John Harding, Scandia Villages's second president, said he is the 'Last of the Mohicans' as a remaining founder still alive to congratulate a crowd celebrating the 'Partners in Compassion' building campaign. Harding was on the ad hoc committee in the early 1970s that broke ground to build Scandia in Sister Bay. / Ramelle Bintz/Door County Advocate
The Rev. Delmar Dahl served as chaplain three times since he has been living in the Meadows Apartments at Scandia for 15 years. Dahl gave the closing prayer of thanks for raising almost $6 million in the 'Partners in Compassion' campaign. / Ramelle Bintz/Door County Advocate
Scandia Administrator Michele Notz claps as she passes the podium to Scandia's second president, John Harding, to address those gathered to celebrate the success of the 'Partners in Compassion' building campaign. Seated from left are Joy Zakrzewski, Scandia's chaplain; Susan Raper, director of operations of the Good Samaritan Society national campus; and Scandia resident Judy Bush. / Ramelle Bintz/Door County Advocate
Scandia Village reached a milestone Thursday, breaking ground for a new expansion to add to the complex in Sister Bay.
The shovels in the ground this week were just a spoonful compared to the real digging that began in spring 2012, when Scandia announced a $8 million capital campaign called “Partners in Compassion.”
Scandia Village provides multiple housing options for seniors, ranging from independent units to skilled nursing care in northern Door County. Scandia belongs to the national nonprofit Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society.
“I can’t believe all the enthusiasm and excitement today,” said Scandia Administrator Michele Notz as she addressed a crowd of about 400. “Today is a tribute and a testimony to what you have done.”
The community’s generosity has contributed more than $5.9 million to date, surpassing their phase 1 goal by enough that both the first and second phases of the project can move forward, Notz said.
“We’re getting there,” she said. “We still have a little less than $2 million left to raise.”
The three-step plan was to first reach a goal of $5.2 million to build 24 assisted-living units, moving residents out of cramped living quarters to spacious studio or one-bedroom apartments. The second step was to raise $1 million to remove an existing living area and transform it into short-term rehabilitation suites and private rooms so therapy could take place right next to private rooms.
The third and final phase is for a $1.8 million nursing care center rehabilitation, enlarging all the rooms to accommodate medical equipment and converting all of the rooms to be private. The rooms in the Birchwood wing, a home for residents with dementia, would remain shared.
The plans for the first phase are now being bid and costs and a builder should be known in about two weeks, Notz said. Work is expected to start this fall with hopes of moving residents to the new rooms a year from now, then rolling right into phase two.
Currently Scandia cares for patients who need short-term rehabilitation for things like hip replacements, but patients are housed with long-term residents in the skilled nursing home.
When phase two is finished, all rehab patients will have private rooms adjacent to a new therapy area that includes a cafe for residents, families and visitors. It will also be a place the community can use to receive massage therapy from Scandia’s full-time certified massage therapist, Notz said.
She said the phrase “Partners in Compassion” accurately describes the hard work and dedication of the many residents, businesses, staff, Scandia Auxiliary people and “founding family” members who have participated in the campaign.
One of Scandia’s early founders, John Harding, retold the difficulties the ad hoc group had to overcome to build Scandia in the 1970s.
Harding later became the second president of Scandia.
“I’m so proud of this place I could bust,” Harding said.
Nicki Scharrig, director of resource development, recognized Harding and other original committee members, saying, “You’re our heroes.” Her remarks were met with enthusiastic applause.
“They transformed that dream,” Scharrig said.
Those visionaries, volunteers, staff members, residents and their families remain the “eyes and ears” that help Scandia constantly improve to be recognized as a five-star facility, she said.
The Scandia Auxiliary, which runs the resale shop Bargains Unlimited, pledged $2 million to the campaign. Cheri Bock from the Auxiliary said $850,000 is already raised and the goal is to reach the first $1 million by the end of this year.
Scandia staff, who helped serve and bring residents to the groundbreaking, also received a round of applause after Scharrig pointed out many employees have chosen to make payments toward the capital fund out of payroll deductions. Residents also are large contributors, she said, and they are the reason for the “Partners in Compassion” campaign.
“I hope you know how much you are all loved,” she said.
Other speakers included Annette Erickson, the widow of George Erickson, Scandia’s first president. A former Gibraltar teacher who had both Notz and Scharrig as pupils, Erickson said living at Scandia is more like living with family than a facility.
“Everyone looks out for everyone else,” she said.
Asked what she thought her husband, George, would think of the new plans and the day’s events, Annette said, “He’d be absolutely thrilled.”
She quickly added, “I’m not so sure he wasn’t here.”
Contact Ramelle Bintz at email@example.com.