Gary and Faith Bellmore say faith and family fill their lives with joy. Little did they know, when they first met in 2011, that their joy would be multiplied as God enabled Faith’s adult children to join them as fellow residents of Valley Ridge, a senior living community in Burnsville, Minn. The community is owned by the Dakota County Community Development Agency and managed by Presbyterian Homes & Services.
“At each juncture of our lives,” says Gary, “God’s hand was upon every ‘step and stop.’ He knows who to place in our paths and at the right time.”
Those paths led Gary to meet Faith at an apartment building where Gary served as caretaker. After meeting, the couple found that they were kindred spirits. They dated for several years, became engaged, and then married in May 2013.
After settling into an apartment near Valley Ridge, Gary and Faith one day drove past Valley Ridge and were impressed by its newness, beauty and grandeur. They put their name on a waiting list.
“We prayed about it and asked the Lord if this is where we should be,” said Faith. “It took a few years, but one day Valley Ridge called, and we’ve been wonderfully blessed ever since.”
Their enthusiasm for life at Valley Ridge soon bubbled into Faith and Gary’s conversations with friends and family, including their children.
“Once they got here [Valley Ridge], they loved it and recommended it because of the Christian values, medical services, and staff,” said Sharon Stockwell, Faith’s daughter.
Those words eventually took root.
Sharon and Larry, her husband, had owned a house for 32 years when Larry told her he felt it was getting difficult for them to maintain their home and that they should consider selling it.
Sharon’s reaction? “I cried,” she confesses. “I didn’t want to move. I just wanted to stay in that house forever and die there.”
Eventually, Larry and Sharon did decide to sell, and moved into another senior apartment, but they found the apartment lacking in amenities and Christian care. “It didn’t have the same atmosphere as here at Valley Ridge,” Larry notes.
The couple moved into Valley Ridge in April 2021. “Once we got here … it was great,” Sharon observes.
Similarly, Faith’s son, Don, and his wife, Grace, moved into Valley Ridge in June 2021.
“When I found that Mom [Faith] lived here at Valley Ridge,” says Grace, “I applied for a job in the kitchen.” Grace worked there for a time before leaving for her current job with the U.S. Postal Service.
“When we had a chance to move here, I was so excited,” Grace says. “I am happy to be living here, to be with family.”
“It’s a unique situation for so many people from the same family living in the same community,” says Annette Dalluge, housing counselor at Valley Ridge. “It brings me a lot of joy to see the connections. That’s the beauty of community, right?”
Sharon says the family enjoys being close, and spending time together. Going for walks, sharing meals, attending parties, worshiping at church, playing music together, and participating in painting classes are just a few examples of “life together” for the family.
Gary and Faith laud the staff at Valley Ridge for making their home special. Whether it is arranging special meals, finding answers to questions, encouraging participation in activities, building relationships, or simply being cheerful, Valley Ridge staff add a sense of pleasantness to the environment, Gary asserts.
“They know about our lives and needs,” says Gary.
About five years ago, Faith, she had a minor—but stubborn—medical challenge. “The staff would pray for me,” says Faith, and I didn’t even know some of their names. They still cared about me.”
What advice would Sharon give to those contemplating a move into senior housing? “Don’t be afraid to go into the next season of your life,” she asserts. “Things change. Life may be different, but it can be better. Don’t be afraid. God is with you!”
Gary, Faith and their family all attest … life is better together!
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