Tri-Village News

First Community gives back for golden anniversary

Village marks its 50th year with donations, service projects

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First Community Village will celebrate its 50th anniversary this year with a recommitment to its role in the Tri-Village community.

The continuing care community will base its celebration on the concept of "reverse benevolence," said Char Christensen, life enrichment director at First Community.

"We're giving back to the community because the community has given so much to us," she said.

First Community Village will make financial donations to the Grandview and Upper Arlington libraries and to several charities supported by First Community Church, including Camp Akita and Heart to Heart, Christensen said.

As a kickoff to the anniversary celebration, First Community Village staff members volunteered their time in June to help spruce up the yard and property of a family in Upper Arlington selected by the city's parks and recreation department, said Bobbi Riddle, an administrative assistant in the village's health-care center.

"We planted, mulched and did all kinds of things to help spruce up their yard," she said. "It was the first time our staff members had volunteered for such a community project. We enjoyed it so much, I'm sure we'll do similar projects in the future."

Christensen and Riddle both are members of the committee that has planned this year's anniversary celebration.

For the first time in many years, the village had a float in Upper Arlington's Fourth of July parade, with both residents and staff members riding or walking, Riddle said.

The wedding-cake float earned a plaque as the "most patriotic" entry in the parade, she said.

The celebration will culminate with a private event Sept. 8.

Residents, their families, village staff and community leaders will be invited to the event, which will be "an upscale, outdoor-patio picnic," Christensen said.

"We will have speakers, live music, a catered meal and family and children's activities," she said.

Those who attend will receive a commemorative booklet and DVD, Riddle said. The DVD will spotlight 10 residents, staff members or community leaders who have a multigenerational connection to the village.

"There are a lot of people who have three generations of family members who have lived in the village or residents who have their grandchildren come and spend a lot of time here visiting or volunteering," she said.

First Community Village opened Feb. 1, 1963, as a project of First Community Church.

In 1986, the village opened its new $5 million health-care center and became one of the first four U.S. continuing-care facilities to earn accreditation from the Continuing Care Commission.

"One of the most important goals that First Community's staff have always had is to provide first-class care and service to our residents," Christensen said.

In 1994, Hillside House became the Roy A. Burkhart Center with a $2.7 million renovation of assisted-living facilities.

The village became an independently operating nonprofit entity in 2001, and later that decade, the Chelsea, a new Burkhart Center and the Roxbury Cottages were built.

The village has had some financial ups and downs in recent years, but in 2009, National Church Residences became its managing organization and later took over ownership.

"National Church Residences was just the right organization with their technology and experience to help guide First Community Village for the next 50 years," Christensen said.

In its anniversary year, First Community has 375 residents, and the village has more than 300 staff members, she said.

Construction of 38 new manor homes is expected to be completed and with units ready for occupancy in October, Christensen said.

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