October 29, 2018

LeadingAge Awards Committee selected Garden Spot Communities as the recipient of the 2018 Innovation Award in September. Kathryn Roberts, board chair of LeadingAge and the awards committee, said, “This award is given in recognition of programs that are models of innovation and excellence and contribute significantly to the quality of life of the individuals served.”

Ruth Dunlap, resident of Thistledown, the Cooperative Living House at Garden Spot Village, accepted the 2018 LeadingAge Innovation Award on behalf of Garden Spot Communities at the LeadingAge Annual Meeting & Expo at Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia this afternoon.

According to the Awards Committee, Garden Spot Communities was chosen for this award because its leadership team recognized the need for affordable housing for older adults on fixed incomes, explored different opportunities and concepts to develop a Cooperative Living House and partnered with the local community to build the home instead of depending on government subsidies.

Garden Spot Communities Chief Executive Officer Steve Lindsey said, “We are honored that LeadingAge recognized Garden Spot Communities and the Cooperative Living House for the Innovation Award. We are excited about the opportunities the Cooperative Living House provides for us to serve our broader community.”

“Obviously a house for five people isn’t going to change the world,” Lindsey continues. “But we believe that the Cooperative Living House is one of those projects that can be scalable for the future. If we can build a house in New Holland for five people and a house in another neighborhood for five people and help a church in our neighboring community build a house for five people, pretty soon, it can start to gain the momentum where it really could have an impact on the way we care for and the way we serve older adults in our community, as we go into the future.”

In addition to providing affordable housing, Lindsey says, “The Cooperative Living House replaces isolation with community. Isolation has psychological impacts; our social and physical health deteriorates when we live in isolation. Living in community—with a small group of other people that you know, that you care about, that you learn to live life with together—helps to mitigate all of those challenges that people face as they age.”

Garden Spot Village welcomed the first residents to Thistledown in March 2018. Many members of the New Holland and greater Lancaster community helped to build the home by donating funds, materials or volunteering.

Dunlap, who moved into the home in April, said, “I’m so happy I made the decision to move to Garden Spot. It’s nice to be with people who are in different, but similar, stages of life. Together we’re making the house into a home.”