When you’ve been accommodating the Lutheran senior citizen community for several decades, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll see at least one big construction project in that time.
This was precisely the case for Lutheran Haven, a full-service retirement community in Oviedo, Fla., that has been serving the Lutheran community since 1948.
“We’ve been here for 70 years, so obviously we had some inventory that was a little bit outdated,” explained Linda Kirk, CEO of Lutheran Haven. “We really wanted to meet the needs of today’s seniors, so we took our very oldest housing in the community, demolished it, and we’re constructing brand-new housing in its place.”
It’s quite the project. Called “The Landings at Lutheran Haven,” the new independent living neighborhood in the center of the community will house 48 villa-style homes and a commons building. The monthly fee includes meals, utilities, housekeeping, a courtesy call system and concierge services while the commons building offers a wide variety of services: a spa, wellness clinic, library café, dining options and styling salon. Of the 87,000 sq. feet of new space, 10,000 of it is dedicated to community services for the residents of the Lutheran Haven community.
The project began in December 2017 and is scheduled for completion in November 2018.
“We’re 85 and have been living in Winter Park, Fla., for 29 years,” said Elizabeth Kemp, future resident at The Landings. “We were looking for a place that could be our forever home, and when we went there we felt it was beautiful and the people are so friendly and warm. We feel at home. We love that we can walk, jog or ride bikes because it is so open. It has everything we were looking for!”
An enduring partnership
When it came time to work out the financial side of this project, the board of trustees for Lutheran Haven —together with leadership—felt that Lutheran Church Extension Fund (LCEF) was the best option for funding the project. “LCEF provided us with the financing for our nursing home replacement in 2006,” recalled Kirk.
“It was a great opportunity to work with them at that time, so when considering options for financing this upcoming project it was an easy decision. It is wonderful to have LCEF as partners because they understand our mission and ministry, and they’re very responsive to our needs. For Lutheran Haven, it didn’t make any sense to go anywhere else for funding.”
The fondness for working together goes both ways, according to Larry Crume, vice president of National Lending for LCEF.
“Our history with Lutheran Haven goes back many years,” said Crume. “We have a solid relationship with the community. The management of Lutheran Haven has been fiscally responsible, and they absolutely maintain a solid Lutheran identity. Lutheran Haven has been blessed with an abundance of real estate, and their board and management had been seeking ways to best utilize that space. This is an excellent use of resources for Lutheran Haven.”
Above and beyond the mission
The partnership between LCEF and Lutheran Haven helps enhance the community’s ability to, according to Kirk, “provide a quality, Christ-centered haven of care for older adults.”
But the mission doesn’t stop there.
“On a larger scale,” said Crume, “developing this new housing at Lutheran Haven communicates to everyone that, whether in Oviedo or elsewhere, LCEF is ready and willing to be the ministry partner of organizations in general and senior living communities specifically that are associated with the LCMS. It is so critical that the ministry offers good, quality senior living options and continuing care – a project like this ultimately enhances the financial foundation for the whole organization. These projects help stabilize and enhance care.”
‘Lutheran to the core’
“Quality is an ever-changing pursuit,” noted Kirk, “and expectations change as we serve different generations. The one tenet that hasn’t changed is our desire to provide high-quality services in a way that honors our former church workers.”
The Lutheran Haven community has a population that consists of at least one-third former church workers, including pastors, teachers, directors of Christian education and musicians, to name a few. The community was originally founded for this purpose, and the dynamic of Lutheran Haven’s campus is definitely impacted by the presence and contribution of their resident retired church workers.
“We offer daily devotions that are all managed by volunteer speakers and pianists,” explained Kirk. “We have an especially close relationship with the neighboring St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, but our residents attend not only the church next door, but also others in the Central Florida area. It’s not unusual for one of our residents to be filling in on a Sunday morning at one of those local churches. Lutheran Haven doesn’t try to replace these churches by holding services on site and encourages residents to remain actively involved in their congregations. Still, our cadre of retired pastors do everything on campus from devotions to visiting residents in their homes.”
Crume believes that Lutheran Haven is quite the community to behold.
“To visit this campus … if you’re ever in the Orlando area, visit Lutheran Haven,” said Crume. “Talk about Lutheran to the core! There is a remarkable number of district presidents who’ve retired there as well. That says something.”
Whether it’s through construction projects meant to offer the very best living options to their residents or an unabashedly Lutheran dynamic, Lutheran Haven truly is on a mission to walk alongside seniors as they continue to live and grow in Christ. And that is one enduring mission that will never be outdated.
To learn more about Lutheran Haven, visit lutheranhaven.org.