Green House Blog

Resthaven Breaks Ground for Second Green House Home

“The Green House helps give us tangible ways to live out our mission in the way we give care” – Deedre Vriesman, Resthaven CEO.

On June 25, Resthaven team members celebrated the groundbreaking of their second Green House home, officially kicking off development of the Janssen Cottage.  In 2007 the Boersma Cottage opened at Resthaven for 10 elders.



The ceremony included a special thank you to the Resthaven Board of Directors, the Janssen family, all the donors, GMB Architecture & Engineering, CL Construction and the Holland community who are making this home a reality.

Congratulations to all!

A Son Expresses The Need for Green House homes in Every Community

A son’s personal experience shapes his support for bringing The Green House model to Maplewood Nursing home, in Cheshire County, NH.

As someone whose father greatly benefited from living in a Green House cottage, I feel compelled to lend my voice in support of the concept as the proposed alternative to the deteriorating Maplewood nursing facility which now serves many needy elders of Cheshire County.

Paul JenkinsMy father was a well-educated, highly respected writer and clergyman who, in his final years of life, had the misfortune to develop Lewy Body Dementia, a disease that resembles a devastating combination of Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. It was one of the most difficult experiences of my life to watch this highly articulate man robbed of his joy, his speech, and, eventually, his mind.

When it became evident to our family that my mother could no longer care for my father in their home, we were blessed with the opportunity to be part of a Green House community in Holland, Michigan. The Green House concept is light years ahead of the type of care that has typically been given in places such as Maplewood Center. Maplewood has been a valued and effective facility for many years, but it simply cannot compare to a Green House setting. Green House residents live in private rooms with private baths. They are always treated with respect and dignity. They are referred to as “elders” rather than “patients.” Living, recreating and dining among a small community affords them with companionship that is so vital to their continued health. Family members are always welcomed at meals and other activities.

Before my father entered the Boersma Cottage, he was sinking deeper and deeper into depression, withdrawing from life, and was rapidly losing his desire to live. What struck me as miraculous is that, within a few weeks of his arrival, he started to regain his sense of humor and even had a playful quality about him that had been lacking in recent months. It is true that, because of his dementia, he was no longer fully the man I had known and loved. But the person that he became in his final months was well cared for and enjoyed a quality of life that, in my experience of such care – which is quite extensive – is unparalleled. My only regret is that he didn’t come to a Green House home earlier so that he might have enjoyed even more of its benefits. In the end, his death was a good one and for that I will always be grateful.

The Green House concept is, I believe, at this time the best way to provide quality of life for those in need of long-term care. It respects the dignity of the person and values the gifts that they still bring to the lives of others.

It’s time for Cheshire County to embrace this truly remarkable approach.

The Rev. Mark A. Jenkins

Rector, St. James Episcopal Church, Keene

Stories of Love and Family from Boersma Cottage

While attending a Green House Conference, one of the main things that was discussed was “The Story”. The Story as they say has a beginning, middle, and an end, it can be a sad story, a happy story one with lots of twists and turns or it can be a very simple story. My story, or rather, our story, is all of the above and more.

At Boersma Cottage, The Green House home at Resthaven Care Community in Holland, MI, there is an Elder who lives with Muscular Dystrophy. Through his illness, he is confined to a scooter and he finds it hard to lift his head. It is a struggle every day for him to perform everyday tasks, yet it rarely slows him down. He has a son that struggles in his day to day life as well and is in need of a liver transplant. On a cold night in November, our Elder received a phone call that struck terror into His heart, as it would any parent. The call was to say that the Elder’s son was enroute to the hospital, and they didn’t know if he would pull through. Our Elder was upset, to say the least. The Nurse and the Shahbaz on duty instantly knew something terrible had happened and stepped up the plate to help. While trying to find out answers, we focused on the needs of the Elder, since he was worried sick, not just for his son, but also, his wife.

So we did what needed to be done even if it meant we were going to have to load him and his scooter up in the back of our Nurse’s pickup truck to get him to the hospital. We called to our legacy home and found our ever-willing Floor Man and asked him for a huge favor. We asked if he could please drive our Elder to the hospital so that he could be with His son and Wife? We had no sooner asked than he called his supervisor who said he could use the van to drive our Elder to the hospital. In less than 15 min our Elder was loaded up and on his way to the hospital. His wife was surprised as all get out when her husband came rolling into the hospital. She needed the support and our Elder got to be what he is, “the Man of the House”. Our Elder got to see his son whom he hadn’t been able to see in 4 months due to his son’s illness. He was able to reassure His wife and son and be with them in a great time of need. When our Elder arrived back home he was relieved and very happy. It was one of the very few times that we got to see our Elder smile.

I am proud to say that I am part of an amazing team that will do whatever it takes to be there for our Elders. Everyone was so willing to pitch in, everything worked smoothly, as if every move was pre-planned. Our Elder thanked us repeatedly for helping him, and each one of us told him the same thing, “We are a family and that’s what families do. God blessed us to be together and together we all are family. “

Our story is ongoing and I am sure there will be many more twists and turns, but to end this tale on a wonderful note , our Elder’s son did get his liver and is doing well. Thank you God.