Staff and tenants of Spring Valley Senior Living are preparing for a 55th anniversary celebration coming this Saturday. In front, from left, are Sandy Voeltz, Mikel Sexton, Krista Johnson and Ashley Cleveland. In the second row are Elaine Bacon, Lenora Hintze, Mildred Grabau, Marjorie Early, Helen Reed, Elmer Grabau and Austin Molitor. In back are Lyle Kruse, Eric Dudley, Bill Homen, Verlyn Lange, Laura Forland, Evelyn Armstrong, Bill Hale, Jacque Eickhoff, Courtney Cosman, Gayle Leibfried, Peg Swenson, Mary Self, Brian Schonning and Lisa Krebs.
Staff and tenants of Spring Valley Senior Living are preparing for a 55th anniversary celebration coming this Saturday. In front, from left, are Sandy Voeltz, Mikel Sexton, Krista Johnson and Ashley Cleveland. In the second row are Elaine Bacon, Lenora Hintze, Mildred Grabau, Marjorie Early, Helen Reed, Elmer Grabau and Austin Molitor. In back are Lyle Kruse, Eric Dudley, Bill Homen, Verlyn Lange, Laura Forland, Evelyn Armstrong, Bill Hale, Jacque Eickhoff, Courtney Cosman, Gayle Leibfried, Peg Swenson, Mary Self, Brian Schonning and Lisa Krebs.
"They always looked to the future - they didn't decide to quit, and we still have the same governance that we started with 55 years ago. The beauty is that this community is strong and able to take care of its own...there's no change in ownership after 55 years - it's still the same community-based non-profit," said Spring Valley Senior Living (SVSL) director Penny Solberg.

Her words are in reference to the upcoming 55th anniversary of Community Memorial Hospital, Inc. (CMH), and the celebration to be held marking that occasion this Saturday, May 4, featuring a special presentation, memorabilia and refreshments at the Spring Valley Estates Assisted Living.

The founders of Community Memorial Hospital, Inc., including Kenneth Churchill, Joseph Mlinar and Carlyle Challgren, came together on May 17, 1958, to form the advisory committee and organization, CMH, that would eventually break ground for Spring Valley's Community Memorial Hospital in 1962, laying the footprint for the present-day Spring Valley Senior Living complex, which includes skilled nursing care, assisted living and independent living facilities.

"The founding fathers formally organized Community Memorial Hospital in 1958, but it wasn't until 1962 that they were able to open it," said Solberg. "The nursing home was built in 1976, and in the late 1980s, the home health agency was added. In the late '90s, the hospital evolved into the Estates, and in 2007, we opened the Evergreens Independent Living Apartments. We're now working on another project, and there's more news coming in the next month about a collaboration with a local health service provider. This organization - Community Memorial Hospital -- and facility have been wonderful services to the community."

Solberg added, "As manager of the organization, I've seen how the people taking care of the residents and tenants are caring individuals. They don't come here just as a job...they embrace relationships. It's built more as a family. And the residents and tenants...when they come here, they have almost everything they need, including therapy, the nursing home, housing or meals, extra care they don't have to leave the building to get. They have so many options as older adults. We attempt not to limit things so that they can age in place as long as possible."

Tenant Aleda Schwier recently moved to the Evergreens from an apartment in Wykoff, and she's glad she did so. "I love it here. Everybody is so kind. There's so much going on every day, and the meals are good."

Her visiting daughters concurred that their mother is much happier in her new home since she has plenty to keep her busy, and they noted that they can seldom predict when to call her anymore because she's constantly out and about, walking the halls or visiting neighbors or SVSL staff.

SVSL Program Development director De Vreeman noted that the Evergreens, built five years ago, is part of the "diversification process...and we're glad that the organization's leadership is looking to the future, looking at the big picture," and that additions to the campus only enhance its value.

With the prospect of expanding SVSL to include more services - some in partnership with well-established entities - the long term future looks bright, according to Solberg and Vreeman, who invited the public to attend the open house and enjoy spending time together, reminiscing about how the organization began and how it has benefited the local citizens and their children and grandchildren, promising an opportunity for visitors to peruse the scrapbooks, tour apartments, chat with residents and tenants and more.

Spring Valley Senior Living's Community Memorial Hospital 55th anniversary open house is scheduled for Saturday, May 4, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., with the special presentation slated for 2 p.m. in the Spring Valley Estates Assisted Living great room. Refreshments will be served, memorabilia will be on display and souvenirs will be available for purchase. For more information, contact Spring Valley Senior Living at 346-7381.