January 21, 2020 —Last month, members of the Kendal Legacy Circle of Friends were recognized at the second annual luncheon. November was a fitting time to express appreciation and gratitude for current and past donors, who have remembered Kendal at Oberlin in special and impacting ways.
Circle of Friends reflects what Kendal does by supporting its mission, to offer older adults a vibrant, diverse, caring community, encouraging individual lifestyles by promoting independence, continuous learning social relationships and excellence in health care. It is through the support of donors that much happens to enrich community life at Kendal.
During the program there was talk of the importance of building on past success for the future. Now beginning its twentieth year, Kendal has come far since that first shovel broke ground in 1992, and residents, staff and the greater community have benefited. In fact, during the gathering, several staff members were acknowledged for career advancements, made possible by the Stephens Education Fund, one of several funds that offer opportunities to support the on-going needs of the community. Kendal would not be what it is today without those individuals, who helped shape its vision at its inception and those who continue support for the vision of tomorrow. The financial impact has been immense.
A story about one Founding couple was shared by Barbara Thomas, Kendal at Oberlin CEO. Like many other residents, this couple shaped Kendal and left their imprint forever. Their combined years at Kendal were 23, and even though this couple is no longer here, their legacy lives on. Among some of the earliest individuals interested in Kendal, they corresponded and attending meetings regularly to learn more about the proposed community.
This couple even traveled to Longwood and Crosslands, the original Kendal communities in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, which increased their enthusiasm for this new community, which they described as “valuing all persons.” They continued correspondence with the Administration of Longwood, seeking “outside” fair and unbiased articles on Kendal community life. There were letters probing fees, tax saving for medical deductions, and a letter requesting a copy of Determination Statements by the IRS for Kendal at Longwood. Their research was meticulous!
Once an architect was chosen, for Kendal at Oberlin, the couple continued a steady stream of suggestions, questions, and research articles on appropriate design for adult housing, landscaping, and even thoughts on partnering with Oberlin College, Oberlin High School and Senior Center for stimulating community shared activities. Barbara said, “Many of the details contained in their letters of inquiry helped shape our physical designs and programs. This couple, among many, were our architects of a different sort. Their letters of reference paint a special couple who had friends of more than 35 years give testimony that they would thrive at this future Kendal. They had given selflessly of themselves to their community and church through their talents of music, good business heads, commitment to youth and activities likes scouts. They had high moral and ethical standards and were highly educated professionals who brought training in education and engineering who would have no trouble finding places to contribute if they moved to Kendal.” As residents the couple continued contributing to programming, the Kendal newsletter and volunteering in the local schools to name but a few.
The reason for the background on this couple is important to understand, as before they could live out 20 of their 23 years at Kendal, they made the decision to leave because they could no longer afford to stay. Barbara stated, “I think you can imagine our shared dismay that anyone would ever move out of Kendal after investing of themselves so fully in preparation to bring it into being. It would have been devastating to them and equally to us to have this happen. We take our promise for life care seriously.” Eventually they were persuaded to stay, but this would not have been possible without the Resident Assistance Fund, which provided a scholarship grant. The start of the fund in 1992 at Financing, and the flow of contributions, often memorial gifts, but also estate gifts and bequests, annuities and Trusts made this possible.
This real-life example tells the story of possibilities, and an opportunity to express appreciation and remember our heritage of generosity.