Associate Close-Up: Reverend Beth Mallozzi
We recently sat down with the Director of Mission and Pastoral Care at The Shores to learn more about her and her passion for senior care and services. These are her words:
What is your name and position?
I’m Rev. Beth Mallozzi, Director of Mission and Pastoral Care at The Shores.
What do you like best about working for United Methodist Communities?
I have a lot of “bests.” I love the people. The residents are amazing with daunting and inspiring stories and the people I work with every day are passionate and dedicated. One favorite thing I love is that we are a diverse community. There are many traditions reflected in our residents and staff … and I get to be a part of supporting people’s spiritual journeys in a variety of ways.
What makes United Methodist Communities unique?
Our history is still living in the heart of our mission. We are not just a business, nor a group of people doing a job. Every person here has a holy purpose in serving this community of elders, and the many others related to them.
What does “Abundant Life” mean to you?
Abundant life to me is a life fully lived for God. That is a servant life with meaning and joy. That is a life lived with healthy self-care and honest, supportive relationships. I see that abundance in my residents every single day. They may struggle with whatever, but they have a faith and hope that carries them through difficulties that seem insurmountable.
What have you learned from working at UMC?
I’ve learned that I have a lot to learn. I’ve learned that a mission done by a team is far more joyful and efficient than one lone ranger missionary. Our care conferences bring many disciplines together, so that our residents’ holistic health is addressed. My pastoral care helps others understand and perform their jobs better. Likewise, others help me to care for our residents appropriately. It is an amazing thing to work with this interdisciplinary approach.
What has been your proudest moment at UMC?
Hard to say. I have left work many times just so happy to be invited to be present with residents in deep distress. I walk to my car saying to myself, “God, thank you for making me a chaplain!” I am also proud of special group events that indirectly address spiritual needs. For instance, this summer I organized a program called “God’s Flower Garden” and we built a garden with a variety of flowers, sharing stories, histories and songs.
I worked hard to include residents from every part of our community as a reflection of us as a garden of flowers. My speaking role was only five minutes, out of more than an hour of smiles, laughter and joy. And in that short time, I suggested that every one of us in all our varieties were made beautiful by God. And this community and world was more wonderful by the diversity among us, very much like God’s flower garden. What a great day that was for all of us, and I believe God smiled.
What has been your career progression at UMC?
I have been here in this position for four and a half years. While remaining in the same position, I have built a strong team of volunteer chaplains that enhance outreach to residents with professional level spiritual care across the community.
I have also developed a Jewish ministry by building a relationship with Rabbi Jonathan Kremmer of Beth Judah Congregation in nearby Ventnor. I continue to pursue my Board Certification with the Association of Professional Chaplains for which I will be interviewing in 2018.
Why did you choose senior care and services?
Senior care chose me, really. I thought I’d be a parish pastor forever. Then through my husband’s injury and loss of job, we landed in eastern Kentucky. I accepted a trauma hospital residency so I would grow as a local pastor. But through that time, God opened what became the United Methodist Communities’ door. The moment I saw the position advertisement, I knew this is where I was meant to be. Since then, I’ve never doubted it.
Is there an older adult who had a strong influence on your life?
My parents were lay missionaries to Japan for 22 years. Dad influenced me to find work that I loved, not just a job that paid the bills. Mom, a psychiatric nurse who never found any one she couldn’t love, possessed great compassion and empathy.
Do you have a prominent memory of your grandmother and/or grandfather?
Since I grew up overseas, memories of my grandparents are limited. But I remember when my mother’s mom came to Japan for a year as a short-term missionary. We got to see her often that year. I remember she made me coconut cookies and I had to eat them even though I hate coconut!
Where did you grow up? Where else have you lived?
I was “made in Japan.” After 13 years living in Tokyo, I moved to Croton-on-Hudson, New York. I became a New York City gal, until my husband Tony and I moved with our two small children to Binghamton, New York. While there, I went to seminary and began the nomadic experience of pastoral assignments.
When my dad was declining, we decided to move to Delaware to be closer to family. From there, we found ourselves in eastern Kentucky with my husband’s job, and then finally here in New Jersey. From driving through northern New Jersey many times, I was certain I would NEVER live in New Jersey. But God’s sense of humor has me here for good. And I love him for it!
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
Walking, hiking, swimming, biking, skiing, movies, books, music, museums, journaling, quiet time, and visiting with friends and family.
What is your favorite family tradition?
Singing together. Skiing together. Hiking together. We did have a worship tradition together, but these days our family worships differently.
What are you most grateful for in your life?
You might expect a pastor to say something religious on this. I try to be unique and surprising, but alas, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for God’s amazing love in my life. My life hasn’t been a bed of roses and I am grateful for that. Each time I have felt utterly lost, desperately angry or sick in my spirit, I have found my Jesus in the dark, bringing me to the light.
Yes, I’m very grateful for Tony, my husband of 33 years, and my amazing children, Peter and Sandy. They’re blessings, gifts of love from an awesome God. But the best gift of my life is knowing peace. Part of that peace is being here at The Shores, a place where I can be authentic in my call to serve God.