Heritage Ministries: A Historical Timeline
Throughout this historical timeline, you will notice that the name, Heritage Ministries, was not the original title of the organization. When the ministry was first established, it only included the children's orphanage and a separate home for older adults. Today, we provide a wide range of services, all of which were not accounted for under the previous name, "The Gerry Homes." As a result, the organization underwent a name change in 2002, creating an expanded ministry program under the name The Heritage Group. In 2008, we underwent another name change which created Heritage Ministries.
The 19th Century: Humble Beginnings
May 6, 1886: The Heritage Group incorporates under the name of "The Orphanage and Home of The Free Methodist Church." The founder, Bishop Walter A. Sellew, continues to provide strong leadership for the next 43 years. His vision from God is to do special work in saving young people and providing a shelter for older adults in need. His desire is that the Free Methodist churches, as a whole, will stand behind the ministry and support it any way they can. Bishop Sellew states,
"We solicit the cooperation, assistance and prayers of all, in carrying forward this work which we believe God has committed to our charge."
December 31, 1899: In one building, the Orphanage is serving 43 children and the Home is serving 16 senior adults.
The 20th Century: The Evolution of a Ministry
The 1900s see many changes for The Heritage Group as the ministry evolves to meet growing needs and changes that affect its operations. With committed staff and an on-site farm, it survives The Great Depression and two World Wars during the first half of the century.
1901: A new building specifically for senior adults is built and expanded over the next several years.
1903-1955: Day school for orphanage children is offered on campus.
1907: The General Conference of The Free Methodist Church officially recognizes "The Orphanage and Home" as an accredited institution.
January 8, 1909: The name of the organization officially changes to "The Gerry Homes."
January, 1916: The Messenger (now known as the MiniMessenger) begins providing ministry updates to Free Methodist churches.
1935: After almost 50 years of operation, 1,302 children and 200 aged persons have been served. Rev. B. N. Miner begins Harvest day in order to attract Free Methodists to the campus. Over 250 people attend and bring food and donations from many of the area churches.
June 9, 1959: The mission statement of The Gerry Homes is developed and reads as follows, "The purposes and objects of the corporation are hereby extended or otherwise changed as follows; to establish, operate and maintain a home for aged persons; to establish, operate and maintain a home for the destitute, abandoned, neglected and dependent children."
June, 1965: Due to changes in policies and government regulations creating foster care, The Gerry Homes is forced to discontinue the operation of The Children's Home.
November, 1967: Under the leadership of Executive Director Harold Schwab, the Board decides that The Gerry Homes should take a new approach and provide three different levels of care for retirees all on the same campus (what is now considered a Continuing Care Retirement Community today); a nursing home (Skilled Nursing), congregate living (Assisted Living), and apartments and cottage-style homes (Independent Living).
1971: Heritage Village Health Care Center opens on the Gerry campus completing the full continuum of care for retirees.
1986: In celebrating 100 years of operation, The Gerry Homes has 150 employees and serves 250 residents.
January 1, 1995: The Gerry Homes realizes a complete paradigm shift in mission with the acquisition of two new health care centers in the Jamestown area, Heritage Park and Heritage Green. Under the leadership of President Donald Cutler and Board Chairman Richard Leonard, the Board begins to look for new areas of expansion across the country. The southern United States was of most interest since The Free Methodist Church had not yet been established in this area.
The 21st Century: Where Will God Lead?
June 19, 2000: Carolina Village Continuing Care Retirement Community opens its doors on a beautiful 66-acre campus in Rock Hill, South Carolina.
April 29, 2001: Carolina Village Continuing Care Retirement Community celebrates its Grand Opening & Dedication. This new community will serve over 220 residents in accommodations ranging from Independent Living (50 duplex homes and 50 apartments), 20 Assisted Living apartments and a 40-bed Health Care Center.
May 30, 2001: Heritage Green Health Care Center breaks ground for the addition of a new wing that will include 51 new beds (transferring from Heritage Park) and amenities such as a multi-purpose auditorium, chapel and occupational/physical therapy suites. In conjunction with this addition, Heritage Park Health Care Center undergoes major renovations to also upgrade its facilities. We currently provide compassionate, long-term care to 420 residents in Chautauqua County.
June, 2001: Pathways, the innovative training program for CNAs, is recognized by WNYAHSA (Western New York Association of Homes & Services for the Aging) as the Program of the Year.
October 1, 2001: Responding to a Human Services Needs Assessment Study for Chautauqua County that identifies childcare as the greatest need, ground is broken for Heritage House Childcare & Learning Center. This non-traditional childcare center returns The Gerry Homes to its roots in ministry to children. A public campaign is launched to raise additional funds to build, equip and endow this new human service ministry.
May 7, 2002: Heritage House Childcare & Learning Center celebrates its Grand Opening and Dedication Ceremony. This center serves 50 children between the ages of 6 weeks and 5 years.
July, 2002: The corporate offices of The Gerry Homes move from the rural Gerry campus to North Main Street in Jamestown, New York. This move allows for easier access to the other member facilities of the ministry family.
November 1, 2002: The organization continues to grow and expand each year. Because of this, the decision was made to change the name of the organization to The Heritage Group. This name encompasses the wide range of services we provide individuals and families associated with our human service ministries.
January 1, 2005: President Donald E. Cutler retires after twenty-two years of faithful service to The Heritage Group. Beginning his tenure in 1982, Don held the vision for expanding the ministry, touching more lives with the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
For well over 100 years, The Heritage Group has changed to meet the growing needs of those it serves. With over 800 employees, The Heritage Group is the 7th largest employer in Chautauqua County, New York. The future is bright as the horizon continues to broaden with new and extended human service ministry opportunities.
February 21, 2005: The Board of Directors officially name David Smeltzer, Executive Director of The Heritage Group.
August, 2005: Ownership of Carolina Village Continuing Care Retirement Community is transferred to ACTS Retirement-Life Communities. ACTS renames the community Park Pointe Village.
September 18, 2006: Heritage Village Retirement Campus receives official approval from the New York State Attorney General and begins accepting reservations for its new Hillview Cottages. These spacious cottages will offer two floor plans for independent living residents.
October 2, 2006: Heritage Green Health Care Center officially opens its Outpatient Therapy Clinic. Discharged residents now have the available option of continuing services with trusted therapists.
November 13, 2006: As the focus of care in our nursing homes continues to shift toward short-term rehabilitation and specialized skilled nursing services, The Heritage Group Board of Directors votes to create legal DBAs for Heritage Green, Heritage Park and Heritage Village - changing "Health Care Center" to "Rehab & Skilled Nursing."
June 15, 2007: Heritage Village Retirement Campus dedicates Bergquist Gardens, a large sensory and exercise garden made possible by a $92,000 EnABLE grant from the New York State Department of Health.
June 19, 2007: At the annual Employee Recognition Dinner, The Heritage Group unveils two prestigious employee awards to honor outstanding individuals who exemplify the mission of the organization. Patricia Kaczar, Unit Manager at Heritage Green Rehab & Skilled Nursing, was awarded the inaugural Rev. LeRoy L. Lundgren Servant Leadership Award and Mary Lou Clark, Director of Clinical Support Services, was awarded the inaugural Mary Lou Clark Customer Service Award.
January 1, 2008: The Gerry Nursing Home Company, Inc. (d.b.a. Heritage Village Rehab & Skilled Nursing and formerly Heritage Village Health Care Center) officially transfers ownership to Heritage Village Rehab & Skilled Nursing, Inc., a new not-for-profit organization. This transfer of ownership will permit the 120-bed facility to receive a New York State Medicaid reimbursement rate based on current operational costs rather than the outdated 1983 rate that had been in place.
June 1, 2008: Due to the transfer of ownership of Heritage Village and other organizational changes, a decision was made to change the name of the organization to Heritage Ministries. This name encompasses the wide range of services we provide individuals and families associated with our human service ministries.
September 25, 2009 : Heritage Ministries was awarded a $5 million grant as part of the Healthcare Efficiency and Affordability Law for New Yorkers (HEAL NY). This grant will specifically allow Heritage Ministries to construct three, twelve-resident, “smallhouse” model Adult Care Facilities at our Woodlands location. The goal of this initiative is to offer current and future skilled nursing residents a home-like, modern alternative to institutional skilled nursing beds.
January 1, 2011: Heritage Ministries officially begins its 125th year of ministry.
May 14, 2011: Heritage Ministries hosts its 125th Anniversary Celebration. The Children's Home and Orphange reunion takes place at Heritage Village Retirement Campus the original site of the home. The day's main event features a tent worship service with Bishop David Roller of the Free Methodist Church followed by birthday cake and a punch reception.
June 2011: At the annual Employee Recognition Dinner, Heritage Ministries presents the inaugural Walter S. Fleming Chairman’s Award to honor outstanding employees who who exemplifies the mission, vision, and core values of Heritage Ministries. Chaplain Haglund was presented the award's first nominee Mr. Fleming, who just retired from serving 19 years on the Heritage Board was on hand for this special award presentation.
Summer 2012: The three "small-house" model Assisted Living households, Orchard Grove Residences, are complete and await approval for occupancy. Construction has begun on The Woodlands independent living section, two duplexes and one single family home are underway.