From Sanctuary to Community: Building on Tradition

For more than 100 years, the simple wooden building on what is now Brandon Avenue in Roanoke was a house of worship. In two rows of pews fronted by a raised pulpit, Lutherans and Moravians bowed their heads in prayer and took part in the Lord’s Supper.

Today, the Old Zion Church building is gone and in its place is Brandon Oaks, an award-winning Lifecare community opened in 1993. Brandon Oaks Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, which lies opposite, opened in 2003, replacing the old Health Center at Brandon Oaks.

In the 1980s, the VLH family expanded into new locations with the addition of Luther Manor (in Virginia Beach) and Luther Crest (in New Market), communities providing rent-subsidized apartment living and supportive services. Virginia Lutheran Homes now serves about 550 residents in our three locations.
1896 -1966
The Beginning
For more than 100 years, the simple wooden building on what is now Brandon Avenue in Roanoke was a house of worship. In two rows of pews fronted by a raised pulpit, Lutherans and Moravians bowed their heads in prayer and took part in the Lord's Supper.

In 1897, the congregation moved and the Old Zion Church was decommissioned. After serving for a time as a storehouse and later falling into ruin, the building and its land were donated to Virginia Lutheran Homes by landowner Colonel Browns family.
1966 - 1973
Building The Foundation
foundation.jpgIn 1966, The Virginia Synod of the Lutheran Church in America granted permission to build a home for the elderly in Roanoke, named Virginia Synod Lutheran Homes.

Almost five years passed before ground was broken for the Health Center, with it opening in 1973. During that time, a location had to be found, architectural plans drawn up and financial support secured from individuals and congregations of the Virginia Synod. 
1980 - 2003
A Growth Period
In the 1980's, the VLH family expanded into new locations with the addition of Luther Manor in Virginia Beach, and Luther Crest  in New Market. Both of these communities provide rent-subsidized aparment living and supportive services.

Brandon Oaks, an award-winning Lifecare community opened in 1993 on the site of the Old Zion Church building. In 2003 Brandon Oaks Nursing and Rehabilitation Center opened across from Brandon Oaks, replacing the former Brandon Oaks Health Center.

Our Chaplaincy Program: Providing Compassionate, Spiritual Care

The Chaplaincy Program at Virginia Lutheran Homes is an essential part of our holistic approach to resident care and comfort. Through the program, we offer the services of two full-time chaplains to residents and their families. Pastors Keith Olivier and Kathleen Miko are ordained pastors of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and serve under a Letter of Call of the Synod Council of the Virginia Synod, ELCA.
vlh-chaplains.jpgAt Brandon Oaks and the Brandon Oaks Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, chaplaincy services include weekly Vesper worship for Independent and Assisted Living residents and daily morning chapel on weekdays. Sunday afternoon worship at the Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and Holy Communion is offered in all levels of care. Also provided are hospital visits, Bible study, prayer gatherings, help with end-of-life issues and grief counseling.

The chaplains work with other employees of Brandon Oaks on interdisciplinary teams to meet the full range of resident needs. They also stay in touch with local clergy to keep them informed on church members who live at Brandon Oaks.

At Luther Manor, the chaplaincy program reaches out to residents on a monthly basis, with an evening worship service and Holy Communion, morning Bible study and personal meetings with the chaplain.

At Luther Crest, the chaplaincy program offers residents a monthly morning Bible study, and afternoon worship service with Holy Communion and one-on-one meetings with a chaplain.

Our dream for the future is a fully endowed Chaplaincy Program to serve the residents of Brandon Oaks, Luther Manor and Luther Crest. If you’d like to help with a gift to the Chaplaincy Endowment Fund, please donate online or contact us.
Virginia Lutheran Homes, Inc., is a social ministry organization of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. As such, we maintain partnerships and close ties to the following groups and organizations:
Virginia Lutheran Homes is a partner in the Virginia Synod’s United Lutheran Appeal. Contact us for more information about the appeal.

We are also affiliated with Lutheran Services of America, the largest social ministry agency in the United States.

Our Management - The People Who Guide VLH

neff_30px_rt.jpgHeather L. Neff, MHA
President & CEO  
Virginia Lutheran Homes, Inc.

Heather has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Juniata College and a Master of Health Policy and Administration from Penn State University. With more than 15 years of experience in the field of senior health care, Ms. Neff is a dynamic, mission-driven leader with a focus on person-centered care and organizational sustainability. Most recently she served as CEO of Waveny Care Network, which operates a portfolio of residence complexes, health clinics and related services in New Canaan, Connecticut.

bird_30px_rt.jpgMichael R. Bird, MBA
Chief Financial Officer

Michael holds a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Central Connecticut State University and a Master of Business Administration from Sacred Heart University. Mr. Bird has more than 30 years of experience as a financial and management professional in the long-term care field. Most recently he served as Chief Financial Officer of Waveny Care Network, a provider of long-term care services including Skilled and Rehabilitative care, Assisted Living, Independent Living and Home Health Care in New Canaan, Connecticut.

Prior to his time at Waveny Care Network Mr. Bird was the Chief Financial Officer for eleven years and Chief Executive Officer for seven years for the Bridgeport Diocesan Health Care Corporation in Bridgeport, Connecticut. He was responsible for the financial and operational management of three long term care facilities owned and operated by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut.

parks_20px_rt.pngMary L. Parks
Executive Director 
Luther Manor

Mary joined Luther Manor in December 2004, bringing more than 17 years of multifamily and conventional housing management experience to her position. Before coming to Luther Manor, Mrs. Parks served as Housing Manager of Riverlands Apartments, a 404-unit conventional housing community in Newport News, Virginia. She served many other tax credit/multifamily housing complexes in the Hampton Roads area.

Mrs. Parks received her Assisted Housing Manager certification from Quadel Consulting. She lives in Chesapeake area with her husband, Terrence, and a
daughter, Danielle.

bruch_20px_rt.jpgNicole Bruch
Corporate Marketing Coordinator

Nicole joined VLH in January 2014. Mrs. Bruch has worked in various capacities in long-term care since graduating from Lynchburg College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Studies. Most recently, she served as the Marketing Coordinator for a large CCRC in Roanoke, Virginia offering independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing care, in and outpatient rehabilitation and home care services.


Julee Goodman
Director of Development

Julee joined Virginia Lutheran Homes in August of 2015. She holds a Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree from Marshall University. Julee brings with her 15 years of experience in the development, fundraising and program management sectors. Most recently, Julee served as the Vice President of Development for Center in the Square in Downtown Roanoke. During her time there, Julee managed all the fundraising campaigns and was a part of the team that raised $30 million in a capital to renovate Center in the Square, planned numerous events and developed educational programming and partnered with numerous other non-profit organizations to further the mission of Center in the Square. Julee looks to use her unique experiences with non-profits and wealth of knowledge to further the mission and goals of Virginia Lutheran Homes. 

Virginia Lutheran Homes, Inc. Board of Trustees

Rev. James Armentrout
George N. Arthur
Dr. R. Allen Blackwood, Jr.
Charles L. Downs, Jr.
Teddy A. Garman
Daniel P. Kahill
Dr. Marie L. Malinchak
Nancy K. Overstreet
Barbara L. Phelps
Rev. K. David Skole
Joseph H. Trost
Bishop Robert F. Humphrey