FOSTORIA - About 150 people, including residents, local dignitaries and community members, turned out for a groundbreaking ceremony Friday at Good Shepherd Home in Fostoria. Construction is to begin on a new therapy unit for physical, occupational and speech therapy for skilled nursing patients and for outpatients.
In his opening remarks, director Chris Widman mentioned the 100-plus years of the home's history. Affiliated with the Church of the Brethren, the original nursing home was founded in 1904 in a two-story brick building. Widman shared a little history and pointed out a "litany" or list in the program.
"When they dedicated the home back in 1968, this was the litany that was in the program. Our belief is, it was written by Earl Lehman. Earl was the administrator at the time and was very instrumental in the building of the first 'new' Good Shepherd Home."
Later, Lehman served on the home's board, became a resident in Good Shepherd Villas and spent is final days at the home. His widow, Grace, and their daughter, led the litany for Friday's ceremony.
The crowd also heard remarks from Sarah Christman, physical therapist with Fostoria Community Hospital, who has been treating residents at Good Shepherd for about six years.
Christman said the unit will help temporary residents to regain the skills they need to return to their homes and will help permanent residents to maintain strength and flexibility.
The advanced rehabilitation equipment, such as the driving simulator and the therapy pool, was selected by the therapists who will be using it.
Widman said the project has been in the planning stages for about three years, and it has increased in size from the original concept.
The project is to cost an estimated $1.2 million. Widman said a capital campaign, "Therapy for All," already has collected significant pledges and contributions, but more funds are needed.
The Rev. John Bollinger was present to represent the Northwest Ohio District of Church of the Brethren. In 2012, the Fostoria Church of the Brethren closed its doors.
Bollinger said the legal work is in progress to donate the church and grounds to Good Shepherd.
Fostoria Mayor Eric Keckler spoke briefly, calling Good Shepherd "a wonderful corporate citizen." Seneca County Commissioners Holly Stacey said the project is a "tremendous commitment" to the community. Commissioner Fred Zoeller recalled Walter Whiteman was the general contractor for Good Shepherd Home in 1968.
For the actual ground breaking, Widman selected six residents to handle the shovels, with assistance from staff members.
The residents included: Bob Watson, Cloyce Rader, Carol Hall, Jane Watson Francis Burns and Mildred Alge, respectively assisted by Kathy Theis, Masonn McIntire, Veneko, Maggie Crowe, Lois Dearsman and Don Lee.
Then he invited a "second round of diggers" to participate: Keckler, Zoeller, architect Buck Withers, Clouse, Bollinger and Dennis Studrawa, a member of the home's development committee.
Widman said the groundbreakers represent the ideas and efforts of the many people who shaped the project. He also requested continued prayers and support to see it through to completion.
For more details, visit www.goodshepherdhome.com, stop at 725 Columbus Ave., Fostoria, or call (419) 937-1801.