Local residents are probably passingly familiar with the big Gold Country Retirement Community on Golden Center Drive just off Missouri Flat Road. It’s been there since 1984 and offers Independent living apartments, assisted living quarters and skilled nursing care facilities. Currently about 275 people call Gold Country home.
What local folk may not know is that Gold Country is part of a much larger organization, the Retirement Housing Foundation, commonly referred to as RHF. RHF started in 1961 under the entrepreneurial inspiration of two ministers and one layman from a Southern California United Church of Christ.
The mission then as now was to “provide dignified, affordable housing and services for the elderly.”
Laverne Joseph is president and CEO of RHF, and he opened the 50th anniversary celebration at Gold Country last April 11. He told a full house in the dining commons that RHF has 170 housing communities in 26 states from Hawaii to Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Washington, D.C. With more than 18,000 residents, “RHF is one of the largest non-profit sponsors and managers of housing services for older adults, persons with disabilities, and low-income families,” Joseph quoted from an RHF “fact sheet.”
Though founded and sustained as a faith-based organization and remaining connected to the United Church of Christ, RHF’s Philosophy and Values state: “We honor the faith and traditions of every religion and the nonreligious, and we will not attempt to impose our faith on others.”
Gold Country has non-denominational Christian fellowship groups as well as regular services by visiting clergy from the local faith community. Before turning the microphone over to other dignitaries, Joseph recognized two special residents at Gold Country. Berniece has been there the longest, since 1988, and Ross has the “most candles on his cake” with 102, Joseph announced.
With that honor, he segued into convincing the audience that “102 is the new 82,” adding that “age doesn’t mean what it used to mean. You’re the reason for our mission,” he said. “Live long, healthy and happy.”
Rocky Deal and Norman Gonzales from Congressman Tom McClintock’s office presented Dr. Joseph and RHF with a plaque from the congressman. Matthew Lee from Sen. Ted Gaines’ office followed up with a certificate of commendation.
Gold Country’s “campus” has been administered by Kate Whitehouse for the past five years. She described the makeup of the units. There are 150 Independent living apartments, some shared by husband and wife, others by single residents. In the assisted living wing, there are 36 rooms, while the skilled nursing section has 68 units.
Whitehouse said 165 staff care for the 275 residents, with the largest number serving in the skilled nursing division. Many of the administrative and nursing staff have been with Gold Country since shortly after it opened in 1984, and she noted that the company’s philosophy and policies have served to keep employees on the job.