Volunteers of America Massachusetts held the Grand Opening of its new senior residence, Forestdale Park, on Wednesday, June 13. State and local officials, residents and their families, local community and business leaders, healthcare professionals, and the greater Malden community were in attendance at the ribbon-cutting celebration – more than 200 friends, families and guests. Special guests included Mayor Gary Christenson, City Councillors Barbara Murphy, John Matheson and David Camell, City Controller Ron Hogan and Malden Redevelopment Authority Executive Director Deborah Burke.
The new community opened its doors to its first residents in March after a five-year effort of Mayor Christenson and the City of Malden working closely with Volunteers of America Massachusetts, which is the owner and developer of the project, to completely renovate the former McFadden Manor Nursing Home to this state-of-the-art senior living residence. Design elements reference the site’s original country setting, including original wood flooring, stone walls and a careful preservation of the historical elements in the original farmhouse.
“We just couldn’t be more pleased to be able to have the opportunity to keep our residents here in our city,” remarked Mayor Christenson at the ribbon-cutting. “We’re always talking about the future, but we can’t forget about the past, and being here tonight, I think this project is a blend of both those themes.” Mayor Christenson especially recognized Ward 5 Councillor Murphy, Controller Hogan and members of the Malden Historical Commission, who he deemed instrumental in getting the project off the ground.
“This is a property that’s been used for seniors of this community for 150 years,” said Volunteers of America Massachusetts CEO/President Tom Bierbaum, “so it seemed like the right type of service to recreate, modernize and really make a contemporary benefit and amenity for this community. And, hopefully, it will be here for another 150 years!”
Attendees also got to hear from Forestdale Park pioneer resident and lifelong Malden citizen Virginia Ruane, who cut the ceremonious ribbon. Ninety-two-year-old Ruane shared her experience living at Forestdale, expressing her gratitude for the community’s social life, dining experience, staff, accommodations, and quality of care. “I can’t find one fault here,” she said. “I’m telling you the truth!”
Ruane also professed that she was anxious to tell her friends how glad she was to make the move, although she admitted that she was a bit hesitant at first. “What I like best,” she explained, “is that I have the freedom to do what I want, to come and go anyway I wish. I am still involved in my church and my organizations, and writing for the paper.”
In addition to getting to hear from several residents, families and others involved in the project’s development, event guests were able to tour the new community’s amenities, including several dining rooms, a fitness center, a full-service salon, a creative arts center, a bistro, a piano lounge, and adorned outdoor spaces, including a garden area with raised planting beds built through a donation from Home Depot.
Forestdale Park has close to 40 residents living in their new apartment homes already enjoying the community’s active “EnrichedLIFE” lifestyle and “brain healthy” menu options. “Forestdale Park has independent senior apartments, supportive assisted living and a specialized Compass Memory Support Neighborhood, all in one building, “explained Forestdale’s Director of Community Relations, Terri Guenard. “It’s a combination that truly lets a resident ‘age in place.’ This benefit, paired with a unique building and a gorgeous rehab, means that apartments are going quite quickly.”
Senior Living Residences President Robert Larkin – of the company that manages day-to-day operations at Forestdale Park – said, “We truly appreciate the warm welcome we have received from our neighbors. We look forward to becoming an integral part of the Malden community and an important resource to local seniors.”