Uplands Village Celebrates 100 Years

Uplands Village is a community of forward thinking older adults who’ve chosen to live there for its beautiful, wooded setting on the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee, and the opportunity to live active lives where doing good and helping others is a focus.

In August, members and staff of the Life Plan community gathered with residents of Pleasant Hill, Tennessee, to celebrate this active spirit of engagement, now 100 years strong. Uplands is a United Church Homes managed community and shares many of the UCH values that make it a unique place to call home—everyone is welcome and the sum of their individual talents and gifts make the community more vibrant. Residents are drawn to Uplands by the pioneering spirit set in place a century ago by its founder, Dr. May Cravath Wharton, who spent most of her life caring for people in Cumberland County. Dr. May believed it takes a village to care for its members, and raised the standard of healthcare in this rural region. Part of her legacy was Uplands Village, a community where people could live and be nurtured in body and spirit while helping their neighbors.

Today, Uplands Village residents continue this tradition of compassion and mindful living, often moving to its independent living neighborhoods and joining one of its dozen of interest groups with an environmental, advocacy or charitable focus. Later, if needs change, Uplands Village offers assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing services, where their early commitment to care for individuals in lived out through The Eden Alternative. A nonprofit organization dedicated to making life better for older adults through identity, growth and autonomy, The Eden Alternative explores the benefits of alternative medicine by providing residents with meaningful opportunities to care for other living things such as plans and animals and focuses treatment on resident-directed care.

The anniversary celebration played tribute to these unique characteristics that make Uplands Village known in United Church of Christ circles across the U.S. as a one-of-a-kind retirement community.

“As a sister UCC community, Uplands shares a common heritage of mission to older adults,” said Rev. Kenneth Daniel, CEO of United Church Homes.

United Church Homes has managed Uplands Village since 2017 and sought to preserve its many resident-focused benefits while introducing new resources to support its future.

“Uplands Village is a thriving community that blossomed out of the natural environment of the Cumberland Plateau,” said Herschel Murner, Executive Director. “The partnership with United Church Homes strengthened the foundation that makes Uplands unique.”

He added UCH has provided comprehensive resources to enable Uplands Village to remain a standalone community in the future.

One of the key goals of UCH Management, said David Zack, Executive Director of Operations, is to support managed communities in meeting their own goals.

“It’s all about building strong relationships with Uplands’ governing board and leadership team and understanding goals and communication styles,” he continued.

Zack also firmly believes that UCH learns from its partners too.

The Eden Alternative model at Uplands provides an example other UCH communities have begun to emulate. And UCH’s other communities incorporate purposeful engagement with a variety of social, creative, intellectual, and spiritual opportunities.

Just as UCH fosters a unique approach to resident service, it acknowledges each partner community is unique.

“We maintain an open dialogue with all leaders, identify strengths and opportunities, and encourage strategic thinking that meets the community’s goals. We support organizations like Uplands Village to realize their strategic aspirations as well as quality care and services,” said Zack.

This consultative and supportive approach serves partner communities well and ultimately flows down to improve the quality of life all residents experience in their own community, supporting and positioning senior living communities like Uplands Village for another 100 years.