Small Business Spotlight: Colwich assisted-living facility gives seniors a hometown feel

04/30/2014 4:47 PM

08/08/2014 5:57 PM

When seniors in this town complained about a lack of places to live, a group of residents decided to take matters into their own hands.

The result is Colwich Gardens, a 17-unit assisted-living facility with what the owners call “a hometown feel.”

“What we found was not only did they want this, they needed this,” said Ann Allaire, one of five partners in the facility. “They really wanted a facility where they wouldn’t have to leave their small community, their church.”

Allaire said the partners based the facility’s design and operations on input from seniors who could become residents.

“It has a living room and open kitchen, just like walking into somebody’s home,” with apartments surrounding the commons area, she said.

As for food, she said, “The meals that we make are very hometown. We went into our cookbooks and our recipe books and got the menus and the meals that we serve.”

“It was really important to us that if a resident got up one morning and said they’re craving a cookie, we would bake them, or they could come in the kitchen and help bake them.”

Allaire said the facility took about 18 months to complete. The other partners are Andy Buessing, Tony Brand, Shawn Ketzner and Rhonda Horsch.

Allaire credited Buessing, who works for Hutton Construction, with coming up with the idea of a facility. Allaire, Brand and Ketzner own Vision Homes, which built Colwich Gardens. They turned to Horsch, who is a nurse, for help in getting the operational aspects of the home ready.

“She’s the one who knew how to go about staffing and getting all those things ready,” Buessing said.

All the partners are friends or relatives who live in or near Colwich. The director of nursing, Jane Schauf, is Horsch’s sister-in-law.

As of this week, eight women and five men ranging in age from 75 to 93 were living in the home, which employs 16 people. Allaire expects the other apartments to be filled before long.

“Everybody knows everybody’s name,” she said of the staff. “Not only do they know all the residents’ names, but they also know all the residents’ families. It’s just a real hometown feel.”

The facility has studio, single- and two-bedroom apartments. It sits on an acre of land, giving the partners space to build more apartments if demand increases, Allaire said. For now, a vegetable garden is taking up some of the space. The home is on Colwich’s main street, between a popular restaurant and ballfields.

The owners say they expect to make money from their endeavor, but the idea of helping their older neighbors stay put is part of the payoff.

“It’s neat to see cars up there,” Buessing said. “That means people are stopping in to see their parents, their grandparents. We think it’s bringing people to Colwich.”

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