By Scott Tedrick
It’s a little painful for Mark Jensen to look back at the last years of his father’s while confined to a nursing home up north. Paralyzed by a sudden stroke in Valentine’s Day 2002, Jensen recalled how tough it was to see him suffering, not only from the loss of function, but the loss of dignity as he had to exist in such a state while packed tight into a tiny, six–person room separated only by a cloth divider.
“He would have accidents happen and they would have to clear everybody out of the room so that staff could clean up and wheel him into the bathroom,” recalled Jensen. “To me, everyone should have their own room with a bathroom and shower, and when those things do happen you can still maintain the dignity at the end of life that we were all born with.”
With the memory of his father’s tears as he begged to be brought home still fresh in his mind, Jensen says that he has embraced the opportunity to help others avoid such indignities as a member of a ten member community leadership team working to raise $2 million for the new Granite Falls Manor.
“I get my passion for the project from my father,” Jensen said simply.
Since December the leadership team has worked to roll out a Community Capital Campaign under the guidance of fundraising experts, Jackson and Associates, of Evergreen, Colorado.
Thus far the leadership team has reached to lead business and individual donors––and with nearly $1.4 million of the $2 million capital campaign in hand, to say that the effort has been successful thus far is an understatement.
“I’ve been blown away by what people have committed,” said Granite Falls CEO and Manager George Gerlach. “To see the level of confidence and support for our vision to service the community… I don’t know how to say how gratifying that is.”
The city of Granite Falls broke ground on a new Manor facility this past August on Jordan Drive east of Granite Ridge Place, an independent living senior housing facility.
A $11.8 million, 40-year USDA Rural Development loan, is funding the 48-bed nursing home which consists of two, 24 resident ‘neighborhoods’ and ‘four,’ 12 resident households,” for 40 private rooms and eight semi-private rooms.
The original loan, Gerlach said, covers the barebones of the project while the fundraising efforts will serve to provide the bells and whistles––from aesthetic landscaping to indoor barbecue equipment––that has the capacity to make the Granite Falls facility the standard when it comes to the western Minnesota manor facilities.
“Statistics say we’re all going to end up in a nursing home some day,” said Jensen. “That’s why we want this to be a nice campus where anyone would want to go.”
While well on the way with the capital campaign, a half-million dollars is still a long ways to go. Jensen said the next step for the capital campaign is to pursue loans from area organizations and individuals until donations, regardless of their size, see the hospital and manor reach or surpass their goal.
For an example of how many hands make for light lifting, one need look no further than the Granite Falls Hospital and Manor staff itself where 29 employees have given over $50,000, either in cash donations or payroll deductions.
Jensen says he hopes to continue to tap into the community members generosity so that the Manor is able to realize its fullest vision, but that he doesn’t want them to feel as if they’ll be harassed while heading down main street.
“We just want a nice campus where anyone would want to go,” he said.
Construction of the project is slated to be completed in late summer, early fall. Individuals interested in contributing to the project should contact Sheryl Walters at (320) 564-6202 .