During an era when America was launching out into the new territory of space, Providence was launching bold new ministry ideas. After a decade of prayer and planning, in 1960 we opened a nursing home in the Chicago area for elderly saints who needed more care than their families or churches could provide. That first facility, known as Rest Haven and located in Palos Heights, Illinois, began with 50 beds. By 1962, we were already raising funds to double our capacity. By 1967, we had expanded to serve 195 seniors. By the end of the decade we added the Holland Home family to our association, expanding not only the number of people we served, but also the types of services we provided.
1960 Open House and Dedication — 700 people attended
1960 — Immediately upon opening its doors, Rest Haven was full to capacity.
1960 — The First Rest Haven Board of Directors: John O. Dykema, President, Edward Van Der Molen, Vice President, Ernest Van Hattem, Secretary, John W. De Vries, Treasurer, J. Richard Mulder, Director, Henry De Young, M.D., Leonard Gorter, John Gritter, Andrew Ridderhoff, George Slater, August Vander Woude, Mrs. Robert Wood, RN
The first Torchlight Dinner was a fundraising effort designed to “Keep Aflame the Lamp of Mercy at Rest Haven.” Held at Chicago’s McCormick Place, the event gave 961 people an opportunity to hear Dr. Ralph Blocksma, President Emeritus of the Christian Medical Society. In response, they recommitted to the new venture with prayers and financial gifts. From left: Souvenir program from first Torchlight dinner; Torchlight attendees; Dr. Ralph Blocksma
Rest Haven was full to capacity from the first day it opened. Recognizing the enormous need, Rest Haven leadership began planning for expansion. By 1963, a 49-bed addition was opened — and immediately filled. Churches were invited to celebrate God’s provision at an Open House dedicating the new addition.
By 1966, Rich Mulder was again presenting plans for expansion, in order to realize the dream of quality care for aging church members.
In 1967, construction began on a second building addition. By 1968, that addition — known as Unit 2 — was completed, and 96 more people could receive care and services.
1967 – Construction of Rest Haven’s second building addition
1968 – Unit 2 completed and open for business
1968 – Mr. and Mrs. John Suter were the first residents of Rest Haven’s Unit 2
The end of our first decade of ministry also marked the beginning of a partnership that extended our roots by 46 years. In 1969 the Chicago Holland Union Benevolent Association (better known as the Holland Home) — an organization that had been ministering to seniors since 1914 — merged into Rest Haven Christian Services. The Holland Home met different needs than what Rest Haven was designed to meet, though the two ministries complemented each other. Rest Haven offered nursing services to elderly church members who were sick or needed medical care their families could not provide. The Holland Home provided community living, family dining, and a range of social activities. By merging the two ministries, we could offer people a broader range of services as their needs changed.
1914 — The former parsonage of First Reformed Church of Roseland, Illinois, had been purchased by Sam and Minnie VanderPloeg with intention of donating it to a ministry that would use it as a “Home for the Aged.” The VanderPloegs had no children, but they recognized the need for senior services and care. In 1914 they donated this building to the Chicago Holland Union Benevolent Association, and it became the first Holland Home. Neither Sam nor Minnie ever resided in the home, but generations later, their great niece, Carol Koopman, moved into Royal Park Place, a retirement community in Zeeland, Michigan, that is part of the expanding legacy of that first Holland Home.
The cornerstone for a new, larger building in Roseland was laid in 1924, and the building was dedicated in 1925. The dedication ceremony was offered on two different days — the first day in Dutch, the second in English.
1969 – “Your Holland Home and your Rest Haven Home have joined hands,” announced the December 1969 issue of Rest Haven News