Campaign a community success
By KALEY CONNER
La CROSSE -- The dream of bringing an assisted-living facility to Rush County is getting closer to reality.
Project organizers launched a "Crossroads for Care" capital campaign last summer with the goal of raising $750,000 to offset costs. By the end of 2012, more than $600,000 had been raised.
"We're just thrilled with our community's response to our campaign and will continue our efforts to finish up that last $150K," said Charlotte Rathke, administrator of Locust Grove Village.
The facility, previously known as Rush County Nursing Home, hopes to begin construction of a 14-unit assisted living facility and new administrative space by April. The privately owned, not-for-profit organization is planning to fund the remaining $1.4 million of an approximately $2.1 million project.
The need for assisted living is obvious in Rush County. Some seniors have had to leave their hometown to find care. Others moved into the nursing home before they needed that high level of service, meaning the family had to foot an unnecessarily high medical bill, she said.
Maintaining the nursing home, and adding assisted living, also is a benefit for the local economy. It's expected the new facility will generate approximately four jobs.
"We feel it's important for our communities because it keeps our people in our communities and in our hometowns," Rathke said. "It keeps families together."
The need for senior care is expected to keep growing. Census predictions indicate the number of people age 70 and older in Rush County will increase by 33 percent by 2035.
"Our community is an aging community, of course, like many of the rural areas here," said Larry Collins, who is one of four people heading the capital campaign committee. "We just need a facility that's somewhere between apartments and a nursing home. It should help the people here."
Seniors often choose assisted-living care when they are able to maintain some independence, but need help with certain daily tasks, such as taking medications.
The capital campaign will continue. Organizers are applying for grants and hoping supporters will rally for one last push to help the facility meet its fundraising goal.
Various types of gifts are accepted, such as grain, appreciated stock or estate giving. For those wanting to make a cash donation, an online payment tool is available at www.rcnh.org.
Rathke said organizers are pleased with the level of support and enthusiasm throughout the campaign. Donations are coming from far and wide, as many people with ties to Rush County or the facility have stepped up.
"It's been very gratifying to have people who, because of the service of Rush County Nursing Home ... are saying, 'We want to support the continuation of this business and this organization within our community,' " Rathke said. "I think, too, there's that rural pride in how do we sustain our rural communities? And this is another way."