he knew that he wanted to serve as chaplain. His previous 17 years as a Pastor gave him the edge and passion to perpetuate a spiritual mission to the residents of Emerald Heights.
After spending much time at the community and engaging with residents, Waltner saw an opportunity to provide a different kind of support for residents and the Redmond community alike.
He took charge of the Alzheimer’s caregiver support group, where he invited those who are or have been affected by the degenerative disease to come and tell their stories and share their challenges. As someone whose father had Alzheimer’s, Waltner knew the toll that it could take on friends and family and saw the need to create a support group to address the issues and educate attendees on the effects of the disease.
A year later, John started the Parkinson’s support group which offered the same support and emphasized physical activity and fitness to help those affected cope to their new way of life. Five years later, both support groups are alive and well, and continue to offer informational support and encouragement.
Recently, John started a support group specifically for male caregivers and has plans also to offer a grief support group for those who are dealing with significant loss. Waltner believes in the closeness of the Emerald Heights community, and has been an integral part in the success of bringing people together for the past nine years. His passion for providing an outlet and support system for friends and family dealing with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s have left a permanent mark on the residents and the Emerald Heights’ legacy.
While John does not live at the community, he and his wife Pam are very fond of the community and the relationships that they have built of the years. He hopes to one day be able to call Emerald Heights home as well.