Heritage Ministries Raising Funds For Site Improvements

The Bergquist Memorial assisted living residence has received an updated exterior design, as will a few other buildings at Heritage Ministries’ Homestead in Gerry. P-J photo by Eric Zavinski

GERRY — More than $12 million is being raised for Heritage Ministries, a collection of nursing facilities for seniors, so that the 2,400 residents cared for nationwide can receive a better quality of life.

“Heritage continues to embark on a capital campaign ‘Preserving Our Past, Preparing Our Future’ for a $12 million investment which directly impacts our community and those we serve,” said Lisa Haglund, vice president of marketing and development.

A new community center and equestrian center at Heritage’s homestead and village locations in Gerry are two major additions CEO David Smeltzer and his staff are adding, with the community center slated for a late 2019 opening and the Homestead Stables expected to be finished by the end of 2018.

The dozens of residents in independent housing and assisted living residences will be able to take advantage of the new amenities.

The so far unnamed community center will feature a restaurant, which will be open to the public, along with a cafe, dining space, full-service kitchen, office space and an activity center.

The incoming stables will also be open to the public. Heritage’s campaign, which has already met half of the intended goal, is being funded through donations and loans; to have $3 million of $12 million donated is the plan. Part of the mission is also to improve the offerings of the nursing homes, provide better memory care, increase financial stability and renovate some existing buildings as well add the community and equestrian centers.

“It was really either do those things or figure out how to exit the business,” Smeltzer said.

Smeltzer said that staying market-relevant requires many specific improvements, especially regarding dining services. Restaurant-style dining is becoming a more popular and implemented feature in nursing homes across the country.

The equestrian center will also provide a therapeutic escape for residents and community members struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental illnesses. The building will include 41 stables, a 100 feet by 215 feet riding arena and air-conditioned viewing room. Smeltzer thinks the calming experience with horses will attract more potential residents. At least three full-time employees will work the stables along with Stable Manager and Lead Instructor Heather Payne.

Another added feature will be co-habitation in some residences. Spouses will be able to live jointly in new rooms in the Bergquist Memorial assisted living residence in 2020. Three private and three semi-private apartments will be added at the Gerry homestead.

A capital campaign committee is currently searching for donors and plans to host events to spread awareness of the campaign in the future. Lots of naming opportunities exist for community center, restaurant, equestrian center and individual room branding.

“We … are confident that improvements will position our not-for-profit to meet future needs of seniors in our community,” Haglund said. “We remain as committed to living our mission of providing hope, dignity and purposeful living as we were 131 years ago.”

Capital expenditures and improvements began three years ago and are set to continue for a few more years. An approximate $1.2 million estate gift was already donated from someone interested in Heritage’s Methodist-driven care of seniors. More donations have also begun.

Those who have an interest in donating can contact Haglund at 985-6850 or lhaglund@marketing1886.org. Heritage aims to have commitments for all desired donations within one year, and depending on individual gift sizes, donors can spread their capital out over a three to five-year period.