“I want to call your attention to the wind. I don’t know if you’ve noticed but it’s been blowing!” With those words, Dr. Bill Thomas stated the obvious but also drew attention to how the “winds of change” have been blowing at Mennonite Home Communities for over fifty years. The most recent change was why he and others were gathered that day; the blessing of the first two Green House homes in Ohio.
It was a very blustery day as over 250 people gathered under a tent to participate in “A Home Blessing: Celebrating Life.” The hour-long celebration was marked by Laura Voth, CEO, retelling the eight-year-long journey of persistence and patience that brought Mennonite Home Communities to that day. Words of thanks were expressed to many people for making that day possible; THE GREEN HOUSE® Project, pH7 Architects, Garlock Brothers Construction, Citizens National Bank, many subcontractors, and staff. Community supporters were also thanked for the $1.8 million contributed toward the New Vision: Transforming Elder Living campaign that made the project financially feasible.
Phyllis Osborne, an elder who will be moving into one of the homes at Willow Ridge, shared how she had a change of heart about The Green House project. As an assisted living resident, she was very happy right where she was and couldn’t think of living anywhere else. When her doctor encouraged her to consider nursing care, she had to “eat crow” and “begged” to see the homes at Willow Ridge. When she and her family toured the homes, she knew immediately that this was the place for her. Phyllis, along with her son, a Shahbaz and a member of the clinical support team spoke a litany of mutual support and commitment to one another as a plant was symbolically transplanted and watered. The litany ended with the following words spoken by those gathered, “Together we nurture one another. May our Creator bless these homes with purpose and life.”
Lisa Maxwell, Green House Project Guide, shared the importance of being part of the broader Green House network and Ohio Long Term Care Ombudsman expressed appreciation for the person-centered care and culture change focus The Green House homes make possible.
As guests exited the tent they were given a yellow tulip bulb to which was attached the following verse of poetry; “An elder is a person who is still growing, still a learner, still with potential and whose life continues to have within it promise for and connection to the future.”
The celebration ended with a tour of The Green House homes. Lots of “wows” and “this is beautiful” were heard as guests snacked on cookies made in the homes by Willow Ridge staff.