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'Welcome Home'

Unique Villas of Guerin Woods ready in G'town

May 28, 2008
It was only appropriate that the sky was blue and the sun was shining Thursday for the opening of The Villas of Guerin Woods in Georgetown. The facility will provide seniors age 62 and above living in the assisted living setting a bright future.

Following the ribbon-cutting ceremony, those touring The Villas of Guerin Woods, including Dan Cristiani, front right, who donated excavating work, enjoy a light lunch. (Photos by Chris Adams)
The two, 7,100-square-foot facilities both feature 10 223-square-foot private bedrooms, each with a full bathroom and closet, and an open floor plan, providing easy access to the large common area and kitchen.

"This is really unique because it's the only one in the state," Jim Leich, president of the Indiana Association of Homes and Services for the Aging Inc., said before the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Leich, whose organization, of which Guerin Woods is a member, assisted the project in various ways, was just one of the many officials from state agencies, as well as Floyd County and Georgetown, who joined other guests in what was deemed a "Welcome Home" celebration.

Sister Barbara Ann Zeller, S.P., president of Guerin Inc. and Providence Self Sufficiency Ministries Inc., kicked off the brief ceremony by thanking attendees for honoring seniors by helping make The Villas a reality.

"Together we have built the villas in homage to and out of respect for them," she said.

Zeller said she is pleased the facility will be "homelike," in that its physical layout and the services provided have been designed with residents in mind.

"Let us congratulate and thank each other for what, through the providence of God, we have helped to create," she said.

Sherry Seiwert, executive director of the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority, which provided the project $1 million in federal and state funds, told the crowd The Villas is "certainly a fine example of what we had in mind" when the agency made helping seniors one of its top goals.

Miss Indiana 1993 Dayna Ashley sings "Home" during the "Welcome Home" celebration in honor of the opening of The Villas of Guerin Woods Thursday.
Seiwert shared a letter from an 87-year-old who wrote about the need for the facilities and asked her to "please help fund this project."

Then, following Miss Indiana 1993 Dayna Ashley's rousing rendition of "Home" from the Broadway musical "The Wiz," future residents Mary Mangeot and Virginia Hornsby helped cut the ribbons to officially open each facility.

"God bless each of you," Zeller said, "and thank you for being here, but, most of all, thank you for walking this priceless journey with us."

The Villas, which are state-licensed and self-contained, are patterned after the "small house" concept, in that they constitute a person-centered culture. In all, nine such facilities are planned.

"It allows the individual more choice and freedom. It's not an institutional setting," Seiwert said during a tour of the facility, which included a light lunch.

For instance, if a resident wants a cup of coffee at 4 a.m., they can go to the kitchen and get one, she said. Plus, they can help in the kitchen and do their own laundry at the facility.

The homelike setting "provides dignity and respect to the residents that they often don't get in other settings," Seiwert said.

Dan Cristiani, whose excavating company donated work, said it was easy deciding to help.

"It's the thing to do, first of all," he said, explaining it was easy to see the value in such a facility. "I thought the concept was great."

Fees are expected to be competitive, and private pay, Medicaid and Medicare will all be accepted.

In addition to funding from the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority, the $2-million project was funded by donations and grants, including from the Caesars Foundation of Floyd County and The Paul W. Ogle Foundation Inc.

Guerin Inc., established in 1999 to build Providence House for Children in Georgetown, began developing Guerin Woods, an apartment project for senior citizens at the site, in 2004. It works with Providence Self Sufficiency Ministries Inc. to provide services at the children's house and the Guerin Senior Center.

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