A visit to Faith Community
By Matt Echelberry
Several public meetings have been held recently in regards to Eden Place, a proposed senior independent living facility to be constructed in the vacant lot where the old Galion High School formerly stood. The NOAH Project is the organization raising the proposal. It is also responsible for the creation of Crestline’s Faith Community; In order to better understand what Eden Place would be like, the Inquirer stopped by Faith Community.
Located at 1020 Oldfield Road, Faith Community is a stone’s throw away from Crestline Exempted Village Schools. When it comes into view, the signs and aesthetics of the area are welcoming and beautiful. The park-like setting of Faith Community contains a half mile of sidewalk altogether that pass the homes, which are similar to condos.
A total of 41 two-bedroom units with an attached garage compose the neighborhood. On the outside, they are all architecturally the same, but that does not mean this neighborhood is without personality. It has streets with names like “Dove Lane” and “Blue Bird Drive.” There is even a community garden and a picnic area for all residents to enjoy.
At the Community Center, which sits at the entrance to the community, NOAH Executive Director Su Rowles discussed what makes Faith Community so special. The units are available to any seniors who wish to live independently, even if they have some disabilities. Rowles explained that a lot of planning went into the design of the homes to make them senior-friendly.
All of the units have doorways, hallways, etc. large enough so that people with walkers or wheelchairs can move through the home easily. The large bathrooms come equipped with grip bars and walk-in showers; the type of carpeting used in the homes makes it easy for wheelchairs to move over, yet a special pad underneath absorbs some of the shock if someone should fall; soft lighting does not effect people with vision problems; and electrical plugs are situated higher on walls.
“This is a completely livable community that allows people to be active or keep to themselves, whichever they prefer,” Rowles commented. “It is affordable, and you have neighbors to depend on, and other resources.”
Each resident at Faith Community is permitted to have a private garden and keep pets. Potlucks are held at the Community Center every Tuesday and Wednesday, and Fridays are game nights. Additionally, there are exercise programs provided and seminars on topics like health and personal finance.
But don’t take Rowles’ word for it. Marilyn Lucas was one of the first residents to settle into the neighborhood when it opened in 2008. “We really like it here, this is a wonderful place…Most of the residents do call it home,” Lucas said. She said she likes having an opportunity to socialize with the neighbors and living close to town.
The heart of Crestline is mere minutes away, and Bucyrus and Galion are within miles. The Crawford County Council on Aging provides transportation to residents, and Rowles called the drivers “marvelous.”
When asked how Faith Community became a reality, Rowles explained that the process was not easy. Early on, a group of people got together and shared their thoughts on their living situations at that time. This group decided Crawford County needed a place for seniors who wanted to live independently, that better suited their needs.
One year later, The NOAH Project became a tax exempt organization with the state. Members studied the county extensively to assess the needs of seniors and found that Crestline had the lowest opportunities for them, yet 14 percent of the village’s population was 65 or older. They also visited several other senior facilities and communities.
By accident, Rowles said they came across some land on the outskirts of Crestline that the owner was interested in selling. NOAH met with the County Commissioners, the Regional Planning Commission and held several public meetings to build support. Rowles recalled all of the fundraisers that were needed to raise money for the project, and all of the individuals that helped with getting the project going.
NOAH acquired the land in 2003 and the application for a new senior community was submitted in March of 2006. After they were approved for state funding, a groundbreaking for the development was held in 2008. The multi-million dollar project was completed later that year.
Linda Toney has been a resident for more than a year. She recalled going to a garage sale in the neighborhood and getting a tour of one of the homes. She decided that day that she wanted to call Faith Community her home as well. “I love it here. It’s nice and quiet,” she commented.
Faith Community is incorporated into the Village of Crestline and pays property taxes. Miller-Valentine Group is the management company of the development and takes care of all maintenance: lawn mowing, snow shoveling, general building maintenance, etc.
With Eden Place, the proposed project for Galion, Rowles explained that it would be operated on the same principles as Faith Community. However, she emphasized that Eden is a different type of community because it is an apartment-style complex for seniors.
The NOAH Project has held so many meetings about it lately because they want to know what people are looking for in a place to live and what their needs are, as well as what neighbors of the community think of it.
If the project receives a green light to move forward, it would be managed a different management company, Showe Management. Like Faith Community, it would be subject to property taxes, thus bringing revenue to Galion and Galion City Schools.
Rowles said Eden Place is designed to be step-free. Because it will have elevators, she said the building will be fitted with an emergency power system. The heating and cooling controls are individualized by room. Also, they are hoping to include an exercise room and a community room to the facility, but it depends on the funding for the project.
She added that at Faith Community, the majority of residents are not from Crestline, but have moved there from other parts of the county or other areas entirely, adding to the population. She said the same could happen with the Galion facility.
The NOAH Project is a non-profit, community housing development organization. Because of its non-profit status, Rowles said it depends on donations. The applications and accompanying studies for Eden Place and other projects are expensive—thousands of dollars—so finding funds to operate is difficult, yet NOAH is required to develop community improvement projects each year.
People with further questions about the organization or Eden Place may contact The NOAH Project at 419–683-3700 or visit www.noahprojectofohio.org.