JOPLIN, Mo. —
They often live alone in a rental home and survive on a Social Security check that averages $800 a month. With limited income, some of these seniors must choose between food and prescription drugs each month. Few have children to help them.
It’s a bleak picture that’s only going to get worse as the baby boomer generation and its 80 million members age. By 2015, it is predicted, there will be more seniors in the United States than children.
But a group of area residents, inspired by examples of successful senior housing in Scandinavia, have come up with a new approach for Joplin, creating a community of seniors who live, work and enjoy life together. It’s being called Oasis Village.
“We are passionate about this project,’’ said Dick Weber, a Joplin resident who is spearheading the financial campaign to make the village happen on 10 acres of property that has been acquired south of McClelland Park.
He’s working with David Heltzel, another Joplin resident, to convince community leaders that this model is a better way to care for part of the area’s aging population.
“This has never been done before. It would be another first for Joplin,’’ said Weber. “It’s a business model that we think will be easy to replicate. People would come to Joplin to see how it is done and how it works.’’
Unlike a retirement community, Heltzel said, Oasis Village will be funded by the work of the 40 to 60 seniors residents who live there. They must commit to 20 hours of work per week. That will allow each resident to retain individual financial resources, including Social Security, while allowing the village to operate with no government support.
Stephanie Brady, an administrative consultant and former board member for the project, said some of the jobs would be in the village, such as landscaping, maintenance, cooking and office work. Other jobs could be created off-site.
The housing would consist of living units of 700 to 900 square feet each with a common house that would allow members of the village to have privacy in their cottage and as much community involvement as they desire outside their front door. A common house would provide for communal dining to lower food costs, and would emphasize the sharing of laundry facilities, a village van, a workshop, a greenhouse, vegetable gardens, an orchard and tools. The small living units would be designed to minimize utility costs. Residents would be responsible for their own auto expenses.
“Once the village is up and running with residents in their homes and working, no further outside funding would be needed,’’ Heltzel said.
Heltzel also said the concept, developed by Joplin businessman Jon Lowry, would provide purpose and dignity to low-income healthy seniors through a self-sustaining and socially active community.
“One of the things we are stressing is that no government money is involved in this,’’ said Weber.
“The people get to keep their Social Security. They earn their cottage and a couple of meals a day by working 20 hours a week,’’ he added. “The village gets that income. Once it is complete, it will sustain itself.’’
The concept includes two paid employees — an on-site resident manager and executive director who reports to the Oasis board of directors.
Fundraising to build the cottages, designed by the Joplin-based architect firm of Hunter and Millard, has started. The needed capital is projected at $2.13 million, the men said.
Private, corporate and nonprofit donations that are tax-deductible are being sought to fund the starting and building phases. In-kind assistance will include furniture, power tools, appliances, kitchen utensils and construction materials.
“We will be contacting companies and individuals who would like to build a cottage in memory of a family member or have their company’s name on it,’’ said Weber.
Construction is targeted to begin before the end of the year.
“This is a locals-helping-locals project,” Heltzel said. “The residents who live there will have pride of ownership, and work to sustain the village, themselves and their neighbors.’’
More about Oasis Village
The Oasis Village Board of Directors is: Scott Clayton, Joplin Area Habitat for Humanity; Kathy Lewis, Crossline Churches of Joplin; Jon Lowry, Oasis founder; and Rob O’Brian, Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce. The group also has an advisory board: Richele Babbitt, Freeman Center for Geriatric Medicine; Loretta Bailey, Allstate Insurance; Alden Buerge, First National Bank of Clinton; Jim Hardy, Hardy, Wrestler and Associates; Stan Heater, Area Agency on Aging; Elliott Hunter, Hunter and Millard Architects; Jack Lowry, small business consultant; Richard B. Miller, Missouri Southern State University; Dan Stanley, Edward Jones; and Renee White, Joplin School District.
JOPLIN, Mo. —
- Top Stories
Nelson Mandela, 20th century colossus, dies at 95
Nelson Mandela, who became one of the world’s most beloved statesmen and a colossus of the 20th century when he emerged from 27 years in prison to negotiate an end to white minority rule in South Africa, has died. He was 95.
Irving pupils dazzled by room sizes, colors in new school building
Ask 9-year-old Logan Foglesong what he likes about the new Irving Elementary School, and he’ll tell you he loves its size. “You might need a GPS for it,” he said. “It has so much stuff. I love the classrooms, and it’s just so big.”
Manager of Carthage apartment complexes draws prison term
A Carthage woman was sentenced Thursday to three years and five months in a federal prison for fraudulent schemes involving four apartment complexes she managed.
UPDATED CANCELLATIONS: Organizations postpone parades, events in advance of expected winter storm
With a cold front forecast to the Four State Area that is accompanied by freezing rain, snow and sleet and temperatures in the single digits, several cities have rescheduled Christmas parades and are canceling or postponing community events.
Winter storm pushes Gov. Nixon to activate emergency operations center
Gov. Jay Nixon today activated the State Emergency Operations Center for 24-hour a day operations in response to a winter storm system that threatens to bring freezing rain, sleet, snow and ice to much of Missouri.
Local runners question decision to end marathon
Runners and others involved with the Mother Road Marathon don’t want the event to end despite Monday’s decision by the Joplin City Council. A council majority, citing costs of the event and declining participation, voted to discontinue funding for the marathon crossing three states on Route 66.
Kansas attorney general mulls seeking death penalty for four killings
No decision has been made on whether to seek the death penalty for a 22-year-old man charged with capital murder in the deaths of a woman and her three children, an assistant attorney general said Wednesday after a court hearing.
Senate passes tax incentives for Boeing
Missouri’s enticement package for a new Boeing assembly plant cleared its most daunting obstacle Wednesday as state senators passed a plan that could offer up to $1.7 billion of incentives over two decades.
St. Mary’s church, school awarded $300,000 grant from foundation
St. Mary’s Catholic Church and its elementary school, which were destroyed in the 2011 tornado, have received a $300,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Southwest Missouri.
St. Mary’s church, school awarded $300,000 grant from Community Foundation
St. Mary’s Catholic Church and its elementary school have received another substantial boost in their efforts to rebuild after the May 2011 tornado: a $300,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Southwest Missouri.
- More Top Stories Headlines
- Nelson Mandela, 20th century colossus, dies at 95