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Memory Lane
Van Buren First Assembly of God's Memory Lane Alzheimer's Special Care Unit is considered the finest Alzheimer's facility in Arkansas and one of the best in the nation.

Many Assemblies of God churches care for the needy through food pantries, clothing banks, holiday meals and similar compassion ministries. But Van Buren (Arkansas) First Assembly of God may be the very first AG church to not only offer a retirement center for seniors, but now a fully-staffed care unit for individuals who have Alzheimer's or dementia.

The new $5 million, 34,000 square-foot Memory Lane Alzheimer's Special Care Unit, dedicated on November 13, was recently completed through the donation of a gift of $5 million given anonymously last November. The care unit is an addition to the already existing 60,000-square-foot Legacy Heights Retirement Center.

Senior Pastor Bobby Johnson, who has been ministering at the 1,100-member church for the past 34 years, says that in 2007 the church opened the Legacy Heights Retirement Center, offering 55 units for retirees.

Having converted a wing of the center into an Alzheimer's care unit in 2009, Johnson says at first the church struggled as the economy crash at that time took its toll. "But three years ago, a foundation offered us a $1 million grant, if we could match it," Johnson says. "We matched almost all of it and that helped us recover."

Memory Lane pictures
Much of the decor in Memory Lanes is designed to help those with Alzheimer's use their memories.

Apparently liking what Johnson and Van Buren First Assembly were doing, the same foundation came back to them this past November and offered the grant money to build a state-of-the-art Alzheimer's care facility.

AG General Treasurer Doug Clay spoke at the dedication of the new unit. "Thank you for being a wonderful and biblical example of excellence in ministry to our seniors," Clay said. "There is nothing quite like this . . . praise the Lord!"

When the new facility, which is expected to open by mid-December, is at capacity (40 patients), it will have a staff of 50 to 60 people, including nurses and other professional staff who will provide 24-hour care in private rooms. The facility is also licensed by the state.

"Memory Lane is divided into two mirroring pods of 16,000-square-feet each," Johnson says. "They each have 20 rooms and include a dining room, activities room, a beauty salon, whirlpool, an outdoor walking track within the confines of each pod, and between the pods is a safe room for residents of Legacy Heights and Memory Lane."

Clay observed that one out of eight Americans are now age 65 or older, with more than 5,500 Americans turning 65 every day. "As the percentage of older people in the population increases, problems, attitudes, responsibilities, and care related to the aging become matters of increasing concern," Clay said.

Pastor Bobby Johnson
Pastor Bobby Johnson

Johnson agrees with Clay's assessment. "Statistics say 1 out of 2 people who are 85 will contract this disease — a disease where there are no survivors."

According to what state officials have already communicated to Johnson, the new Alzheimer's facility is the best in the state and is one of the best in the nation.

"The difference is, this facility was built strictly for Alzheimer's patients — it's not an older building converted to house Alzheimer's patients," Johnson explains. "For example, our large outdoor walking track is secure, pictures and decorations are from the 1930s, 40s and 50s, which will help with memory, and each patient's door will have pictures of their family members on it."

What's more, Johnson says, those residents living at Legacy Heights and the patients soon to be a part of Memory Lane will continue to have the opportunities to hear the gospel message, through visitation of retired AG ministers and live-streaming of all church services.

And perhaps Clay summed the church's efforts up best when he said during the dedication, "Thank you for addressing this concern with care, quality and excellence."

For more information about Legacy Heights or Memory Lane, contact Van Buren First AG at info@vbfirst.com.

 

 


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National Girls Ministries missions giving breaks another record

Wed, 16 Jan 2013 - 4:14 PM CST

Some Olympic records such as Bob Beamon's (USA) 1968 Olympic long jump record of 29 feet 2 inches can hold for decades. Others might be broken more than once in one Olympic competition, as with the 2012 British Cycling Women Team Pursuit, that broke the world record in each round of the competition and finished with the gold medal.

The Coins for Kids total giving for the 2012 project - Alaska: the place of God - has broken the project giving record for the third year in a row! Girls across the United States gave $215,276.34 to help build a permanent multi-purpose building at Camp Agaiutim Nune (Camp AN) in Western Alaska. The amount beats last year's giving record of $201,263.

Candy Tolbert
Tolbert

"We are absolutely blown away," exclaims Candy Tolbert, national Girls Ministries Director. "Our giving year for Alaska was actually closer to 9 months than 12 this year. Project giving has been from April to March until this year. Due to that, churches could give to the 2011 South Africa project through March 2012. From that point on, offerings were dedicated to Alaska. In a year of transition, God has provided."

In faith, missionaries Jim and Linda Schulz began making preparations throughout the year to build the new multi-purpose building. Due to the limited weeks of good building weather, camps will be held in the drafty tents for one last summer. Teams are in place to deliver materials and begin building on July 1. A dedication of the new building is scheduled for Summer 2014.

"I knew from the beginning that this project was birthed in our hearts and His timing was perfect," says Schulz. "Thank you to the girls and leaders across the nation for being sensitive to the Holy Spirit to give and to come along side us in prayer."

"The girls in our clubs have once again taken the Coins for Kids project to heart," Tolbert adds tearfully. "They have given to help the Yupik people of Alaska have a place to come and hear the salvation message and grow in their relationship with the God of the universe. Teaching girls about the Great Commission is one of the greatest purposes of Girls Ministries Girls Clubs. I am thrilled to see girls giving so faithfully."

As churches heard about the Alaska project many without Girls Clubs that just had a heart for the project gave too. These churches and Royal Rangers Outposts gave an additional $12,748.93.

"We might not have reached our Coins for Kids goal of $225,000 for this project through the giving of the girls in our clubs," says Tolbert, "but with the help of some Royal Rangers and other churches, Camp AN will receive enough funds to construct a building where Yupik children, youth and families can come each summer and experience a relationship with God in a warm, dry environment."

Coins for Kids is a BGMC (Boys and Girls Missionary Challenge) endorsed effort. For more information about Girls Ministries and Coins for Kids, click here.

Authors: Lori Van Veen

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