Since the middle of last century, we have been working with people of all abilities. Here is a short timeline of our history going back to our beginnings.
In the 1960’s in Northern Indiana there was a concern growing in the Mennonite Church that congregations were not welcoming and supportive of people with disabilities and their families. This concern started with families who had a family member with a disability, but the concern was increasingly shared by others.
In December 1974 this concern finally took shape in the creation of Project Promise, a program run by volunteers specifically oriented to the spiritual needs of people with disabilities. This new ministry met at Clinton Frame Mennonite Church east of Goshen, and included regular meeting and worship times. In October 1976 the first annual Project Promise spiritual retreat weekend began.
While many people gave time and energy to the creation of Project Promise it was primarily driven by the vision of Drucilla Chupp. If not for her prayerful, gentle but persistent commitment to finding a place in the church for people with disabilities Project Promise and all that followed would never have come about.
Once Project Promise had been established there grew an increasing interest in taking care of not just the spiritual but also the daily living needs of adults with disabilities. In February 1977 Herb Minnich and Paul Kurtz called together a group to consider providing residential services (i.e. homes). The decision to proceed was made and Mennonite Disabilities Committee (MDC) was formed.
It took some time to get the residential services started. By the summer of 1978 staff had been hired with Dan Steiner as consultant and Drucilla Chupp as part-time secretary. In February 1980 the first house was purchased. It was located in the country east of Goshen on County road 34 and was named “Mennoheim” (Mennonite Home). Along with Project Promise, Mennoheim became the second program of MDC. Originally envisioned as a year round residential home, Mennoheim evolved in a short period into a respite care house with Dan and Vera Steiner providing the caregiving. By this time 50 congregations were providing some type of financial support to MDC, including Silverwood Mennonite Church which donated office space.
In the summer of 1984 Don Kauffman was employed as MDC administrator. Over 60 congregations were now involved with the ministry. He was replaced by Darrel Hostetler in September 1987.
While Mennoheim was greatly appreciated there was still a vision for providing permanent year round housing to adults with developmental disabilities. In the summer of 1985 MDC formed a Long Term Residential Needs Committee to assess the ability of MDC to work with congregations to provide long term housing. The conclusion of this committee was to proceed with long term housing plans, and a Residential Facilities Committee was formed in the summer of 1986 to put those plans into effect. The program was named Merimna Homes, based on a Greek word “merimna” meaning “to care”.
In the fall of 1988 the property at 1514 College Ave. in Goshen was purchased. The following year this house was remodeled and named Pleasant Place. In addition the properties at 1518 and 1520 College Ave. became building sites for new homes. By the end of 1989 the house at 1518 was built and became the new location for Mennoheim Services, and 1520 was built and named Harmony House. The first caregiving staff for the long-term homes was hired in August 1989 and the first residents moved into Pleasant Place in September.
In 1990 an additional home at 1510 College Ave. was obtained. In 1991 a property was opened at 1610 College Ave. after the financial contribution of a single donor. This house was named Omega House. That same year the administrative offices were moved from Silverwood Mennonite Church to the back of the 1510 property, and the front of the house was opened for new residents. In 1999, the 1510 property was named Kauffman House after Frank Kauffman, a strong supporter of MDC who retired that year as maintenance manager.
Leroy Mast replaced Darrel Hostetler as administrator in 1992. The next year Leroy Willems began as MDC administrator, a position which he held until December 2003.
In 1994 MDC entered a partnership with Dan Steiner to operate a house on 12th St. in Goshen to serve individuals with autism. That year MDC also partnered with Yellow Creek Mennonite Church to provide caregivers for an elderly member of that congregation. This Yellow Creek House was closed in 1996 when this elderly person died.
In 1995 the Mennoheim guest house expanded services to assist persons in crisis. This was done in partnership with Oaklawn, ADEC, and Goshen public schools. That same year the basement of the Mennoheim house at 1518 College Ave. was remodeled to provide additional bedroom space and a community gathering area. That same year the Wildwood House at 1729 Wildwood Court in Goshen was opened.
The Vita House, located at 1725 S. 12th St., was opened in 1995. This was a partnership with Goshen College where an adult with a disability would share college housing with up to three college students. The resident would participate in college activities and the students served as caregivers. Vita House was meant for men. In 2001 a similar house for women, Valesco House, was opened. In 2004 both houses were closed because they were not able to be sustained financially.
In 1996 several acres of land one mile east of Middlebury were donated to MDC with the intent that residential services begin there specifically adding individuals with autism. The initial plans for Goldenrod Community began. In 1997 a task force was organized and committees formed. The first duplex was built in 1999. A timber frame barn was constructed by volunteers in 2000, and the second duplex was built in 2001. Goldenrod Gardens, a greenhouse connected to the Goldenrod Community Barn was opened in 2002.
In 2002 MDC began to cut back on some of its programming, largely because of financial problems. The Mennoheim guest house at 1518 College Ave. was closed and the administrative offices were moved to one side of that location. The other side of 1518 was leased to the Young Adult Program, a program run through local school corporations to teach living skills to young adults with a developmental disability. The next year Goldenrod Community was scaled back and served a smaller number of people. Rather than being the direct caregiver at Goldenrod Community, MDC chose to serve as landlord to adults with a disability with other organizations providing the caregiving.
In 2003 the board of directors changed the name of MDC to MDC Goldenrod. The reason was because MDC served many people outside of the Mennonite Church, and because the title of “committee” did not adequately describe the work of the ministry.
In 2004 Orv Yoder served as interim director of MDC Goldenrod. He was replaced in July of 2004 by David Heusinkveld.
In 2005 a new Mennoheim guest house was opened at the first house in Goldenrod community in Middlebury. That same year new residents moved into the second house.
In 2006 the Merimna Home program was restructured. Caregivers had been compensated as volunteers, and worked an unspecified number of hours. With the change caregivers are paid an hourly wage and work only a specified number of hours. The program was reoriented to serve people with a moderate level of disability who do not need continual supervision.
In October of 2007 MDC Goldenrod began a state funded program called Supported Living. It then became possible to provide much needed support to individuals who have greater physical and/or developmental needs. These services are provided in the individual’s home or in one of MDC Goldenrod’s homes.
In October of 2010 David Heusinkveld resigned as Executive Director to move to Kalona, Iowa. Orville Yoder replaced David and served as the Interim Executive Director until a full-time Executive Director could be found.
Orville Yoder remained at MDC Goldenrod until Megan Gumbel began on February 28, 2011. Client growth continued but the waiver funding was decreased in 2010 so major cuts needed to be made. Despite that, services continue to be high quality and staff continued to be mostly positive.
Megan Gumbel remained at MDC Goldenrod until the end of April 2014. At the time of her departure the board decided that an interim Executive Director was needed so that a window of time could be given to evaluating where MDC Goldenrod was headed in the future and what corresponding skills and gifts were most needed in the Executive Director position moving forward. Jon Kauffmann Kennel was hired in this capacity for the duration of 2014.
In late 2014, after a thorough search process by the board, Tammy Friesen was hired as MDC Goldenrod’s new Executive Director. She began in this new role January 5, 2015.
In 2018, following substantial wok and revisiting its core mission and vision years prior, MDC Goldenrod rebranded and was renamed Goldenrod.
1514 College Ave
Goshen, IN 46526
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