Several years ago, when Jody G. started working at Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community (VMRC), she watched a video about the Green House Homes that were to be built. Immediately she fell in love with the concepts and wanted to become a shahbaz, the name for each person who works in the home.
I knew right then that I wanted to go to work in a Green House with its atmosphere conducive to building relationships and where the residents would have a say in what happens each day,” she said. “I couldn’t wait until the houses were built.”
The second celebration at VMRC was a day to thank collaborators – attending from near and far — people who worked together to bring the new Green House Homes to life. According to CEO Ron Yoder, the entire process took nine years and two months of hard work — dreaming, envisioning, planning, designing, and building three houses. The plan is to build a total of ten houses, each with living space for ten residents. Check out the many pictures on this blog or check out the pictures of the inside of the Woodland Park homes at the VMRC website.
Sunday’s speakers included representatives from the Mennonite Health Services Alliance and the Virginia Association of Nonprofit Homes for Aging, and both groups will probably arrange to bring members to visit and learn more about Woodland Park. Susan Frazier, the CEO of NCB Capital Impact, a nonprofit that partners with organizations to improve elder care, shared some Green House Homes facts (see below). Thanks were offered to the architects and interior designers who created the beautiful spaces and made them look like real homes, and extra special recognition was given to VMRC staff members like Jody G., who will work in the homes as shahbazim — sharing, working, and caring for the residents in each house.
“Now I don’t mind getting old,” exclaimed Marie Detwiler, age 91, as she explored a new Woodland Park Green House Home at Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community (VMRC). She understands the Woodland Park philosophy as do lots of others attending the first of two grand opening events in Harrisonburg, Virginia.
After chatting with Mrs. Detwiler, I remembered my reaction last week when I dropped into one of the homes for a sneak preview. “Exquisite,” I kept saying to myself as I walked from room-to-room.
Today (January 5, 2013) we celebrated at the first of two Woodland Park grand opening events — almost one year to the day since the groundbreaking. With these first Green House Homes in the Commonwealth of Virginia, VMRC aims to start a trend, encouraging other providers to recast the way they address aging issues and helping elders age well in a caring community that preserves their independence — even when they need considerable medical support.
Ron Yoder, the VMRC Chief Executive Officer, shared his thoughts about Woodland Park, thanking scores of people — contributors, committees, builders, planners, fundraisers, and everyone else who has made it possible for VMRC to design and build the new community. Each resident, Yoder noted, is assured privacy in his or her own bedroom and bathroom, ample common living space, easy access to a kitchen, wireless, and plenty of outside space to enjoy. Read more »
Lots of people are working all over the place at the Green House Homes at Woodland Park in Harrisonburg, Virginia. At Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community (VMRC) the staff is in training, the furniture is arranged, and everywhere people are making last-minute tweaks.
Have I mentioned how much I LOVE the kitchens?
One of the homes will be ready for residents in two weeks. VMRC is about to add a new community to its vibrant and caring culture. Grand opening ceremonies are January 5th and 6th at VMRC.
I will be blogging from the events on Saturday and Sunday.
It snowed last week in the Shenandoah Valley, and I took this picture of one of the new homes at Woodland Park.
BTW: These homes have mountain views!
If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time or even occasionally, you know that I’ve been keeping track of the new Green House Homes at Woodland Park with descriptions, pictures from the groundbreaking, and many construction images. The new neighborhood in Harrisonburg, Virginia, will be a special community that enables elders who have traditionally needed support in a nursing home, to live in a home setting while continuing to maintain much independence. Check out all of my posts about Woodland Park below.
The good news is that the these three beautiful homes at Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community are almost finished. The grand opening weekend is January 5th and 6th. After that, move-in begins, with each home welcoming residents and establishing itself over a two-week period (6 weeks total).
I toured one of the Woodland Park homes recently. Finishing details were in progress, but already the house was filled with light and space, a private room for each resident, a kitchen that anyone can use, and lots of common areas, including a great (and grand) fireplace. The houses are constructed to be accessible — but almost nothing looks institutional. The goal of these homes is to provide a place where elders can live and “maintain self-care abilities longer, experience less depression, and receive timelier intervention as health conditions change.” (VMRC website). Basically, these beautiful buildings look like — well homes.
The VMRC Green Houses at Woodland Park are beginning to look like real houses with roofs, windows, and doors. Now much of the construction has moved indoors. This time when I visited, Mr. Marvin Nisely, who supervises the construction at Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community, took me on an inside tour of one of the homes.
Expand this post to see descriptions of the photos.
Last weekend I spent the day with my parents at Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community. On a beautiful Shenandoah Valley late spring day, we walked around near the construction site and shot these pictures of the Green Houses slowly turning into Green Homes. Two buildings have walls and roofs and the third has its foundation. So much to see!
I’ll be spending several days with my parents next week, and I hope to get permission to shoot a few pictures from inside the the buildings. More later.
To learn more please read these posts about Woodland Park Green House Homes, a new community at Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community. Read more »
This interesting article, Nursing Homes Trend Toward More Homey, Less Institutional Settings, in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle describes the quality-of-life changes that residents and families experience when a family member lives in a Green House Project home. Reporter Patti Singer provides a window, allowing readers a glimpse of life in a care community where elders’ lives are far less connected to a medical model.
Late yesterday afternoon, January 5, 2012, I attended a groundbreaking event at Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community (VMRC). Several hundred residents, family members, VMRC staff, board members, and friends celebrated the beginning of construction on three new Green House® Homes – the first residences in a new community to be called Woodland Park.
While most of the event was held inside an auditorium, the shoveling itself was outside. To ensure the widest participation on a cool January day, VMRC event organizers double-staged the outdoor festivities via a video feed, enabling residents to remain inside and still take an active part.
The philosophy behind Green House® projects is revolutionary, seeking no less than the complete transformation of long-term care for seniors who need 24-hour nursing support (check out some of my other posts below). New Green House® Homes around the country banish the medical model and demonstrate how it’s possible for elderly seniors to thrive while receiving the medical care they need, all the while living in a home that supports their freedom, dignity, and personal preferences. Green House® communities may look different from one another because they are expressly designed to blend in with the rest of a city, town or neighborhood, looking like any other homes in the area. Read more »