Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Letter to the Editor

My gentle snowflakes, with some pride, I tell you that my hometown owns and runs a very excellent retirement community for the people who can still live independently. It is called the Homestead Retirement Community

Since the economic downturn, our little town has been seeking ways to cut costs. Some short sighted people have been campaigning to sell The Homestead. They want to take it out of the public sector (where it is run for the good of the occupants and the community) and sell it to some for-profit corporation or LLC (which must, because that is the duty of a for-profit group, run it with the sole desired outcome of making money--as much as possible). Now, the City Fathers have actually taken that very, fateful step:  the Homestead is for sale

I was personally livid over this development. Consider that:  me, livid. I have a nephew who gained a place in our family lore by uttering the phrase, "Careful, Glenna [that's me] will get ugly."

So, being me, I dragged out my soap box, dusted it off, climbed aboard, sharpened my "pen" and fired off a letter to my local paper.
I think it is horrendous that the City is trying to sell the Homestead. 

It may be "good business" but it creates a lousy perception of what "society" (as in the social fabric of the community) is in Alva! 
 If memory serves me correctly, Alva voted for the Homestead because there was a lack of adult living space for those citizens who were not in need of rest home care (Beadles, Share, etc) but who were concerned to keep living alone.  [I have, since this letter was published in the local paper, been set straight by a very highly placed source:  "citizens did not vote; there was a survey with overwhelming positive results."] 
The creation of such a facility in Alva would enhance the community. It would show that the people of Alva valued ALL members of the community. It would allow more people to stay active in Alva, longer. It was to be a contract Alva made with its citizens.
 Enid, Wichita, Oklahoma City offered the type of facility that the Homestead became, but they require a BIG buy-in that was forfeited when the residents moved out. In addition, those other places are not Alva and Alva residents are in Alva because they want to be--their friends are here, their church is here. 

I have taken several of my friends from out of town to see the Homestead. People from the Dallas-Ft Worth Metroplex, the Boston area, the Denver locale, the San Francisco region, all rave about how wonderful the place is. When I tell them there is no buy-in they all really do a double take in amazement. They bemoan the fact that there is nothing similar in their own geographic area or in the area where their aging parents live. 

Alva could certainly do a better job of advertising the Homestead. Also, if residents could bring their pet--say one small dog or one cat or one bird--more would move to the Homestead earlier, at a younger age. Someone bringing a pet could pay more of a "cleaning deposit" than others; they could pay a little more each month for the pet. I am sure some set of rules could be worked out.

I really, firmly believe that Alva should re-think this business of selling such a fantastic asset as the Homestead. Finally, since the oil and gas boom has come to town, surely Alva can find the money to continue offering this jewel to our older citizens.
I have not changed my mind. I still think it is an incredibly BAD idea to sell this community treasure.


  1. I think you are being short sighted - the asset will still remain in your community, regardless of ownership.

    I'm sure City leaders have made this difficult decision after in depth research - I'd encourage you to investigate further. In our community, we created a new private nonprofit entity and purchased the existing retirement center. It's been a positive move for rural town of less than 2500 residents.

    Local control could be in your court...

    1. Anne, thank you for your interest. I wish you had included your hometown as I would have liked to look into your community's solution as I have not abandoned helping seek a solution to this problem.

      However, I must stress that, if sold outright, this community would retain no oversight of The Homestead. The physical building might still be here, but there would be no guarantee that the very reasonable rents would not be raised beyond what the current residents can afford. This community does not need another ordinary apartment complex nearly as much as it needs this resource for our aging parents and friends.

      I do find your community's creation of a private nonprofit entity intriguing. That is a very creative solution to a problem. I did not understand, though, from your comment what the nonprofit purchased. A "retirement center" could be a sort of day resource or recreation center for seniors--here, we call that the Senior Citizens Center. The Homestead is a place to sleep, live, retain ones dignity, be.