Message from Mike
As you know well, the past several months have been unlike
anything that any of us have ever experienced. COVID-19 and the resulting
economic downturn have challenged us all tremendously. At Bethesda, we have had
to adjust and evolve quickly, doing what we must to ensure we will be here well
into the future. With your help, your encouragement and your prayers, we are on
We are looking forward to the future – a time where our
innovations and services will impact more people with intellectual and
developmental disabilities than ever before. That is what this issue is all
about, and as you’ll see, in many ways the future is already here.
You will witness how behavioral support, often delivered
virtually, is improving outcomes and lives in multiple states. You will learn
how our transition and employment support are empowering independence and
raising expectations of people supported as well as their families. And you
will experience a taste of the “joyful living” now being enjoyed by residents
of Bethesda Cornerstone Village, a first-of-its-kind residential community now open
in Minnesota – with many more developments to come.
While we are excited about the possibilities of innovation,
we are humbled by the responsibility we have to help people with disabilities
live their best lives. It is a responsibility we take seriously and I hope we
can count on your continued support to realize this amazing vision.
May God bless you,
Mike Thirtle, PhD
President & CEO Bethesda
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of
– Galatians 6:2 NIV
‘Joyful living’ becomes reality
Cornerstone Village achieves a momentous milestone
On Thursday, September 24, we celebrated the grand opening of our first Bethesda Cornerstone Village, a new Christian residential community in Victoria, Minnesota, just southwest of Minneapolis. Bethesda Cornerstone Village creates the promise of “joyful living” for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities as well as active adults 55 and greater.
“This beautiful housing community celebrates independence
and brings people together in a fulfilling, comfortable lifestyle,” said Tom
Campbell, Bethesda’s vice president of real estate. “Both seniors and people
with intellectual and developmental disabilities struggle to find high-quality,
accessible housing in nice neighborhoods. Bethesda Cornerstone Village-Victoria
meets those needs and delivers so much more.”
Bethesda Cornerstone Village Victoria consists of a total of
52 homes: 37 apartment homes and 15 villa homes. Up to 20 percent of the
residences will serve people with a disability who live independently. The goal
of the new development is to offer accessible, high-quality housing while
encouraging independent living and fostering connections among residents. It is
the latest example of innovation for which Bethesda is becoming nationally
“Our belief is the strongest communities are inclusive and
create an environment where everyone is welcome,” said Campbell. “We are
creating spaces where more people can enjoy the area, and we feel blessed to
have found broad support among our neighbors, city leaders and other
stakeholders for this project.”
Bethesda intends to expand the inclusive living concept by
building additional Cornerstone Village locations in clusters around major U.S.
cities, including in the Twin Cities. Each will be tailored to the needs and
demographics of its community.
The project features state-of-the art smart home technology,
including fiber interlink for the entire campus, wireless access points, and
smart thermostats, light switches, doorbells and garage door openers. All the
rooms have universal design concepts, such as low-threshold showers, bathroom
grab bars, larger units for wheelchairs and large pocket door handles for those
with dexterity issues. In addition, Bethesda installed numerous safety and
security measures, including a robust common area camera system, access control
and smart unit deadbolts.
Residences are built to accommodate evolving needs as residents
age, and offer maximum accessibility with features including walk-in showers,
pocket doors and wide doorways to easily accommodate walkers and wheelchairs.
The villa homes have attached one- or two-car garages and the apartment home
building features an underground parking garage for easy access in any weather.
Leisure activities at Bethesda Cornerstone Village Victoria
are made easy with a beautiful community center that features lots of natural
light, plenty of space to gather with friends and organized learning sessions
like cooking classes, Bible studies, fitness activities, and wellness
activities. The state-of-the-art fitness center offers an array of exercise
machines and classes.
Bethesda recently hosted grand opening events including a
ribbon-cutting ceremony, laying of the cornerstone and burying a time capsule.
Residents of Bethesda Cornerstone Village, welcome home!
A grand celebration
After years of careful planning, preparation and hard work, we were thrilled to be able to celebrate the grand opening with our staff, members of the community and—of course—the residents of our first Cornerstone Village. And while the celebrations were somewhat muted due to COVID-19, the occasion they marked was no less joyous.
Throughout the course of two events, both of which were
livestreamed and attended by hundreds of supporters, we heard from incredible
partners like Tom Funk, Mayor of the City of Victoria; Jonathan Weinhagen,
President & CEO of the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce; and Troy
Hudson, Chaplain for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
“Bringing joyful living and independence to people with
disabilities is a godsend,” said Hudson.
Funk also spoke about his excitement for Cornerstone Village
and having it be part of his community.
“This project truly demonstrates inclusiveness,” he said,
“which makes Cornerstone a perfect fit for the City of Victoria.”
The ceremonies also featured the installation of a cornerstone
to commemorate the occasion and the burial of a time capsule, which included a
number of items to mark the times, like a copy of the day’s newspaper, masks
and hand sanitizer, and notes of well wishes from staff and people we support.
“Cornerstone Village is a blessing to me from God,” said
Hanna, one of Cornerstone’s first residents. “My goal is to be more independent
and I feel like this is just a really great opportunity for me to do that.”
Lauren, Hanna’s best friend and roommate, agrees. “My future has more opportunities now that I have this apartment, this place to live, and this community of people around me,” she said.
At Bethesda, it’s words like these that drive, motivate and inspire us to continue pushing the boundaries of inclusion, community and independence for people of all abilities. We are proud of the impact a place like Cornerstone Village is already making for people like Hanna, Lauren and so many others—and we look forward to supporting many more like them in the future.
Bethesda, our goal is to help people live fulfilling, meaningful lives. But
when a person is engaging in problem behaviors or lacking in specific skills,
it can have a negative effect not only on their life, but on the lives of those
That’s why, as part of our 2030 vision, we’re proud to offer behavior supports, a highly customizable and positive approach to promoting behavior change, from reducing problem behaviors to promoting skill-building.
Learn about Behavior Supports
Having a job you love can be an important part of living a full, happy life. It fosters independence. It promotes personal growth. And the sense of satisfaction from a job well done is good for the mind, body and spirit.
Bethesda, we believe everyone deserves the opportunity to find meaningful
employment. And we know some people just need a little extra support. That’s
where we come in.
Read about Employment Supports