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Friendship Haven celebrates 60 years of excellence

The dream has not only become a reality, but just keeps getting better

August 8, 2010
Messenger News

For 60 years, Friendship Haven has been an important part of the northwest Iowa region and a unique place for people aged 55-plus to call home. As Friendship Haven celebrates its 60-year anniversary, it honors the history and tradition of excellence, the more than 6,700 residents that have called Friendship Haven home and continued innovation for the future.

Making the dream a reality

The vision of creating a "senior home" or home for seniors in northwest Iowa began in the 1920s. It was championed by the Rev. Clarence Tompkins, a hard-working Methodist minister who dreamed of a safe, affordable home for "God's older children." It was not until 1947, however, that the city of Fort Dodge donated sufficient land and money - all gifted by community leaders - to make the dream a reality.

Many individuals played an important role in the history of Friendship Haven. The president of the Fort Dodge Betterment Foundation, H.C. Kirkberg, came forward with a gift of land - a cow pasture on the top of a hill as the site for Friendship Haven.

Julia Oleson and other community supporters gifted $50,000 to enable the construction of the first building to begin.

And with a vote of the Methodist Church, led with a motion made by the Rev. Ralph Kitterman, Fort Dodge was chosen as the location and new home for Friendship Haven.

Fact Box

Help the dream evolve

Join Friendship Haven and support its charitable mission by attending the second annual Legends Tailgate. There will betailgate food, games, entertainment, live and silent auctions and a "Rock and Roll" raffle. An after party will follow at Amigo's.

Aug. 21 5 to 8 p.m.

Friendship Haven Campus

Tickets available online at or at Friendship Haven - $15 a person or $25 a couple. (Tickets are $20 at the door)

Live and Silent Auction Preview

"Grill Escape" - Private Cooking lessons for six with Wine Pairing from Chef Cory Dawson

Cheeseburger in Paradise progressive dinner at Twin Lakes

What's in the Coach purse

Pool party at Friendship Haven, pizza and cake for 20

Green Bay Packers team autographed football

Many sports and entertainment tickets and packages

Rock and Roll Raffle - Tickets $25 each

42" Panasonic 1080p plasma television

Bose On the Go sound system

Bracelet from Kirkberg Connections

Two Allegiant round-trip tickets from Des Moines to Las Vegas

Questions - call 573-6999

Local and statewide community support did not end there. Young and old made donations for the cause. More than 50,000 bricks were sold to Sunday school children and hundreds of pledges were made to help with the construction and subsequent operation of Friendship Haven.

Building on the dream

The first resident moved into Friendship Haven in July of 1950. What started out as the "West Building" has grown to a full campus, a continuing care retirement community with a complete range of senior living options.

Today, Friendship Haven offers town home living, the Heritage and Kenyon Place independent living apartments, The Gardens assisted living, long-term and short-stay nursing care, Second Family home care and Generations Adult Day Services.

Friendship Haven, as a leader in the area of memory support, has continued to expand options for people living with all stages of dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Employee training and ongoing education for staff members provides quality memory support services at Generations Adult Day Services, The Gardens Assisted Living and Tompkins Health Center.

The Catalyst Rehabilitation Program gym is busy with people living at Friendship Haven, those who have an illness, injury or surgery being helped to become stronger during a short stay or people from the region requiring services for outpatient physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy. Friendship Haven's wellness director also offers the Arthritis Foundation Aquatics Program in a safe, ideal environment for relieving arthritis pain and stiffness without putting excess strain on joints and muscles. This program is open to the public.

Friendship Haven's most recent addition is Henrietta's Garden. Residents, family members and visitors to campus relax and celebrate nature in the garden located south of the Hearth Dining Room at Kenyon Place. The garden, including a pergola, stony creek, footbridge and dozens of flowers, trees and plant varieties, has been developed through a generous donation from campus resident, Henrietta Van Maanen. The natural beauty offers photo opportunities for senior photos, weddings or a family reunion.

More than just a place to call home, the Friendship Haven lifestyle incorporates unparalleled amenities and opportunities that maximize physical, intellectual, social, emotional, spiritual and vocational wellness. Friendship Haven's services provide individualized attention to maximize independence and security. In addition, because of generous donors to the Good Samaritan Fund and the Care Trust Endowment Fund, Friendship Haven has never had to ask a resident to leave because they have outlived their assets and can't afford to pay for the full-cost of living here.

Friendship Haven has created an atmosphere where individuals can pursue their passions and nurture their spirits. The goal is to have diverse living options, amenities and lifestyles that meet seniors' current needs and the anticipated demands and lifestyle of future residents and the region.

Daring to imagine, beyond the dream

As the state's demographics change, Friendship Haven continues to proactively plan to meet the future needs of seniors in our region. According to the United States Census Bureau, Iowa has the nation's fifth- largest senior population, and by 2030 the number of seniors in Iowa will double. Friendship Haven is daring to imagine, beyond our current dream to continue to address these changes and continue to be an innovative leader in senior living.

Thank you, Fort Dodge and Northwest Iowa for supporting Friendship Haven for the past 60 years. Friendship Haven is looking forward to many more years of providing opportunities for seniors to live lives with faith, passion and purpose, and we hope that you will continue to dream with us.

Jennifer Crimmins is director of development at Friendship Haven and can be reached at



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