It was like a reunion of those who made their dream come true. The 25th anniversary of Vintage Pointe senior housing in Kenai brought together the pioneers and elected officials who a quarter of a century ago put a strategy in place where failure was not an option.
“In 1986 we realized that Kenai or the Peninsula didn’t have a pioneer home in our area. So we had to watch our elders and homesteaders go to Anchorage or somewhere else because there was no housing for them here. So we were going to lobby the State of Alaska to build us a Pioneer Home here, but because of the operating costs they weren’t willing to do that anymore, so the City of Kenai and the Senior Center conjured up a great idea and said if you give us funds to build the facility, we will not come back to ask for operating funds. Over the process of lobbying for that in very creative ways, including homemade cookies, we ended up with enough money to build the facility that is here now to accommodate the need of our elders in the Central Peninsula that was not being met by the state,” said former Senior Center Director and Kenai Mayor Pat Porter, who returned from her new home in Texas especially for the celebration.
“It took us two years to accumulate the funds to build it, but we have never gone back to the state and for the last 25 years have had affordable housing here for our senior citizens to be able to remain in their home community and it is still available so they don’t have to leave family and friends and go somewhere else unless they so choose,” added Porter.
One of the original residents, JoAnne Hollier, was on hand and opened her apartment to all visitors at Vintage Pointe.
“It was a joy for me to bring her flowers and recognize her as one of the original tenants. JoAnne Hollier actually stood in line all night long with several others to be able to select the apartment she wanted. It’s been a huge success, we lobbied in a very unique way which actually made national news. This project was one that we used for our first All-America City Award. We were able to make a presentation before the nation on how we managed to make this project happen with a very clever marketing plan to our legislators that made it work. It has never been allowed to run down and still looks brand new and rather than taking their retirement funds somewhere else they are spending in right here and is benefiting our economy and community” said Porter, director of the Senior Center for 23 years.
Former State Senator Paul Fisher also turned out for the celebration and said he remembered asking the Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC) if it was legal to accept the homemade cookies as a gift from those lobbying us for funds and they said it would be OK, but then the next day changed their minds and said it would not be OK.
“And I said it’s too late we already ate them,” laughed Fisher.