Grosse Pointe FarmsJune 27, 2012
Newberry House to be renovated as new home for SOC
By K. Michelle Moran
C & G Staff Writer
GROSSE POINTE FARMS — Renovations aren’t slated to start until next month, but Services for Older Citizens wanted to introduce the community to what will be its new home behind Henry Ford Health Services-Cottage.
On June 23, SOC held an open house at the Newberry House, a former nurses’ residence for neighboring Cottage Hospital, located at the corner of Ridge and Muir. Dozens of local residents and SOC volunteers came to the event, during which tours of the historic building were given.
“It needs a lot of work, but it’s got a lot of potential,” said longtime SOC supporter Betty Ruud of Grosse Pointe Park. “It’s such a beautiful house.”
SOC volunteer coordinator Heidi Uhlig said they hope to start construction in July. The open house — which gave local residents a chance to see the building before its transformation — featured a raffle, carnival games for kids and complimentary ice cream, she said.
The project is expected to cost about $3 million, and at press time, SOC had already received almost $2 million in contributions from nearly 200 local residents. But they’re still feverishly fundraising to cover the cost of turning the building — with its many tiny rooms and outdated utilities — into a space that can accommodate SOC’s various programs, from tea and bingo to informational workshops to senior exercise to individual counseling.
Sue Davies, chair of the capital campaign and a former SOC board president, said they’ll soon be mailing a request for contributions out to the entire SOC coverage area — the Grosse Pointes and Harper Woods. There are still several room naming opportunities available for donors, and gifts of $2,500 and above can be pledged in monthly installments for up to five years.
On June 19, John and Marlene Boll celebrated their 58th wedding anniversary as the guests of honor at a construction kickoff party for SOC’s new building. The Bolls — who have naming rights to the building as the lead donors — announced plans to match donations dollar for dollar, up to $500,000, through the John A. and Marlene L. Boll Foundation Matching Gift Challenge. The Bolls are longtime SOC supporters, but this is their biggest gift ever, SOC Executive Director Sharon Maier said. She said they need support from the entire community on this project, and she hopes the donor challenge encourages others to give.
“It’s a good way to double your money,” Maier said.
The new building will enable SOC to increase the number of special events it hosts, but perhaps more importantly, Davies said they’ll finally have more private spaces where seniors can discuss issues of concern with social workers and other eldercare specialists.
“We are the only service organization that serves comprehensively,” Davies said. “Our mission is to help seniors live their lives independently and with dignity.”
Because of the age and condition of the structure, Davies said they need to install new plumbing, electrical and energy-efficient windows, along with an elevator and new roof.
The demand for SOC’s programs is projected to grow as the population ages. In 2005, the senior population was about 19 percent of the total in the Grosse Pointes and Harper Woods. By 2035, it’s expected to be 30 percent.
SOC volunteer Harry Burkey of Grosse Pointe Woods organized Texas hold ‘em poker tournaments for seniors about three years ago. The program has sparked more than just friendly competition.
“It’s become probably one of the best support groups at SOC,” Burkey said. “They sit down and chat, and get to know each other.”
Henry Ford Health System gave SOC the Newberry House. Formerly known as the Newberry Nurse’s Residence, the roughly 10,000-square-foot, three-story building was designed by well-known architect Raymond Carey, according to Cottage Hospital records. About 20 nurses lived there at one time, Davies said. The primary donor for the building was Helen Newberry Joy. Construction was completed in 1930, and a grand opening took place June 10, 1930.
The former Cottage Hospital became part of Henry Ford Health System in 2007. Last fall, American House Senior Living Communities and the Southfield-based real estate development firm REDICO announced plans to turn the second and third floors of Cottage into roughly 50 apartments for seniors in need of varying levels of medical care. SOC took up temporary residence inside Cottage after the Neighborhood Club closed last year to make way for a new building. The forthcoming senior apartments and the proximity to SOC programs and services make for “a perfect fit,” said Pat Leczner, a public relations specialist for Henry Ford Medical Center-Cottage. She said Henry Ford Health System’s partnership with SOC “will get stronger” with this new building, which is one of the reasons the health care provider has been such a staunch supporter of the effort.
SOC volunteer Phyllis Johnson of Harper Woods was one of many who said she was thrilled about the new building.
“I can’t wait until it gets done,” she said.
If all goes as planned, Davies said, they hope to move into the new building by March or April of 2013.
“We’re so excited,” Maier said.
For more information about the project or donation opportunities, visit http://socservices.org or call (313) 882-9600.
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