Credit: Christian Living Communities

What started as a Denver-based, 63-bed, single-site nursing home led by volunteers in May 1972 has now grown into a Colorado’s largest nonprofit senior housing and services organization. The organization, Christian Living Communities, recently marked 50 years of service — and shared its strategy for surviving another half century. 

Credit: Christian Living Communities

“We know from the stories of those who were part of the founding that people came together, overcame obstacles and did what needed to be done to ensure that the vision of University Hills Christian Nursing Home would become a reality,” said Jill Vitale-Aussem, CLC’s president and CEO. 

“That steadfast faith and commitment to our organization’s important work and mission have led CLC to weather the storms and impact the lives of thousands of people over our 50 years of service,” she added. 

University Hills started with just $2,000 as a nonprofit as the Vietnam War raged and inflation spiking across the country. That led to some tough times to just survive, according to founder and current resident Earl Lammers. 

The nursing home’s creators took a then-innovative approach to housing. They proposed every resident have a window — staying true to their mission of ensuring love, compassion, dignity and respect for all who walk through its doors. 

“There was some struggling, but it all worked out well, and we never had doubts,” Lammers said. “A lot of prayer went into it. God led all the way. Without [God], it probably wouldn’t be here today.” 

That one nursing home has now grown into Colorado’s largest nonprofit senior housing and services organizations — with nine communities, and a home care unit — in the state. Christian Living Communities also has four other communities in Indiana and Ohio. 

Executives for Christian Living Communities said the company plans to move forward into the next half century with the same founding principles it started on: love, compassion, respect and dignity for every individual resident, family member, team member and volunteer.

“So often we would have people come into University Hills (now Clermont Park) and say, ‘There is just this feeling here. My mother just has to come here.’ I want that feeling to always be there,” said Mary Ham, an original founder and current CLC resident. 

“Never, ever lose that feeling. It was a feeling of love.”