Members of a church in Illinois spent five days last week slinging burgers, flipping flapjacks and cranking out fried potatoes under the hot summer sun, but they won’t be keeping a dime of the proceeds.
Instead, all the money earned — about $15,000 in a typical year — through their food stand at the annual Adams County fair will go to shore up the North Adams Home in Mendon.
Watching news about operator struggles across the state over the last year, parishioners at the First Congregational Church decided to continue their long-running relationship with North Adams.
The church was instrumental in the 92-bed nursing home’s founding in the 1970s, and a nursing home staff member volunteers at the stand each summer, administrator Thomas E. Ohnemus said.
Exactly how the money will be spent has yet to be determined, but Ohnemus told McKnight’s the gift will be a morale booster for both residents and staff. Illinois has seen 20 skilled nursing homes close since 2014, according to the Herald-Whig. Many have blamed low Medicaid reimbursement rates and delayed payments by the state.
“The end result will be a greater sense of security as the residents and staff realize that the community is there for them in a time of need,” Ohnemus told McKnight’s. “North Adams Home, like all long-term care facilities, feels the stress when there is a lack of funding from the state level…. The Church has given us hope and has reassured the Home that they are dedicated to our mission: providing quality care in a loving, family-like environment.”
First Congregational member Ron Beck said church leaders did not want to see North Adams Home face closure.
“We don’t intend to let it get that far,” he told the Whig, noting the vote to donate the food stand proceeds was unanimous. “We just don’t want to lose that home. It would be such a big loss to the community.”
Ohnemus said he is unsure how or when he’ll receive the funds. The fair only wrapped up Sunday evening. But when the big day comes, he plans to recognize the church and its members with some sort of public thank you. A delicious meal might be on the table.