Westmont Magazine An Elderly Outreach
As a Westmont student, Leona Anderson Bergstrom ’73 “adopted” Elizabeth Ingalls, an elderly woman living out her last days in Santa Barbara. Although her visits to Elizabeth ended after she graduated, Leona began a career of helping the aged. Today she directs SeniorHealth, the department of senior services at St. Joseph Hospital in Bellingham, Wash. In nine years, she has built a comprehensive program and hopes to realize her vision of creating a Senior Health Center serving the elderly in her community.
Leona worked at a nursing home, in both low-income and affluent retirement communities, and in a mental health agency before joining the staff at St. Joseph. Several years ago she began building a bridge between the hospital, the community, and Western Washington University to develop a gerontology certificate program that recently graduated its first class. This year she chairs the WWU program.
She also founded the non-profit group Elder Service Providers, a consortium of organizations and businesses serving the elderly. This agency, which she oversees, hosts an annual care-givers conference that draws more than 300 people.
A past state delegate to the White House Conference on Aging, Leona writes a monthly column in the Bellingham Herald on issues facing the elderly. She belongs to the American Society on Aging (ASA) and the National Council on Aging (NCOA).
Instead of pursuing an advance degree in her field, Leona has supported the education and career of her husband, Richard ’72, who earned a doctorate in ministry and serves as president of ChurchHealth, a non-profit ministry devoted to pastoral renewal and church revitalization. She helped create an arm of this ministry, SeniorLIFE, that advises churches in their outreach to older adults.
The lack of graduate education hasn’t detoured Leona’s career. Her Westmont B.A. and college leadership training have proved sufficient for her success.
When Leona returned to campus for Homecoming in September to celebrate her 25th reunion, she visited her daughter, Lynnea ’02, as well, who just enrolled at Westmont this fall. The Bergstrom’s son, Jon, is a junior at Seattle Pacific University.