By Adam Strunk
When it came to adding on to the future for the Kidron Bethel campus, supporters and the community gave.
In all with grants Bluestem Communities, the organization that owns both the Kidron and Schowalter Villa retirement communities, raised $3.5 million dollars.
“We want to thank you for the dollars that came in to make this a reality,” Bluestem CEO James Krehbiel told the large crowd of residents, donors and supporters in attendance at a groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday.
The campaign is part of a $10.7 million capital improvement plan years in the making for enhancements on the campus.
The plan includes expanded chapel and community space, a modern entry with reception area, outdoor patio and courtyards, an indoor/outdoor walking loop, remodeled health care rooms, enhanced dementia care services and environmental initiatives, such as solar power, native landscaping and electric charging stations.
It also includes a new education center that will help train nearby Bethel Students, named for long-time Kidron board member and booster, Kaye Penner.
Penner served on the Kidron Bethel Village and Bluestem Communities board of directors, serving as the first chairperson for the Bluestem board and she also was chair of the Kidron board.
“Kaye was an excellent leader and board member,” Krehbiel said of Penner in an earlier interview. “She cared deeply about the mission of the organizations that she served. She had a deep love for our community, the people she served as a nurse and nursing students at Bethel College, as a nursing professor and educator.”
It’s perhaps a fitting tribute to her life that Bethel nursing students will learn on the Kidron campus and interact with the community in a building with a name to recognize her legacy.
Bethel President Jon Gehring spoke at the groundbreaking noting that it will serve as a melting pot between the campuses.
Yvonne Sieber, chief philanthropy officer for Bluestem communities also spoke of Penner’s contributions.
“(Husband) Virgil commented that Kay loved everything that she was doing,” Sieber said. “We thank God for your life, Kay.”
Virgil Penner and his family were at the event to witness the naming announcement.
The entire process has been planned over the years following consultations with more than 250 individuals about what developments would best serve the retirement community in the future.
The fundraising process was helped by a $700,000 grant from the J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation in Tulsa, Okla.
Construction should begin mid to late October.