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Reaching out to a community.

From its earliest beginnings, Mayflower Homes has enjoyed a symbiotic relationship with its home city, Grinnell, Iowa. Mayflower is a CCRC that also provides management services for rent-subsidized housing. In 1948, the headquarters of the Iowa Conference, United Church of Christ was based in Grinnell. The Conference minister, Dr. Royal J. Montgomery, and his wife Margaret made their home there. The Montgomerys sold their home, and the proceeds were given to the Iowa Conference as seed money for apartment housing to be built in Grinnell for retired Congregational ministers, ministerial couples, clergy widows, and missionaries. When the organization was incorporated in 1950, Dr. Montgomery chose the name Mayflower Home--updated to Mayflower Homes after expansion--most likely because the first Congregationalists in America, the Pilgrims, found shelter and sanctuary on the ship Mayflower.


A tract of land near downtown and the city park was donated and became the site of Mayflower's first apartment building, which was completed in 1953. Named Montgomery Hall, this was the first retirement housing in Iowa to provide a complete kitchen in each apartment. Many of the first 15 residents, comprising four clergy couples, two widows of clergy, and five laywomen, all Congregationalists, were not Grinnellians. They lived within a five-minute walk to stores, banks, and the Congregational church, bringing increased business and presence to these institutions. As more buildings were added in 1955 and 1959, residents from other church backgrounds began moving to Mayflower and enjoyed the close proximity to their churches, as well.

As Mayflower continued to grow, adding new residents to the city, the residents began to reach out into the community in a more proactive way. In 1971, well before any federally subsidized or federally managed programs were in place, Mayflower residents organized a mobile meals program to meet the nutritional needs of elderly members of the community who were largely confined to their homes. The meals were cooked in the Mayflower kitchen and then were delivered by Mayflower residents. The meal recipients paid what they could afford, and the shortfall was made up by Mayflower.

Also in the early 1970s, Mayflower began work on creating affordable housing for Grinnell's lower-income senior population. Mayflower's administration undertook the formidable task of handling all the paperwork involved in securing subsidized housing through HUD and USDA Rural Development (formerly Farmers Home Administration). Over a seven-year period, four projects were completed, providing rent-subsidized housing to approximately 125 people in 114 apartments. Mayflower continues to manage these projects and provides staff to handle maintenance, yard care, and snow removal. Sharon Mathis, Mayflower's housing manager, oversees the operations of these housing developments.


During that same period, a group of Grinnell citizens formed a steering committee to explore the development of a community-based nonprofit adult day care program for the city. At that time, several known frail adults were being cared for in their own homes by family members. The caregivers needed a program that would allow dependent adults to be left for a few hours while their caregivers ran errands or rested. Mayflower had space in the showroom of a former lumberyard close to downtown and provided the start-up funds. Mayflower maintenance staff converted the display area into a multiroom suite where the needs of several residents could be met at the same time--some sleeping, some doing crafts, and some simply content to sit and watch the activity around them. The display area was large enough to also provide space for the development of an infant day care center.


This space, although initially adequate, eventually became too small for the program. When the lumberyard was demolished to provide room for the construction of more town houses for Mayflower residents, the adult day care site was moved to the main campus in what had been Mayflower's healthcare center. The adult day care center remained there until early 1996, when Mayflower renovated the space into Grinnell's first assisted living program.

In the late 1980s, Mayflower initiated work to develop low-rent housing for individuals with chronic mental illness. Mayflower provided seed money and the leadership in raising more than $100,000 for the nine-apartment complex, which was the first of its kind in Iowa. The building is large enough to accommodate a drop-in day center known as the Station Clubhouse, where members can come for counseling, work opportunities, fellowship, and a home-cooked meal. Nine years later, HUD awarded a grant for the construction of a second project of eight apartments. Mayflower again provided time and talent to complete all the necessary paperwork. Mayflower also manages these two housing entities.

Mayflower residents have continued reaching out to the community. For example, the Senior Chamber of Commerce in Grinnell was created largely through the efforts of several Mayflower residents. This senior division of the local Chamber continues to meet monthly at Mayflower and spearheads a variety of civic events, including an annual spring cleanup.

Mayflower developed its own recycling program several years before the city of Grinnell adopted its present program, and several Mayflower residents served on the task force created to study and implement the citywide program.

For more than 20 years, Mayflower has hosted an appreciation dinner for Grinnell's fire and police departments. Jack Morrison, director of plant operations, sees this "as an excellent opportunity to get these guys and gals on site so they have a better understanding of our needs and where our fire-detection systems are located." After the meal, which is shared by the guests and Mayflower staff, a cash gift is presented to each chief. The event is well attended, and chili and sour cream raisin pie are always on the menu. During a recent campaign to raise funds for a new fire truck, Mayflower made a substantial donation.

When Mayflower began planning for its new 60-bed health center, it acquired properties across the street east of its campus. The best house on the properties was donated to the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity, and the house was moved to an off-campus location. A Mayflower resident is also overseeing the construction of another Habitat house off-campus, with several other residents lending a helping hand.

Groundbreaking for the new healthcare center was held in early 1992. Mayflower had outgrown the 26-bed care center that was built in 1971 and consequently was unable to house healthcare services for Grinnellians who were not Mayflower residents. "The new health center has more than enough beds to meet the campus needs," says Deb Malloy, director of nursing, "so we have been able to admit many individuals from the community. Currently, 40% of the beds are filled with community residents."

Grinnell Regional Medical Center has also been a recipient of capital campaign donations from Mayflower. Mayflower residents are active in various volunteer roles at the medical center and have made substantial individual contributions.

A week rarely goes by without some community-sponsored event being held at Mayflower. The social center and various lounges are made available at no cost to community organizations and clubs. The baby grand Yamaha in Mayflower's social center is frequently used for piano recitals held by local piano teachers' students and has served as the backdrop for numerous portraits of high school seniors. Grinnell College uses Mayflower's social center for recitals and concerts for the public. The social center has also been used for the famous Iowa political caucuses (held every four years), hosting such speakers as Elizabeth Dole and Honey Alexander (each stumping for her respective spouse, Bob Dole and Lamar Alexander), as well as forums by Iowa senators and representatives, candidate nights hosted by the Grinnell League of Women Voters, and various musical performances.



Food Service Director Scott Gruhn and Housekeeping Director Sharon Fleming are personally involved in many of these events, seeing that refreshments and accommodations are ready and that the area is spotlessly cleaned. Kellie McGriff, Mayflower's marketing director, sees these events "as opportunities to get the public into Mayflower so they can see for themselves what we have to offer."

In the past four years, extensive landscaping projects have turned the central courtyard of the main campus into a lush garden with two brooks, each fed by its own waterfall and wending its way under bridges and into ponds where large koi (a member of the carp family) live year-round. The babbling brooks create a tranquil setting for residents and community folk alike to relax and listen to the sound of the running water. Last summer, a couple from Grinnell was married in this lovely setting. The central campus was featured in the 2005 Grinnell Garden Club tour of ponds.

At its 2005 spring conference, the Iowa Association of Homes and Services for the Aging awarded Mayflower Homes its Public Trust Award. This award is presented to an individual or organization that has advanced public trust and confidence in aging services through public service, collaboration, media, or other efforts to educate consumers and help them make informed choices.


In accepting the award, Mayflower Executive Director Ted Mokricky thanked Mayflower residents, staff, and the boards of trustees and directors for their assistance in helping expand its ministry into the Grinnell-wide community, and he pledged to continue a tradition that has extended now for more than a half century.

For more information, contact Ed Poush, Associate Director of Mayflower Homes, at (641) 236-6151. To send your comments to the author and editors, e-mail

A collaboration of the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging and Nursing Homes/Long Term Care Management Not-for-Profit Report, appearing in every issue of Nursing Homes magazine, addresses issues of particular interest to long-term care's not-for-profit sector. It provides nonprofit aging service providers with an additional information resource. Topics have been identified in collaboration with the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging. Nursing Homes welcomes comments and suggestions for future coverage.
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Title Annotation:NOT-FOR-PROFIT report
Author:Poush, Ed
Publication:Nursing Homes
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2006
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