Lakeview Village and Ridgeview Village have been “sister communities” since Lakeview Village helped found this Olathe-based community for seniors with lower incomes in 1997. Today, Ridgeview Village is much more than “home” to older adults: it is colorful rain barrels and gardens and Bible study classes and volunteers and meetings and neighbors and . . . well, just about everything that goes into a happy, active and healthy lifestyle in Johnson County.
Michelle Wilson, Executive Director of Ridgeview Village, emphasizes “healthy” when she describes the environment there.
“Aging well is what we’re all about, regardless of a community member’s level of income,” she explains.” Ridgeview is the result of recognition that many older adults cannot afford to live in traditional retirement communities.”
It all started when a former county director of Human Services and Aging Division approached the Lakeview Village Board and inquired about their sponsoring a housing project to support seniors with limited incomes. Under a government program that financed the construction costs, Ridgeview was opened in late 1997. The program established a 40-year contract for senior housing, and today Ridgeview Village sits on land leased from Johnson County for $20 a year.
The first phase, Ridgeview I, included 42 one-bedroom apartments within a main one-story building and two six-plexes. When the need for more housing became evident, Lakeview Village sponsored a campus expansion in April 2003, a 65-unit, two-story building adjacent to phase I. According to Michelle, there’s a 6-12 month wait to get into an apartment.
“Ridgeview Village has become a popular location for senior living, thanks to the marvelous support we get from Lakeview Village. Although Ridgeview is governed by its own board of directors and each building is owned by a separate 501c3 corporation, we could not do without the involvement of Lakeview’s Board of Directors, its President and CEO Jamie Frazier, and staff in many departments, such as Community Services and Facilities. We are blessed with a back-up system when needed, whether its grief counseling, blood pressure clinics, or transportation for resident shopping trips. We also appreciate Nelson Rumore, Executive Director of the Lakeview Village Foundation, for helping to raise funds for our resident activities.”
Michelle manages the community with the help of Connie Stiles, Service Coordinator; Gayle Whitehurse, Occupancy Specialist; and the Building Services team, Jon Kittleson and Randy Burns. A cohesive team, they each pitch in when needed to take good care of the 109residents on the campus.
“This year we’ll be continuing the upgrade of Ridgeview I, including tearing off old wallpaper, re-painting, and landscaping improvements. We are always making upgrades and improvements to make life better and healthier for our residents.”
Volunteers also play a key role at Ridgeview Village.
Ridgeview’s board chairperson, Ray Makalous, initiated a Giving Grove at Ridgeview where apple trees were planted and will be harvested by members of the community. In addition, Eagle Scouts have helped improve the garden area with various projects such as refinishing the garden benches, adding a memorial rose garden, and helping with irrigation. Other supporters, such as the Shawnee Mission Northwest Art Honor Society, painted a colorful rain barrel for use by the Ridgeview Village gardeners.
“We keep a busy pace here,” says Michelle. “That’s what well- being is all about.”