Rev. Heino Blaauw radiates joy as he walks down the hallway, warmly greeting each person he passes. Chaplain Heino, as he’s known, has been a familiar face around the Saratoga Grove and Providence Healthcare & Rehabilitation Center of Downers Grove campuses for nearly seven years.
“One of the simplest things I try to do is get to know everyone’s name,” he says. “People are surprised when I remember their names. But it ministers to them, it shows them that they are valued.”
The former church pastor who originally hails from Ontario, Canada, considers his most important work to be building personal relationships with each resident and patient. “A lot of pastoral care is just touching base with people, affirming them, getting to know them,” he explains. Each day at breakfast and lunch he makes the rounds among the residents in the dining room, saying hello and finding out what’s on their hearts and minds.
Through these conversations, Chaplain Heino gets to know people who are often dealing with major life changes. Whether it’s a widow who recently moved to the community, leaving behind a house full of memories, or a rehabilitation patient in their mid-50’s who is recovering from a stroke and learning that they can no longer walk without assistance, Chaplain Heino is there to guide them through deep questions of meaning and purpose.
“I’m present first to say, ‘I care about you,’” he says. “People are hungry for meaning in light of life change and loss. My role, through friendship and teaching, is to lead them toward knowing God in Christ Jesus, and knowing that they are loved by Him.”