Residents return after evacuating from fire st. francis, kan.
“Through this hardship, we have had the support of so many. We have seen the Lord work through all of them.” – Jeff Paulsen
Good Samaritan Society – St. Francis Village staff members welcome Owen Morrow and Bob Morrell, the first two residents to move back to the center after the fire.
By Cara DeCourcey, National Campus W
hen a fire heavily damaged the Good Samaritan Society
rehabilitation/skilled care center in St. Francis, Kan., displacing all 48 residents, the local community and people from Society locations across the country rallied to help. Now a half year after the fire, repairs have been made and residents are returning.
“We are pleased to reopen Good Samaritan Society – St. Francis Village to continue providing care and services for seniors in the St. Francis community,” says Jeff Paulsen, administrator at St. Francis Village. “Through this hardship, we have had the support of so many. We have seen the Lord work through all of them.”
After the Oct. 19, 2010, fire broke out, residents initially were evacuated
to the local high school gymnasium. There, community members and high school students helped care for them by bringing food and juice, and providing comfort during the difficult time. Later that day, residents were transferred to other Good Samaritan Society centers in the area, neighboring skilled care centers or back to their homes.
Many staff members were displaced by the fire, too. To help financially support the 63 staff members who could no longer work at the center, the Good Samaritan Foundation and Workforce Systems at the Society’s National Campus in Sioux Falls, S.D., collected contributions for a Staff Crisis Fund. The support from dozens of campuses and thousands of employees from across the Society strongly showed that the residents and staff members of St. Francis Village are deeply loved and highly valued, says Paulsen.
National Campus staff members also organized a spaghetti luncheon benefit. A freewill offering was taken for the meal, and all proceeds went to St. Francis Village staff members.
Assistance came in other forms, too. A work team at National Campus formed shortly after the fire to explore the center’s options and organize a plan for recovery. The recovery also involved people outside the Society, including local, state and federal fire officials and insurance representatives.
By early 2011, phase one of the building recovery process had been completed and included 22 units for residents, kitchen renovations, and new flooring, paint and communications systems. On March 14, the first residents returned. The second phase of the renovation will provide space for 35 residents.
“We have seen the Lord work through this unquestionably inconvenient situation,” Paulsen says. “And because of His love, we are able to hold on to joy despite our circumstance.”
10 The Good Samaritan • 2011 • Vol. 45 • No. 1
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