Transforming Senior Living in a Small Town

“In  every  town there’s a  group  of  people  who  want  to  see  the  town made better,”  says Blair Minton. He’s  referencing  his  fellow  board  members  of  the nonprofit  Fox  Meadows  NFP.  A  small  group  from a small  town,  the  six  of them  are passionate about their community, and they’re dedicating themselves to improving it.

Thanks  to  the  board’s  efforts,  Holland  Construction Services recently broke ground on the  Fox  Meadows  Senior  Independent  Living acility.  The  30‐unit  complex  aims  to  provide  high‐quality,  affordable  independent  living  residences  to  lower‐income elderly people in the area. Up until this point, they’ve had few options beyond low rent trailers, many of which are in disrepair.

Holland  will  build  the  new  development  on  the  site  of  the  former  McLeansboro  High  School,  which  was  abandoned  when a new  school was completed about a decade  ago. It’s  a  site  that  the  members  of  the  Fox Meadows NFP board are quite familiar with. All six of them graduated from that high school, and none approved of the dilapidated condition it was in after years of disuse. “It’s a half a block off the county square. Anybody driving  in  and  out  of  McLeansboro  could  see  the  building  and  see  how  deteriorated  it  was.  What  a  horrible  eyesore it was.”

As Blair will tell you, the NFP is “a labor of love for every member of the board,” all of whom have deep roots in McLeansboro.  Dr. Don Mitchell has been a physician in the town long enough to have treated Blair when he was a child – and Blair is now 66.  Dick Dietz has been the city’s mayor for 24 years. Brad Cross owns a local electrical company. All six have been a part  of the McLeansboro community  for  decades.  Many  of  them  are  seniors  themselves, so focusing their efforts on improving the lives of other seniors in the area feels especially relevant to them.

The  original inspiration for their nonprofit came  from Blair Minton,  a  registered  nurse  who  in  1998  started  developing and operating senior living facilities.  Blair’s father, Bernard Minton, practiced law in McLeansboro for 51 years until his retirement at age 88. His dying wish was for Blair to do something to help the people of the town that Bernard loved so much.

Out of that wish, the Fox Meadows NFP was born

In 2006, the board selected Holland as their construction partner and began their first project with funding they secured primarily from the St. Louis Equity Fund. That project, Heritage Woods of McLeansboro, is a beautiful 42‐unit  senior  living  facility  that  has  brought  an  affordable  assisted  living  alternative  to  the  McLeansboro  community.

“This is a labor of love for everyone on the board.”

Fox Meadows NFP took money generated from Heritage Woods, along with tax credits provided by the Illinois Housing  Development  Authority,  $5.6  million  in  private  equity  from  Peoples  National Bank, and a generous  grant  from  Ameren,  and  recycled  it  back  into  the  community  by  building  the  new  Fox  Meadows  Senior Independent Living Community.

For  this project Fox  Meadows NFP has again partnered with  Holland,  Worn  Jerabeck  Wiltse  Architects,  and  Shawnee  Professional  Services  for  the  design  and  construction  of  the  facility.   “It’s something special to  be involved in a project like this that means so much to the people involved, and to work with an owner that is this passionate about what they are doing to give back to their community,” said Jeremy Maddox, Vice President at Holland.

As Dr. Mitchell  points out,  many of  the  seniors  in the area  are  widowers,  and  the  complex  will  provide  its  residents  with  more  natural  opportunities  to  socialize  than  they  may  currently  be  experiencing.  And  with  its central location walking distance to many of McLeansboro’s restaurants and shops, it will give its residents easy access to food and entertainment, in addition to providing economic benefits to those local businesses.

In essence, these six individuals have set out to replace an unused eyesore in their community with something that will provide homes for the less fortunate and help the neighborhood as a whole thrive. And even as the ground  breaks  on  the  complex,  Fox  Meadows  NFP  is  setting  their  sights  on  their  next  potential  project  and  holding true to their goal of making lives better for the elderly of their town, and by extension everyone else who lives there.

It’s no secret that recent decades have seen many hardships befall small‐town America. Shrinking industry and expanding drug epidemics dominate the news. But in every little city, in every rural county, groups like the Fox Meadows NFP exist. They fight to maintain the honest joys of living there, and work to provide hope for their communities’ futures.

Holland Construction Services is a fullservice construction management, general contracting, and design/build firm based in Swansea, Illinois.

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