Senior Housing -- Dream Of A Decade Becomes Reality


Ten years ago, Nina Rockstrom and Vera DeBruler asked then District Superintendent for the Nazarene Church, Dr. Bill Burch, why the church did not have senior housing projects any further west than Bethany, Okla.

"He said it wasn't part of the church's plans at the time, but told us, ‘Ladies, go for it. Get someone to build it for you,'" Rockstrom said, explaining how the journey began.


Vera DeBruler, left, and Nina Rockstrom, right, review the floor plan of one the Good Samaritan Society senior apartments with Pastor David Runyon of the First Nazarene Church. The women hope to rent a unit when the project is completed in the spring of 2005.

This effort led to The Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society to choose Payson for its newest campus in Arizona.

"Having something like this has been a vision of the church for a number of years," David Runyon, pastor for the First Church of the Nazarene of Payson. said. "It was always part of the process as we made plans for our new church."

While The Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society was invited to the community by the First Church of the Nazarene, and its facility will be neighboring the church on East Tyler Parkway, the two are separate entities, said Lori Nicholson, sales and marketing consultant for the society.

The senior housing facility is for independent living, with 50 units planned for a two-story building on about five acres. There will be 16 one-bedroom units; 26 two-bedroom units; and eight two-bedroom units with dens, with a variety of floor plans.

"We have one-bedrooms with 652 square feet; two-bedroom units that range from 931 to 966 square feet; and two-bedroom with den units with 1,083 to 1,266 square feet," said Greg Amble, division director for project development for the Good Samaritan Society.

While the facility is for seniors who still enjoy independent living, a number of services will also be provided, Nicholson said.

"We will have one congregate meal a day, light housekeeping, coordinated transportation and a non-denominational chapel," Nicholson said. "There will be controlled-access entry for security, an emergency response system, fire detection and sprinklers. All maintenance of the

grounds and building will be provided. All major appliances will be furnished and we will pay the utility bills."

She said there also will be a wellness room with exercise equipment and a spa with a Jacuzzi. There will be 14 carports and 14 garages included in the project, with the balance of the parking uncovered.

Nicholson said the apartments will be on a first-come, first-served basis and be rented month-to-month.

Good Samaritan Society representatives will be in the area again March 15 to meet with interested seniors, the time and place for the meeting will be announced later.

Representatives from the First Church of the Nazarene, Rockstrom, DeBruler, along with Runyon and Shirley and Paul Hill, have been working with the Good Samaritan Society people for a number of years.

Rockstrom, DeBruler and the Hills investigated a large number of senior housing facilities all around the country before recommending making contact with the Good Samaritan Society, Rockstrom said.

The society representatives met with focus groups in Payson during 2003, Nicholson said.

"We always do that and then try to design a facility to meet the needs of the community," she said. "The Payson campus is something entirely different than anything we've done."

The Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society is the largest not-for-profit long term care company in the country, Nicholson said. "Our mission is to share God's love in word and deed," she said.

The company builds all levels of senior housing facilities, from skilled nursing units to independent housing, such as planned for Payson. It has five facilities in Arizona: Prescott, Prescott Valley, Peoria, Mesa and Benson, with about 1,000 residents. The company is in 25 states around the country, serving between 25,000 and 26,000 clients.

"We've found (the Good Samaritan Society) were real solid, well organized, well financed and very experienced," Runyon said. "They have a tremendous track record."

The land where the senior housing is being built was sold to the society by the First Nazarene Church for what the congregation paid for it years ago, the minister said.

"They will be investing several million dollars in the community," Rockstrom said.

The facility also will create about a half-a-dozen jobs including that of a facility manager, plus posts to handle the maintenance, housekeeping and kitchen duties.

Groundbreaking for the facility is scheduled for July, with the opening expected in late spring 2005, Nicholson said.

For more information, call (928) 445-3416.

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