Oak Grove News

Oak Grove dedicates new Oak Street memory care

By Cheri Shelhart

DEMOTTE — Oak Grove Christian Retirement Village held an open house to dedicate its new memory care wing, named “Oak Street.” The new wing is nearly ready for people with dementia/Alzheimer’s Disease to come and reside. On Thursday evening, a dedication ceremony included a blessing by Chaplain Joe, a Catholic Deacon, who anointed the new wing with Holy Water. Wilbert Hamstra, founder of the Hamstra Group, spoke about his vision for a retirement home based on Christian values and built to be a comfortable residence to retire to, a place that was more than a nursing home.

Hamstra was inspired to find a way to build Oak Grove Village after placing his father in a nursing home. He wasn’t happy with the living conditions and wanted a better place closer to home for the people of DeMotte and the surrounding area to call home. He knew his church, First Church, had some property in town and he suggested the church donate it for a non-profit retirement village. Then he and eight others joined as a board to pursue funds for the project.

Hamstra said one man told him they’d never raise $1 million, much less the more than $3 million they would need to build his dream. He said the board members didn’t know anything about nursing homes, so they spent some time researching, traveling and learning and they decided they could do it.

They were able to raise $3.5 million. “If you believe in something, it’s easy,” he said. People in a Christian community are willing to give to help others live a good life, he continued. The first two years after opening were tough, he said. The found a new organization to manage the facility, Greencroft Communities, and it’s been successful since.

In 2019, Oak Grove celebrated its 20th year. Now in its 21st year, the retirement village will be able to house residents with memory issues. Hamstra explained that people who had been residents at Oak Grove for years had to move somewhere else if they developed Alzheimer’s or dementia after the State changed the regulations for memory care. Residents and families asked for a unit at Oak Grove so they wouldn’t have to leave.

Once again, the DeMotte community gave generously and they were able to raise the $5 million needed to build the new wing and include renovations to the rest of the building. Construction began last spring, and the unit just needs the final approval from the state to open its doors to the public.

The unit is self-contained and residents remain safe behind locked doors. The wing has its own dining area, activity room and a Snoezelin Room, a room designed to be restful and calming. There is also a spa room to help soothe the residents of the unit as well.

Article reprinted courtesy of Kankakee Valley Publishing.

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