UCH Welcomes Nine New Communities

In the Summer and Fall of last year, United Church Homes (UCH) expanded its reach, serving more seniors in nine new communities: two owned, and seven managed.

The impetus behind UCH’s growth strategy is quite simple: to serve and help more older adults live abundant lives. Its faith-based legacy is open and affirming, and its communities are highly diverse, serving seniors from every walk of life: Native American Indians, people of Hispanic heritage, individuals with disabilities, and those who identify as LBGTQ.  Its affordable housing, middle market and life plan communities all serve diverse aging populations.

The Hamlet on Darby is a newly built, vibrant middle market community located in Plain City, Ohio – a suburb of Columbus. Located on nine wooded acres alongside Big Darby Creek and three metro parks connected with walking paths, it features beautiful villas and townhomes with attached garages, covered front porches and plenty of safety features.  It has a countryside feel with easy access to all central Ohio has to offer.

The Parkvue Community on Catawba Island – formerly known as the Vineyard on Catawba Island — is also an owned community, acquired last year.  It serves as a satellite to UCH’s Parkvue life plan community in Sandusky just 20 miles away. Featuring affordable housing units and independent living apartments and condos, it offers endless opportunities for development with 57 acres in a picturesque setting appealing to active adults.

“We build communities and seek out partners that align with our mission, vision and core values,” said Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Growth Officer Terry Spitznagel.  “Like UCH, the former owner was a faith-based not-for-profit organization providing a range of services to older adults. The acquisition was seamless, without disruption to residents and staff, and is a natural fit in UCH’s portfolio.”

With a growth strategy focused on both owned and managed communities, UCH was also pleased to enter into management agreements with three communities that also align well with its mission, vision and core values: Friends Fellowship Community, St. Mary’s Development Corporation and Wexner Heritage Village.

“That alignment is a key factor in the decision to provide management support,” Spitznagel said.  “We’ve experienced 38 percent growth over the past three years in our portfolio of managed communities, but we choose our partners very carefully.  For every partnership we form, we opt not to pursue a half-dozen. We’re very deliberate in our decision-making – it must be a good fit. We want to preserve each community’s legacy, enhancing rather than changing what they bring to the relationship.”

The Friends Fellowship Community, located in Richmond, Indiana, is a not-for-profit continuing care retirement community founded in 1965.  Serving in the Quaker tradition, it offers independent and assisted living, memory care and a health care center.

“We engaged in strategic planning with the Friends Fellowship’s board – not only to identify strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats, but to better understand their needs and preferences,” Spitznagel said. “They share UCH’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion which is one of the reasons it’s such a good fit.”

UCH also entered into an agreement with St. Mary Development Corporation, founded in the Catholic tradition, to manage six affordable housing communities in Dayton: Hoover Cottages, Lofts at Hoover, Lyons Place I, Lyons Place II, McBride Place and Twin Towers Place.

“COVID has had a profound impact on our health care system, and we’re still feeling it today,” said Dan Miller, executive director of corporate compliance and UCH Management.  “It’s been particularly challenging for standalone organizations. UCH can provide much needed support that allows our partners to maintain their own governance, core values and culture.”

Wexner Heritage Village (WHV) has also engaged UCH to provide management support to its community in Columbus, Ohio. Founded in and inspired by the Jewish faith, its campus offers independent and assisted living accommodations, as well as skilled nursing, memory care and hospice support.

Shared values rather than shared faith was a priority in choosing a partner, as was selecting a partner with a proven track record of success.  UCH and WHV are closely aligned as not-for-profit legacy providers, in mission and culture, and in their honoring of all faiths.

“Members of United Church Homes’ board of directors and staff who serve in senior leadership positions are forward thinking,” Spitznagel said.  “We’re positioning the organization to continue its legacy into the next 100 years, and we see growth – in both owned and managed communities – as key to doing it.  Growth is challenging, but it’s also exciting!  We feel called to do the work we do.”