History of The Oaks

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Following study and research during 1994-1995, the Dunn County Advocacy Corporation (DCAC), a Wisconsin non-stock corporation directed by a volunteer board, began to pursue the goal of developing a senior independent living facility for low, moderate, and middle income citizens of Menomonie and Dunn County. Committed to addressing the needs of seniors in Dunn County, the DCAC determined that such a facility was the highest priority. The mission of this organization is to be an advocacy group for helping seniors in the community to be active, healthy, and contributing citizens. The DCAC, while wishing to support such a project, believed that the ownership and operation of the facility should be left to another entity.

In April of 1996, DCAC, a not-for-profit organization without 501(c)(3) status, signed a "Letter of Cooperative Intent" with Martin Luther Home Society, Inc. (MLHS), a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation from Lincoln, Nebraska. These two entities joined in a cooperative, independent, non-profit, and ecumenical endeavor to create the needed facility. Six sub-committees composed of local volunteers were formed to move the project forward. They were Site and Building, Public Relations/Marketing, Grant Writing and Fundraising, Financing, Program, and Furnishings and Decorating.

This partnership proved successful. A feasibility/utilization study was conducted; a site was selected; a name, logo, and tag line ("The Oaks--Senior Living.....Forever Young At Heart) were chosen; and an architect and engineer were hired for the project. A private, not-for-profit corporation with 501(c)(3) status named The Oaks of Dunn County, Inc. was established and local board members named. The organization secured financing, purchased land, and selected a contractor. MLHS furnished a staff liaison to work with community members utilizing its home office expertise, supplies and equipment- a mix of assistance totaling $64,000 in value. Funds were secured locally to reimburse MLHS's out-of-pocket expenses. Community resources also provided approximately $40,000 from a community development loan, foundation grants, donations, and in-kind support, for the initial start-up costs, i.e. preliminary development work and the studies necessary prior to building the complex.

Philosophy of Service

The mission of The Oaks project was and remains "the development and provision of a not-for-profit housing complex with supportive services and activities for a diverse group of seniors with varying incomes."
The Oaks is planned for seniors who value their independence and want an active lifestyle while being free from the responsibilities of home ownership and maintenance. The intent is to serve a diverse group of seniors with varying ethnic, religious, and educational backgrounds as well as with diverse income levels and special needs. Those residents with physical challenges and/or health problems have an environment geared toward limiting the impact of those needs on their daily life routine so that they may fully participate with their neighbors in activities. The Oaks community seeks to facilitate the continuing growth and camaraderie of all residents.

The Oaks is a place for seniors to enjoy retirement with an ongoing theme of wellness, good nutrition, and socialization. The main meal of the day, weekly light housekeeping, and routine resident-driven activities are included with living at The Oaks. Frequent social, cultural, educational, and recreational opportunities are also available. These are coordinated by a full-time manager who also arranges for additional individualized supports and coordinates referrals to other providers for any personal and health care needs.

Site

The Oaks, opened in June 1999, is conveniently located on a quiet, wooded, 17.5 acre parcel entered from 12th Avenue and bordered by 13th Street and 14th Avenue. The site is attractively landscaped and lighted and has sidewalks, walking trails, garden plots and a shed, raised garden beds, and a gazebo which promote outdoor wellness. Plans for a pavilion on a previous silo pad will add to the front yard. The location of The Oaks provides easy access to shopping and community services, while assuring privacy and the opportunity to enjoy and commune with nature.

The living complex has 36 apartments with 6 different floor plans varying in size from 625 to 1025 square feet. There are an additional 8,000 square feet in commons space and an attached garage with parking for 23. The very homelike commons include a semi-commercial kitchen, living room, lounge, library, recreation, exercise and craft areas, laundry facilities, and woodworking shop.

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