Community meeting to focus on support of Kirkside Retirement Home

Roxbury — Roxbury residents and newcomers alike are undoubtedly familiar with the striking Georgian-style “mansion” that graces Main Street. Built as a humble seven-room farmhouse in the mid-19th century, Kirkside later became the estate of Helen Gould Shepard, daughter of Roxbury native son and magnate Jay Gould. After several incarnations during the past century, this state- and national register-listed property became Kirkside Retirement Home in the early 1980s and has been operating as an independent skilled care facility for nearly 30 years.
“Kirkside is an enormous asset to the community,” said Executive Director Carole Fancher. “We as an entire region need to work together to ensure its sustainability.”
To that end, the staff and board of Kirkside Retirement Home are inviting members of the public to join in a celebration of the “community within a community” — a phrase recently coined by board member John Fairbairn.
According to Fancher, a key threat to Kirkside’s sustainability is its status as a not-for-profit organization.
“We’re the last living level-3 adult home in all of Delaware County, and trying to remain viable given the competition of new and fancy assisted living facilities, it’s really important that we maintain the historic, home-like atmosphere as a business and a home for the elderly, which is so needed,” she said. “We survive on generous contributions.”
Fancher added that the board at Kirkside hopes that the event on Aug. 14 will address a number of financial issues, including building repairs and the rising costs of food, transportation and fuel oil.
“The rising cost of everything makes it really difficult, and we just can’t raise the rent prices in this area,” she said. “It’s really hard to survive sometimes.”
Kirkside, which currently houses 16 residents with five more available spaces, is hoping to get the word out to people who may not know about the facility and who might be seeking a place for their loved ones. Fancher said that a key distinctiveness of Kirkside is the “incredible amount of care” that it affords residents.
“We administer all medications, do all driving to doctor’s appointments… we provide every aspect of care for loved ones and 24-hour supervision,” she said. “And the home-like atmosphere – it really is a large house that we all live in and work in together, including the staff, and I think that is the major difference: it is a home. A home that does an amazing amount of work for our residents. You will not find a more dedicated staff. It’s a home. And it’s a family.”
The community event begins at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 14, with tours of the facility and savory chicken barbecue and ice cream, children’s lawn games and horse drawn carriage rides along Main Street. At noon the Roxbury Nine vintage baseball team takes the field against the Mountain Athletic Club in neighboring Kirkside Park.
Folks can opt for a guided walking tour at 1 p.m. and Skip Parson’s Riverboat Jazz band will fill the air with brass band marches, French Quadrilles and ragtime from 2 to 4 p.m. All of these traditional family activities are designed to help garner support for this irreplaceable community amenity.
A $10 donation at the door gets you a tour of the facility, horse-drawn carriage ride, and entry in the door prize. Chicken is $6 per half and $10 for a dinner. Ice cream and bake sale items will also help raise necessary operational funds. Admission to the ball game, guided walking tour and Riverboat Jazz are all based on a free will donation.
For more information or to pledge a contribution, call Bonnie Walker at 607 326-4769.