Friday, July 31, 2015

Angels from the Past

The "senior citizen village" is now more than a dream.  The funding has been established and the groundbreaking set.  This was not the time to relax though.  The board of trustees was formalized and the articles of incorporation were established.  And Lois Bratka, chair of the development and service committees implemented the Green Hills Auxiliary.

The Auxiliary members represented the sponsoring churches.  Each church had one congregation member on the Auxiliary board and several volunteers. Early on the Auxiliary bought those non-essential items that made the center more like a home, which was part of the original mission.  Later after the apartments and then the care center opened the Auxiliary led crafts with the residents, planned parties and helped raise money for those items that make life more comfortable but wouldn't be considered a necessity. Things like an oven for the community room, patio furniture, garden plots, furnishings for the care center and so very much more.  They visited residents in health care, and folks who spent time in the hospital.  They offered transportation to those who wanted to get off campus as well.  They were the face people saw when they waked through the door seven days a week including holidays!

As you read their by-laws and expectations it is very clear that they continued the whole person wellness philosophy as well as what we call person directed care today.  Ella Kauffman reported to the Auxiliary the following statement in 1976:

     "One of the biggest problems I see for those coming to the care center is having to part with so many of life's material goods.  They may not feel like they can do as much, and therefore feel un-noticed or unimportant.  It is our job to to care, to listen and make sure they feel worthy and accomplished. No one can take away memories but we can give the gift of listening to those memories.

The Auxiliary became a key part of every project that benefited the residents for many years.   They were the volunteer base from 1974 until the mid 1990's.  They were truly angels of Green Hills Community!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Perseverance Pays Off

The dream to build a "senior citizen village" was shared by an entire town.  The news of the $1.5 million price tag didn't deter them.  The women got the ball rolling with their bake sale. Later, Loren King took on the responsibility of the fund raising.  

The consultants said a town the size of West Liberty couldn't raise the dollars needed to see their dream become a reality.  That did not deter the townspeople.  They continued to meet and plan as if they already had the funding needed. Seven churches joined together to comprise the corporation. Those churches were Bethel, South Union, and oak Grove Mennonite congregations, Church of God, Mt. Carmel Friend church, Grace Chapel and the United Church of Christ.  (all continue to be sponsoring churches today) Two members of each of these churches formed the original board of trustees.  

It's so interesting that this first board of trustees was so creative in their fund development strategy.  
They learned that the Farmer's Home Administration had money for building in rural areas.  They worked with them to receive a $1 million loan.  This was the first of it's kind given to a senior housing and nursing campus.  Once again a group of people who had no experience in senior housing or nursing care lead the way with an innovative idea. That particular idea got them 2/3 of their funding!

The bulk of the final $500,000 came from 447 individuals.  Each of the seven sponsoring churches asked every member to give.  (see picture of pledge cards they kept) The gifts ranged from $5 to $5000.  The equivalent of those gifts today would be $25.14 to $25, 412.55.

This part of the Green Hills story continues the progressive thinking that still sets Green Hills apart today.  It also highlights the fact that ordinary people gave what they could to build a dream.  One church alone couldn't have done it, but the power of those seven churches built the Green Hills legacy.  

Friday, July 17, 2015

“Our purpose is to meet the total needs – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual – of the older person, to offer a secure environment, a sense of dignity, and to help him/her retain his/her life style.”

This is the original purpose statement written by the founding fathers of Green Hills Community. In 1972 they had this vision for their senior citizen village. They wanted their elder loved ones to age in a place like home, with dignity and was focused on their entire well-being.

Wow, that is what every aging services provider strives for today. Some are good at it, others are still striving to reach that goal and still others just don't get it. But Green Hills has been doing it for 40 years, and doing it well!

There is so much about the Green Hills story that is fascinating, but the fact that this group of pioneers had a vision that was so progressive is the most amazing. These folks weren't in health care or senior housing. They knew nothing about how these industries worked. Yet they wrote a purpose statement that holds up and is even still progressive 40 years later!

So you have to ask, why did they choose this purpose statement? That was not the language used back then in healthcare of senior housing. Perhaps it can be found in the belief statement they wrote at that same time. 

"We believe in a ministry to the aging for those whose personal needs we have special concern. We believe in a ministry with the aging as we seek to involve them as partners in the total program. We believe in a ministry of the aging in which their special gifts of maturity, understanding, vision, concern and experience are recognized and utilized." 

These folks didn't know the "rules" for senior housing or health care.  They simply knew what they wanted for their loved ones.  And they were right on.  

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

It all started with a bake sale.  I love to tell this story.  A story of big dreams and a small town.  A story of perseverance, dedication and hard work.  A story that changed the lives of elders in and around West Liberty.

In 1968 several men talked about a building a "senior citizen village."   Their vision was a place that would include the residents in how it was run.  A place that would offer complete wellness, an idea far ahead of it's time.  A place that invited the residents to use their own knowledge and unique experiences to make it great.  

They did all the usual things; had a meeting, took a vote, got a quote.  This is where the unusual happened.  The quote was for $1,000,000 to build their village.  While the group forged ahead, there was one moment of despair among two of the original founders, Ira Thut and Walter Lautenbach.  But right in that moment of despair Ira's wife came home from her sewing circle and said, "The ladies are having a bake sale for our senior citizen village. We need to get started."  That bake sale raised $2232, equivalent to $10,505 today.  

That is why we say it all started with a bake sale!

Next up - find out about Green Hills original purpose statement and why it is even more relevant today!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Eat Well, Live Well



When we think of physical wellness we think of exercise. But how we eat goes hand in hand with our exercise routines. Generally, doctors will recommend a well-balanced diet for older adults, meaning that they should eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, proteins and whole grains to maintain and improve overall health, according the American Dietetic Association.  
   As we age it is important to make sure we are getting enough omega 3 fatty acids.  These acids are proven to reduce inflammation that can cause heart disease, cancer and arthritis. They can be found in flaxseeds and flaxseed oil, walnuts, canola oil, and different types of fish. Elders should have foods rich in this nutrient twice per week. 
   The need for calcium also increases the older we get.  The primary need for calcium is for bone health.  Doctors recommend 1200 milligrams a day.  Milk, fortified orange juice, yogurt and kale are good sources of calcium.  
   If you are finding it difficult to get the necessary omega 3 fatty acids or calcium talk to your doctor about whether a supplement is right for you.   And don't forget to eat all those fruits and vegetables!
   If you want more information about healthy eating visit