John George Home - 60 Years

John George Home - 60 Years

By Monetta Harr
Thursday, October 29, 2009

When Carrie A. Good was hired as administrator of the John George Home five years ago, the 31-year-old woman took over a residential men’s home on the verge of being closed by the state.

She fired the staff and, with a lot of work by her and the 15-member board of directors, launched capital campaigns that included raising more than $250,000 to build an elevator for the facility at 1501 E. Ganson St.

On Wednesday night as part of its 60th anniversary festivities, she and the board and almost all of the 17-member staff greeted the community at an open house to show off the place, which houses 35 men.

“This is a special gift from our community, and we want to say thank you,” Good said about community investment in the home.

When Good arrived, there were only 16 residents. It was threatened for violations that included vermin-infested rooms, and consistently failed to meet state standards despite threats from the Family Independence Agency that its license be revoked.

Today there are a dozen men on the waiting list to get into the home. Residents are typically 60 and older and poor, getting $900 a month in Social Security. About two-thirds of them have Medicaid coverage.

Each resident gets a private room, three meals a day, laundry service and is driven to and from medical appointments. Good also added hospice care two years ago.

“The community makes up the difference” in the money needed to provide these services, Good said. Rooms are “adopted” by the community, from individuals to service clubs. Some pay money, while others buy things like sheets and blankets or paint the room every year. She also had an “Adopt-a-resident” fundraiser in September at Outback Steakhouse that raised $11,000.

Charles Aymond, the longest-serving board member at more than 40 years, said he was one of four board members who approached the state about keeping the home open.

“The board was determined it not be shut down,” said Aymond, a Jackson attorney and executive director of the Ella Sharp Museum of Art and History. “Through Carrie’s skill and the commitment of the board, we brought it back. Carrie has done a wonderful job with her great enthusiasm and a sense of humor that helps her through some of the most challenging parts of her job.

“She is a can-do person.”

Everything about the home has been refurbished, including the exterior of the building. It went from white and gray to red, getting away from what Good thought made it look like a hospital.

Building an elevator was a top priority in the home, which in 1886 became the city’s first hospital and the John George Home in 1949. Good said there was only a stairway and if men living on the second floor eventually couldn’t negotiate stairs because of health problems — and there wasn’t a room available on the main floor — they would have to find a different place to live.

“Some of these men have lived here 30 years. Can you imagine me saying to one of them that he had to move?” Good said.

When she was hired, Good, who has a master’s degree in organization management from Spring Arbor University, admitted it was the same feeling as the time she hiked into the Grand Canyon.

“I thought, ‘Oh my gosh.’ But I knew I could hike out of the canyon, and I knew Jackson would support this facility,” she said.

Reprinted with permission from Jackson Citizen Patriot
Copyright October 2009

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