On Oct. 4 at 2 p.m. a special event will be taking place.
A monument on 33 St. will be officially unveiled to honour the outstanding achievements of the Twilight Homes Foundation/Kiwanis Club of Red Deer in providing lodge facilities and seniors housing in our community.
In the early years, the care of the elderly was generally a family affair.
Those in need were taken care of at home to the best of the families’ abilities. There were a few private nursing homes, but they were expensive.
By the end of the Second World War, the situation was beginning to change. It was obvious that a better system for the care of the elderly was needed. People were living much longer.
With changing times, families found it increasingly difficult to provide adequate care at home.
In 1951, a Kiwanis Club was chartered in Red Deer. It saw support for seniors as one of its key objectives.
In 1952-1953, the Club came up with the idea of creating low rental accommodations for married seniors in the community.
An agreement was secured with the City of Red Deer to acquire six acres of land on the South Hill. A loan was secured from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (C.M.H.C.), with the Kiwanis Club raising the balance.
In November 1953, the Kiwanis Club created the Twilight Homes Foundation, a non-profit society to lead its initiative. In June 1954, work began on the first Twilight cottages to provide housing for 16 senior couples.
Shortly thereafter, the Kiwanis Club and Twilight Homes Foundation launched a fundraising drive to construct an adjacent lodge to house 40 individual seniors.
There was to be some support services for these seniors with central kitchen, dining and recreation facilities, but it was not planned to provide nursing care.
At the time that the plans for a lodge were launched, there were no provincial government grants for such a project. However, the Province was so taken with the proposal that the government regulations were amended to allow up to one-third of the cost of a lodge to be provided by means of a provincial grant.
A further reflection of government enthusiasm for the lodge concept was shown when Premier Ernest Manning presided at the sod-turning ceremony in Red Deer in June of 1955.
The official opening of the Twilight Lodge took place on May 18, 1956. The importance of the lodge project, the first in Alberta and possibly in Canada, was again underscored by the attendance of Premier Manning and other provincial cabinet ministers.
Moreover, the province arranged to have the ceremonies televised.
The Twilight Lodge proved to be very popular and was soon filled to capacity.
Consequently, there was a great deal of additional construction of seniors’ housing by the Twilight Homes Foundation over the following 25 years. As well, a second lodge, the Pines, was constructed in 1975.
In 1980, there was a formal split of the Foundation from the lodges’ management board.
The board for the lodges was subsequently renamed the Piper Creek Foundation and the Twilight Lodge was renamed the Piper Creek Lodge (Pines Lodge was not renamed).
The Twilight Homes Foundation continued to operate the Twilight Cottages, Centennial Courts and Canyon View Place.
Twilight Homes Foundation continued to build new facilities including Barrett Place and Fleming Manor.
Meanwhile, Parkvale Lodge was constructed by the Piper Creek Foundation in 1988.
In 1995, the Twilight Homes Foundation also assumed management of Waskasoo Towers that had been built by the Oddfellows’ and Rebeccas’ Lodges.
On Jan. 1, 2009 the Piper Creek Foundation took over the management of the seniors housing and facilities that had been operated by the Twilight Homes Foundation.
However, the Twilight Homes Foundation did not fold. It continues to make very generous donations to several community organizations and projects.
It has been conservatively estimated that over the past 60 years, the Kiwanis Club/Twilight Homes Foundation has donated more than $2.1 million to our community.
Thus, the truly remarkable achievements of Twilight Homes Foundation and Kiwanis Club in contributing so much to our community, as well as being as provincial and national leaders, in the provision of seniors’ housing will be honoured next Tuesday.