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More than 300 Alexandria, Minn., community leaders and elected officials gathered Tuesday to recognize the work of Ecumen Bethany Community at a ceremony presenting the Business and Industrial Appreciation Day Award, a top honor for contributions to the area’s economy and community well-being.
The Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and the Alexandria Area Economic Development Commission give the award annually to a Douglas County company based on its economic impact, capital investment and community contributions.
Ecumen Bethany Community employs about 180 people and has been serving the community for 97 years.
“The BIAD award is as one of the largest and longest standing annual events of its type in greater Minnesota,” said Nicole Fernholz, marketing and communications coordinator of the Alexandria Area Economic Development Commission. “The success of Ecumen Bethany Community has an impact on the economic health of our local community, and we are proud to honor them as one of our top employers and most committed corporate citizens.”
Ecumen Regional Director Carol Kvidt, a former Executive Director at Ecumen Bethany, accepted the award at the Arrowwood Conference Center, telling the gathering: “The very heart of our work is honoring others. So when the tables are turned, as they are today, and we get honored ourselves, we are especially appreciative. This means so much to our staff of dedicated, compassionate people who have devoted their careers to the care of our seniors. We are so fortunate to be part of a community that clearly values what we do.”
Several area elected officials took the stage offering their congratulations, including Minnesota Senator Torrey Westrom and Representatives Mary Franson and Paul Anderson from the Minnesota House of Representatives, along with Douglas County Commission Chairperson Bev Bales and Alexandria Mayor Sara Carlson. Resolutions were entered in both the state House and Senate recognizing Ecumen Bethany Community for the winning the award.
Sen. Westrom told the attendees that he had fond boyhood memories of visiting his grandmother, who was a resident of the Ecumen Bethany Community. When she could no longer travel, he said his family would spend Thanksgivings and Christmases there.
“I’ve had the opportunity to see what you provide firsthand,” Sen. Westrom said. “You are a class act.”
As part of the award recognition,a video (see below) spotlighting Ecumen Bethany Community was produced and shown at the luncheon. Also, the Echo Press, the Alexandria newspaper, created a 24-page magazine devoted to the community’s work.
“As you saw in the video, Bethany — like most of our communities — started as a nursing home but has evolved into a wide array of new services and housing options to assist seniors all along the spectrum of care needs,” Kvidt told the gathering. “Even though we still operate nursing homes, paradoxically, we spend most of our time and effort finding ways to keep people out of them.”
“We know that the vast majority of people want to live in their own homes as long as they can,” Kvidt said. “And we are doing all we can to make that possible. We have made it our mission is to create home for older adults wherever they chose to live. We want to empower people to live full lives where they want… and how they want.”
In addition to recognizing Ecumen Bethany for its economic contributions, the award also acknowledges the efforts of residents, customers and employees in giving back to area charities and organizations through volunteer time and other support. Each year, Bethany is involved in local events and fundraising activities such as Relay for Life, Mount Carmel and Alexandria Chamber Golf Tournaments, United Way Chili Cookoff, Habitat for Humanity Women’s Build and Hard Hat Breakfast, as well as its own fundraising events that support residents in need of assistance.
Following the luncheon, the Ecumen Bethany Community held an open house and an opportunity to meet its new Executive Director David Uselman, who starts Nov. 3. Uselman currently is Executive Director at the Ecumen-managed St. Olaf Community in Minneapolis.