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Leadership for Generations

Richard Mulder was asked to find a better way to serve seniors, so he toured the nursing homes in the late 50s. What he found was unpleasant: crowded buildings, small rooms, and overworked staff.

“Our people deserve better than this,” he thought.

Richard Mulder’s passion to find better solutions than the nursing homes he’d seen served him well as Providence Life Services’ first Executive Director. In 1959, local churches and community representatives gathered for a ceremony surrounding the laying of the cornerstone of a new, better nursing home.

the founders of providence life services look at a model of the community

"From This Small Beginning..."

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.

providence founders raise the sign for the first rest haven community

Our First Torchlight Celebration

In 1961, 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.

A Century of Service

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 those 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.

the original holland home building

The Beginning of Ministry

1914  |  The Chicago Holland Union Benevolent Association is formed. Born in the Roseland neighborhood of Chicago and committed to serving the seniors of the local congregations, these origins led to the ever-expanding network of care and services we provide today.

The First Reformed Church of Roseland invited area churches to a meeting with the purpose of forming an organization “for a Home for the aged of Holland descent.” Eleven churches attended that first meeting. Sam Vander Ploeg, a Roseland resident who had bought an old parsonage, now donated it to the cause. D. J. Tamminga, another Roseland resident, donated a total of eight lots of land plus $1,000 to help move the parsonage and remodel it into a place of shelter and care for aging church members. The parsonage building could accommodate only 14 residents.

1924  |  A new building is built in Roseland, with room for 100 residents.

1925  |  Dedication of the new building, commonly known as "Holland Home," took place over two days, the first day in Dutch and the second day in English.

1958  | An additional wing was completed in 1958, so the new building could now serve 140 residents in 131 rooms.

1960s

1960  |  Rest Haven Open House and Dedication is held and doors are opened to residents.

1961  |  The first Torchlight Dinner is held.

1963  |  A 49-bed addition is opened at Rest Haven.

1968  |  Rest Haven Unit 2 is completed, allowing 96 more people to receive care and services.

1969  |  The Chicago Holland Union Benevolent Association (Holland Home) merged into Rest Haven Christian Services. 

a nurse from the 1960s gives medicine to a senior male resident as his wife looks on

1970s

1976  |  The new Rest Haven South building is completed and ready for occupancy. We begin serving people from this location in 1977.

1978  |  The Women’s Auxiliary celebrates 20 years of enhancing life for Rest Haven residents by involving the community in creative fundraising events.

providence founders in the 1970s groundbreaking of new wing

1980s

1980  |  We sign the purchase agreement for a hotel in Crete, Illinois, that was once Balmoral Inn and later Holiday Inn. Immediately, we begin transforming the hotel into a retirement community called Village Woods.

1981  |  The first residents move in at Village Woods. 

1984  |  The owners of Bridget Manor in Downers Grove transfer ownership of their property. We made structural and aesthetic enhancements, and by fall, Rest Haven West is accepting applications for residency.

1986  |  Richard C. Schutt is named CEO of Providence Life Services.

1988  |  The groundbreaking for Saratoga Grove brings retirement living to the western suburbs.

1989  |  Saratoga Grove opens. 

The Fairways, a development of senior living townhomes, is planned as a complement to the existing Village Woods retirement community in Crete, Illinois.

providence leadership pose at Saratoga grove groundbreaking

1990s

1992  |  Haven Park becomes part of the Providence Life Services family in 1992, offering Medicare-certified, Joint Commission-accredited skilled nursing care and rehabilitation services to seniors throughout western Michigan.

1993-1994  |  In 1993, we form the Providence Home Health Care agency (now known as Providence At Home). This agency is licensed in 1994 to provide in-home care for people who are not ready to move in to a retirement or care community. By meeting people right where they live, we can help them maintain both their independence and their health like never before.

1995  |  Rest Haven Central begins offering sub-acute rehabilitation services through Marianjoy, becoming a place for recovery, not just convalescence.

1997  |  Royal Park Place, a Retirement Living community in Zeeland, Michigan, is purchased and joins the Providence family.

1998  |  Royal Atrium Inn, an Assisted Living community in Zeeland, Michigan, joins the Providence family.

1999  |  A groundbreaking ceremony is held for for Victorian Village, a new community developed in Homer Glen, Illinois. Later that year, Victorian Village is completed and open for business. 

Our skilled nursing communities in South Holland and Downers Grove begin offering rehabilitation in addition to skilled nursing services.

providence leadership pose with shovels at victorian village groundbreaking

2000's

2001  |  Emerald Meadows Assisted Living in Grand Rapids, Michigan, joins the Providence family and is transformed into a refuge of care that feels like genuine community.

2002  |  Providence begins to offer a Hospice ministry along with our other life services, demonstrating our commitment to continue walking with people not only throughout their retirement, but also at the end of life, when they need spiritual comfort as well as physical help. 

The Education Institute opens in Tinley Park and becomes a resource for maintaining high-quality staff who are equipped to provide the best care and service to residents.

Providence At Home extends their home health service area into northwest Indiana.

2008  |  Rest Haven becomes Providence Life Services.

picture of first providence home health building

2010's

2012  |  Park Place of Elmhurst opens, providing Retirement Living, Assisted Living, Rehab, Memory Support, and Skilled Nursing. Park Place is our first “Life Care” community, offering residents a vibrant lifestyle at a locked-in rate, with guaranteed access to additional services as new health needs arise.

Providence partners with Ryan Companies to provide quality retirement living to area seniors on limited incomes. Construction on Thomas Place begins in April.

Having received State approval as “the first in Illinois” to offer skilled nursing in a “Small House” setting at Victorian Village, the Providence community celebrates at a groundbreaking ceremony in early December.

2013  |  Thomas Place opens, and quality affordable housing becomes available to seniors in Orland Park. In March, residents begin moving in.

2015  |  Providence partners with Ryan Construction again to offer affordable senior living in Lisle, Illinois. Arbor Place of Lisle opens in September.

2016  |  Park Place of St. John opens, offering Retirement Living, Rehab, Memory Care, and Skilled Nursing.

2017  |  Providence Hospice expands into Indiana, opening up new opportunities for service in that state. 

Providence Life Services CEO Rich Schutt is named the incoming Chairman of the Board for the Global Ageing Network.

2018  |  Providence Solutions launches, offering care consulting for older adults and their families.

2019  |  The Phase II Expansion of Park Place of St. John welcomes new residents.

providence leadership pose with shovels at park place st John groundbreaking