Sale of Sabine Oaks Home allows for four donations to area nonprofits serving seniors

Sale of Sabine Oaks Home allows for four donations to area nonprofits serving seniors

The Sabine Oaks Board of Directors donated $490,000 to four area nonprofits after receiving funds from the 2014 sale of the Sabine Oaks Assisted Living Home to Serenity Assisted Care Living, LLC.

The board, which donated $120,000 each to Nutrition and Services for Seniors, Some Other Place, Family Services of Southeast Texas and the Southeast Texas Food Bank, also donated $10,000 to OASIS, a program provided by Trinity United Methodist Church for those with dementia. The board also paid the rent for residents of Serenity Assisted Care Living in December 2016. The nonprofit donations were made within the last year, with small amounts given in December 2016 and large amounts given in June, said John Stafford, president of the Sabine Oaks Home board.

“They have a long track record,” said Barbara Warren, secretary of the Sabine Oaks Home board, of the nonprofits chosen to receive the funds. Warren said that by law, the nonprofit is required to donate the funds from the sale to other nonprofit organizations of their choosing. “A lot of people on the board have participated in these organizations. We have a track record of knowing that they are managed well and handle their money very well. The fact that they served the population, that was in the original mission of Sabine Oaks.”

Janet Walker, executive director for Family Services of Southeast Texas, said the donation will go toward establishing a reserve fund to meet emergency needs in the future at Family Services Women and Children’s Shelter and Family Services Counseling Center.

“This donation will help ensure that the nonprofit can continue to serve families in crisis,” she said.

Dan Maher, executive director of the Southeast Texas Food Bank, said the funds will go toward the implementation of a new senior box program, in which qualifying seniors will also be able to register for future monthly distributions of food boxes.

“We have 2,000 boxes each month that we have to distribute,” Maher said. “This couldn’t have been more perfectly timed because we’re kicking that off, and this will really energize that program and hopefully energize it for years to come.”

Executive Director of Some Other Place Paula O’Neal said the money gives her nonprofit the opportunity to continue to serve people.

“It was just a true blessing,” O’Neal said. “It’s been a difficult year. Funding is down from all sources, so this was just really a godsend.”

Elaine Shellenberger, executive director at Nutrition and Services for Seniors, said the donation keeps the wheels rolling for the non-profit’s Meals on Wheels program.

“It allows us to serve seniors who might not get to be served, and it really helped eliminate our waiting list,” she said. “It just really made such a difference in the ability to provide services to keep our seniors at home but not alone.”

The donation marks the end of the Sabine Oaks Home era, which dates back more than 70 years.

The nonprofit Sabine Oaks Assisted Living Home was founded in 1945 by members of the Ministerial Alliance and the Beaumont Council of Church Women who realized the need in Beaumont for a care facility other than a nursing home for people needing some assistance in daily life.

According to Sabine Oaks literature, a “council member who reported the deplorable living conditions of many older Beaumont citizens took the young inexperienced council president on a tour to show her the cause for her concern. They visited three three-story ‘sharp shooter’ houses with bathroom facilities on the first floor. They were dark and overcrowded with cots lining the halls and rooms. There was no privacy whatsoever. The older citizens shared the facilities with younger shipyard workers. The charge was 25 cents per night. No meals were provided. The president’s emphatic response was, ‘Something must be done.’“All of this was during World War II when Beaumont was overwhelmed by ship builders, and places to live were at a premium. Young and old who were without homes, family, or friends and who had limited financial resources were forced to live in houses like the ones visited by the two council women.”Viola Raney and the Rev. P. Herndon were two of the early leaders in that effort. Beaumont Junior League members volunteered their time regularly to the home as well.They “provided invaluable services on a regular basis with loving care and thoughtfulness. Members sponsored parties and entertainment and rendered personal services for many years,” according to Sabine Oaks literature.

Originally located on Sabine Pass Avenue in a large two-story house, it was the first assisted living home in the area, according to Warren. In the 1960s, Mattie Lou Koster, founder of the Benign Essential Blepharospasm Research Foundation, spearheaded the fund raising effort to build a new facility at 1945 Pennsylvania Avenue, the current location of the business (now Serenity Assisted Care Living).

With only 25 rooms, the Sabine Oaks Home allowed residents to enjoy a smaller facility and more intimate care than they would receive otherwise, Stafford said. The fact that the facility was small, nonprofit and not supported by a national association, however, made it financially tough for the board.

“We were basically having to make it on our own for years,” he said. “We had a rather large trust fund that we kept drawing off of for probably 10-15 years to pay the overruns that we had for staffing and everything.”

The number of residents gradually declined for the facility and due to various changes in the community, the board made the decision to sell.

“We kept trying to get more residents in there, but there was just too much competition,” Stafford said. “We tried advertising and word of mouth to try to get the census up, but we got down to 10 people and we just couldn’t afford it and we didn’t see anything improving in the near future because all these other places were opening up and offering discounts.”

In 2014, Roselyn Vertil, owner of Serenity Assisted Care Living, approached the Sabine Oaks Home board about buying the facility. Vertil’s original location was at 3449 Platt Ave. in Port Arthur. Serenity expanded from being able to serve 10 residents in its original location to now being able to serve more than 25 in Beaumont.

“Faced with declining residents and the fact that we thought we were just going to have to close the doors, it was really a godsend that she bought it,” Warren said. The sale took place in July 2014.Around 80 percent of the residents who lived at Sabine Oaks before the sale stayed when Serenity took over the facility, Stafford said.

“The home is still there, still open and is still a nice place for your family member to go,” he said.

Although the sale of Sabine Oaks brings the nonprofit’s mission to an end, it also has allowed them to help provide a future for others to carry on their charitable works, Warren said.

“Even as the chapter closes on … Sabine Oaks … we were able to give to programs that will serve thousands probably. It enhances the programs of these four nonprofits immensely,” she said.

“It’s a privilege to be chosen to carry on the legacy,” Maher said.

Photo by Kevin King - Dan Maher, executive director of the Southeast Texas Food Bank; Paula O’Neal, executive director of Some Other Place; Elaine Shellenberger, executive director at Nutrition and Services for Seniors; and Janet Walker, executive director for Family Services of Southeast Texas, each received $120,000 from the Sabine Oaks Board of Directors for their respective nonprofits from the sale of the Sabine Oaks Assisted Living Home to Serenity Assisted Care Living, LLC. 

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