Submitted by Mary Huebbe, Marketing Director, Ridgecrest Village
Ridgecrest Village is a community rich in faith. I see many kinds of faith demonstrated every day at Ridgecrest. Our residents have faith that we will be honest and always be there for them. Their family members have faith that we will take care of their loved ones. We have faith that people will be honest when discussing needed care. All of these faiths are important. Ridgecrest Village was built on Christian faith 50 years ago, thanks to Rev. Dr. John Koning.
Rev. Dr. John Koning had a vision, and no one could shake him; it was in his heart and soul. He traveled all over to raise funds to see his dream realized. In 1966, he opened the doors to that vision; 20 moving vans arrived that day, bringing people to their new homes. Dr. Koning was Ridgecrest’s first chaplain and administrator. Because of his faith in the Lord, he knew he was starting something good, and he wanted to be certain it would stay that way in the years to come. It wasn’t an easy road to travel—he worked hard to keep things going and make sure the faith-based values that he built Ridgecrest on continued.
It wasn’t until 1973 that the first expansion was completed—a new chapel and activity center were added. The new residents moving in were younger, in their 60s and 70s, and they wanted to continue their active lifestyle yet have security for their future. The Life Care program was a new concept that people had not heard of. It offered an answer to many people’s needs. Who would have thought there was a place that let people move in and maintain an independent rate no matter what level of care they needed. Others in the community thought this was crazy and that he would fail, but here we are 50 years later, still offering the same program as well as other options.
In 1975, they added on again, nearly doubling the size of the Crest Health Center. The demand was now greater for people in need of nursing care, and Ridgecrest was known for showing compassion for seniors and offering exceptional healthcare. Ridgecrest was the place people wanted to be. People had faith in Ridgecrest, and they knew their needs would be met when they came here.
In 1986, a large-scale expansion happened. We added two independent buildings and yet again another wing to our healthcare facility.
The expansion included the Mini Mall, which is an area for socialization, pool tables, an exercise room, shuffleboard, and ping pong tables as well as a general store so our residents don’t have to go out for items if the weather is bad or if they just don’t feel like it.
A few years later, Ridgecrest realized they had a premier place for independent residents as well as nursing and skilled nursing care, but the middle element had been left out. What about the in-between stage—those people that needed a little assistance and couldn’t be independent anymore but didn’t need full nursing care? In 2002, they completed Oakwood Place. This is a state-of-the-art assisted living facility with memory care apartments, called the Gardens, attached. The Gardens allow our residents the independence to go outside with the security of someone there to assist them.
Here we are in 2016, celebrating our 50th anniversary. Bert Vigen is now the executive director and has been since 1996. Much like Dr. Rev. Koning felt, Bert states, “Many things have changed throughout the years, but the one thing that remains the same is the sense of Christian family with the residents and staff.” Bert’s faith helps him maintain those values much like Rev. Koning’s, and he believes they will always be here. Mr. Lundell stated, “Bert is God’s servant! He conducts himself that way. He pours coffee, sweeps floors, and does anything else he can for the people who live or work at Ridgecrest.”
This year, two past board members moved into Ridgecrest Village. They have great stories that need to be shared due to the history they have with Ridgecrest. First are Carl Zurborg and his wife, Norma. They have been living here for three weeks. Norma never wanted to move in. She planned on staying in her home for the remainder of her life. Carl tried many times to talk her into it. He wanted them to have the simpler life. Carl had served on the board for 18 years; he had watched people transition from their homes to the Ridgecrest Community and thought it was wonderful. Norma had visited several times, looking at all of the things that were available, and still didn’t want to move. One night, after she had been at Ridgecrest, she went to bed still determined not to move in. She said she felt like she was awoken out of a deep sleep by the Lord, who told her it was time, so they picked a beautiful cottage to move into and are now a part of the Ridgecrest family. Just the other day, Norma stated, “I can’t believe it, but I don’t even miss my home. I am very happy here, the people are friendly and helpful, and there are a lot of conveniences here that I wouldn’t have if I was still in my home.” Carl said, “If I could give a message to fellow seniors, it would be: There is no other retirement home comparable to this because of the continuum of care. It’s a not-for-profit community and is very well managed. It has integrity and dedication by all people involved. I’ve seen the heart people have here, and it’s all done through God!” It’s funny because Carl said when he met Dr. Rev. Koning about 60 years ago, he felt it was a privilege to meet him, and when he was talking about building Ridgecrest, Carl thought it would never be successful. It was Rev. Koning’s enduring faith that made it happen.
Our other board member is James Lundell and his wife, Twyla. James was invited to serve on the board in 1985. He continued to serve until 2005. James stated, “Being present, listening to others, and being truthful as to agree or disagree with people was one of the most important things about being on [the board].” While he was on the board, they made many decisions about the expansions. He is proud to say these were some of the best decisions they made. James always said the opening prayer before the meeting, and he said that put everyone in the right frame of mind to do what is right for others. Twyla said she enjoyed his time on the board because she was able to come to the Christmas concert they held every year. That always helped her begin her Christmas season. The worship and ambiance was unbelievable.
While James was on the board, he never considered moving in. It wasn’t until a few years ago, when they grew tired of doing the yard work and navigating the steps at home, that the Lundells realized they needed a change. There was no question as to where they should be.
Everyone at Ridgecrest had always been friendly and helpful. They believed in the “faith” Ridgecrest believes in. When you move to Ridgecrest, they allow you to make your place your own by offering many options. Twyla stated that the Maundy Thursday service led by Chaplain Sue, our full–time chaplain moved her in so many ways. She also stated, “One of my favorite things to do is to go to eat in the dining room because the dietary workers are wonderful. Most of them are teenagers working while going to school. They become your family, and they share parts of their lives with us. It’s nice to see they still have manners; you really don’t see that a lot anymore. Most of the staff knows what you want before you order it, and they bring it right to your table so you don’t have to wait for anything. Ridgecrest does an amazing job of making sure their staff has the same values it was built on. Christianity is alive at Ridgecrest.”
With this being our 50th year, we are planning some wonderful events. Several of our residents have been getting together and going through old photographs and papers. They have formed an archives group and have done interviews with many of our older residents and staff. We will be putting up different things that they have found at all of our events. Please watch the magazines for our advertisement so you don’t miss them. These events are a nice way to see how someone’s dream became real with the help of his faith and God.
Throughout all of my conversations with the people that knew Rev. Koning, I felt it was only through his faith that Ridgecrest Village was formed. Through many others, it continues to thrive with its Christian values.
Give Mary or Karen a call at 563-391-3430, and come see what we are talking about for yourself. You will be glad you did!
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