Transforming Senior Living Since 1972
Established in 1972 as a single-site nursing home by the local Reformed Church of America and Christian Reformed Churches of Denver, our Founders looked to expand CLC’s mission reach beyond “caring for our own” as the vision always has been to ensure services and care to “anyone in need,” treating each in accordance with our Christian faith and values.
The Founding of Christian Living Communities
The story of Christian Living Communities begins in the late 1960s, when the Board of Directors for Bethesda Hospital made the difficult decision to close their Continuing Care Unit, which had been providing long-term care for seniors.
With hard work, prayers, goodwill from others, and the grace of God, a small group of dedicated community members made up of the Reformed and Christian Reformed churches, as well as members from the Bethesda Hospital, opened the University Hills Christian Nursing Home on May 7, 1972. They started with just two thousand dollars in the bank. Yet, what they lacked in funding, they made up for in determination and love.
What can you do with two-thousand dollars, even back then 50 years ago, not much. So there was some struggling… it was good that Bethesda came on board… it all worked out well, never had doubts… a lot of prayer went into it. God led it all the way, without him it probably wouldn’t be here today.”
–Earl Lammers, the liaison between the Bethesda and University Hills Christian Nursing Home Association, former board member and Clermont Park resident
A plea for support went out in early 1970 by way of advertisements in The Banner and Church Herald magazines that offered non-secured “promissory notes.” Constituents overwhelmingly responded by purchasing notes totaling $627,000.
It was kind of fun as well bringing on the sweat, a few tears sometimes, but we seemed to be blessed with success.”
– Elmer Houtsma, original nursing home administrator and former Clermont Park resident
Construction began and those early volunteers, board members, and founders poured a lot of themselves into building University Hills Christian Nursing Home. Contractor Don Jeltema essentially built the 62-bed nursing home at cost.
It was his vision to provide for the elderly . . . he knew older people don’t like to be put on the shelf.”
– Dottie Jeltema, original volunteer, wife of the former Don Jeltema, and former resident of Someren Glen
We would go and sweep the floors so it would be clean for the next day and when the windows got put in we went and washed the windows and when the furniture was brought over that had been stored in a barn we washed all the furniture down – so it was just exciting, we could see the progress we were making, they were such good memories.”
– Mary Ham original volunteer, wife of the former Rod Ham who served on the original board, and current Clermont Park resident
Visionary from the Start – Advocating for Older Adults
A window for every resident – sounds common, but even today some skilled nursing communities are built with companion suites that have beds side by side, with only one window for residents to share. In 1972, with dignity and respect as the cornerstone, our founders ensured a window for each person to enjoy fresh air and a beautiful view.
Advocacy is also at the foundation of CLC. Instead of ‘Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”, we had Elmer Houtsma Goes to Washington. In the ‘70s, Congress passed legislation mandating each nursing home must have a Medical Director – little direction, no provisions for funding, legislation without a nod towards implementation. Mr. Houtsma, our first administrator, was relentless in his advocacy for nursing home rights and influenced the further clarification and financial support for the start of programs.
Elmer Houtsma also signed CLC on as an early member of a statewide senior care advocacy group then called the Colorado Associate of Homes for the Aging (CAHA), now known as LeadingAge Colorado. CLC’s faithful support helped LeadingAge grow from just a few care providers to the 200 strong members it is today.
CLC helped pioneer the assisted living option in the state of Colorado. It was among the first to develop a care level offering help with dressing, medications, and meals to seniors who didn’t fit skilled nursing criteria but weren’t safe at home. CLC was also one of the first organizations to introduce Life Plan Communities in the Denver metro area.
Today, we are leading the way with the CLC Citizenship Model for community living. Residents, team members, family members, and our vendor partners are all citizens, who together, weave a beautiful and vibrant tapestry of living.
We believe this approach will revolutionize aging services, moving beyond traditional cultures that focus on a declinist view of aging to purpose-filled cultures of shared responsibility, to citizenship.
In 1975, CLC added assisted living, memory support, and independent living services to what was then known as the University Hills Community. In 2008, a $77.7 million four-year redevelopment positioned the renamed community of Clermont Park to be a nationally recognized leader in resident-directed care and services. Clermont Park now operates as a Life Plan Community offering both life care contracts and rental agreements, and HUD affordable housing for a full continuum of services and care including adult day services. Clermont Park maintains a reputation for being one of the best retirement communities in Denver.
In 1990, CLC built The Johnson Center in Centennial, CO. Following an expansion in 1996, the community operates today as a rental Continuing Care Community offering every level of services and care. The community renamed Someren Glen has just completed a $10 million reinvestment in the residential living apartments and is currently undergoing a refresh of their assisted living apartments and a full renovation of the independent and assisted living neighborhood’s dining room, living room, community room, and more. Additionally, the Centura Adventist Health System leases land on this 14-acre campus to operate Porter Hospice Care. This community consistently receives high ratings from comprehensive audits by the U.S. Government Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
In 2001, Holly Creek was formed to create another Life Plan Community in Centennial, CO offering higher-end amenities and a full life care contract with all levels of living – from cottage residences to skilled nursing. Built in two phases, Holly Creek was completed in 2008. The community focuses on an uncompromising lifestyle full of new possibilities and the re-igniting of past interests.
Home Care Services, now called Rhythms Home Care, was created in 1985 to support independent living residents in our three Life Plan Communities and has now expanded to include a five-county area surrounding our south Denver communities. Rhythms Home Care serves older adults in their homes with non-medical and light medical support.
Dayspring Villa became part of the CLC family in 2016 via a triple net lease with Mercy Housing. CLC owns the operations and Mercy Housing owns the land. Dayspring Villa offers assisted living services, with the majority of residents receiving services through Medicaid reimbursement.
Cappella of Grand Junction was built in 2017 with our development consulting and management services through Cappella Living Solutions. CLC then purchased the community from its for-profit owner-developer in 2019. Cappella of Grand Junction offers assisted living and memory support services.
Cappella Living Solutions Forms in 2014
Cappella Living Solutions formed after an organizational restructuring to create vibrant cultures of excellence, possibility, and growth with other non-profit and for-profit organizations. We currently manage three communities in Colorado and are consulting with an organization in Boulder.
Located in the beautiful mountain setting of Steamboat Springs, CO, Casey’s Pond encompasses the full care continuum as a Continuing Care Community. Cappella Living Solutions began management services for this community in early 2016.
Sunny Vista is a unique Life Plan Community that has been evolving to meet the needs of Colorado Springs residents for over a century. From humble beginnings as a sanatorium, Sunny Vista now has three unique and intertwined senior living neighborhoods that combine to focus on every dimension of wellness for older adults. Cappella Living Solutions has been an active partner since 2015.
Bella Vita is an active adult community in Aurora, CO offering luxury apartments and amenities and community activities and events tailored specifically to enrich the lives of adults over 55. Cappella Living Solutions has been managing Bella Vita’s operations since 2015.