The Fernandez Family’s Journey of Caring at Concordia

The Fernandez Family from Concordia at Ridgewood Place

Family is the root of Concordia’s culture. Our team members, persons served and community friends are united by the ties of our mission of caring – each a branch on our 143-year-old family tree with new shoots budding every day. Throughout our organization’s history, there have been numerous instances of spouses, siblings, parents and relatives working alongside one another. One particular family began their journey of caring in 2002 at Concordia at Ridgewood Place.  

Sowing Seeds

At age 12, Andrew and Tammy Fernandez’s youngest daughter Kirsten wanted to do more for her community. Andrew’s mom Magdalene brought her to Concordia at Ridgewood Place, a personal care community located in Plum, Pa., to see what volunteer opportunities were available. Kirsten would spend the next seven years generously donating her extra time to support our residents’ activities and lifestyle. Beginning at age 19 and for the next several years, she would work as a nurse aide while attending college before pursuing a career in education.

The Fernandez Family

During this time, Tammy and her oldest daughter, Alyssa, began their healthcare careers as nurse aides/med techs at Concordia at Ridgewood Place on the same day in April 2008. A little over eight years later, Andrew was hired as a maintenance technician. The family established boundaries and a focus to promote a healthy work-life balance.

“Home stays home, and work stays at work – that’s how we make it work,” Andrew said. “Our job is to serve the people.”

Related: One Family’s Four Generations of Service to Concordia Residents

Leading by Example

In 2021, Concordia introduced the Stephen W. Johnson Mission Award, the organization’s highest employee honor. At the award’s inaugural ceremony in June 2022, Tammy was one of 31 finalists honored for the difference they make inside and outside of Concordia’s walls. At the 2024 awards ceremony, Andrew and Alyssa were finalists and both earned the distinction of honorable mention.

The family members were nominated by their colleagues and residents at Concordia at Ridgewood Place. The nominations were unique to each of them in various ways; however, there were several connective threads illuminating a familial bond formed with shared traits: always puts others first, positive, encouraging, kind, compassionate, dedicated, sincere, caring heart.

For each, the bond stems back to their homegrown values – nurturing, supporting and teaching one another to grow. 

“To me, it’s just trying to live life by example and hoping the girls would catch on to what Tammy and I tried to project,” Andrew said. “We just try to be good people.”

“We’ve always been a loving family, and I think it’s because we enjoy spending time together,” Tammy said.

“My parents taught me how to be strong, independent, caring and loving,” Alyssa said. “They taught me what a family is supposed to be like.”

The life lessons each have learned from one another are shared with their extended family, both residents and team members alike, at Concordia at Ridgewood Place and in their community. To them, kindness matters and it’s evident in the way they live their lives.  

Andrew, Tammy, Alyssa and Kirsten have been involved in their local communities for several years, all working to make an impact through volunteerism and fundraising for causes close to their hearts.

“At Plum Borough’s Community Days, we help operate a French fry booth and the money is given back to a 501(c)(3),” Andrew said. “It’s important for us to ensure that the bulk of the money goes back to help the cause and not get tied into administrative fees.”

In 2021, Andrew and his family helped to raise $3,000 for McGuire Memorial, a ministry providing comprehensive services to people with intellectual and physical disabilities.

“My brother had cerebral palsy and went to McGuire every day to learn how to walk,” Andrew said. “I always wanted to do something to give back to the charity and that was my opportunity.”

For over two decades, the Fernandez family has led by example and shared their faith in caring with the Concordia family. They were each asked to define “family,” and they each gave the same, single-word response: everything.

Concordia offers unparalleled employee benefits – most are visible, but many are to be experienced: an employee-centric culture built on a mission of helping others and the rewards that come from having a career with purpose and meaning.

For more information about our career opportunities in Western Pennsylvania, Eastern Ohio and Tampa, Florida, visit our careers page or send us a message through our contact form.  

Founded in 1881, Concordia Lutheran Ministries is a faith-based, CARF-accredited Aging Services Network and recipient of the inaugural Pennsylvania Department of Aging Excellence in Quality Care Award. As one of the largest nonprofit senior care providers in the country, the organization serves 50,000 people annually through in-home care and inpatient locations.

Get Updates From Concordia

There is always a LOT happening at Concordia! Would you like to stay up-to-date with our news and events? Sign up for our monthly e-newsletter here.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.