The Danish Home was a buzz this week as residents prepared their finery for the annual fund-raising event happening this Sunday at Arlington Park and Racetrack. Mormor is wearing a blue suit with a black hat and shoes. She has had the hat since the 1950s and she will be absolutely stunning on Sunday! She is certainly planning to enjoy the horse races and knows quite a lot about them because she and my granddad frequently went to The Derby in Kentucky.
The event is to benefit benefit is for The Danish Home Foundation. Of course there are many opportunities to help residents at The Danish Home through the great work of the Women’s Auxiliary, Summerfest and Fallfest; but the proceeds from this event benefit the benevolent fund for residents who have outlived their resources as well as capital improvements and programs for the community. A charitable care fund was established at the Home’s inception so that if ever a resident can no longer afford to pay the expense of their residency, they can ask the Foundation for financial assistance. It is such a great service and no one ever knows the recipient needs financial help.
I’ve known a long time that The Danish Home has been around since 1891 and was started by 12 very caring women, but I wanted to know more about the Home’s past. Naturally, I looked through the Hope Chest and even The Danish Home library. I found a number of interesting facts you might enjoy.
During the 1890 to the early 1900s, people who wanted to care for seniors who were kindred by ethnic, religious or other origins established hundreds of homes like The Danish Home. Families at that time were more dispersed, smaller and often unable to take care of their elders. Seniors were frequently grouped with children, lunatics, indigents and others when they could no longer contribute financially to the family or community.
After decades of raising families and living a dignified, hard-working life they were rewarded with dormitory-style living quarters in almshouses or poor houses and often in the company of undesirable people. So when these wonderful homes became an option, seniors were delighted to turn over all their assets for the privilege of living a fine, engaging and comfortable life.
I can just picture Emma Thorsen assembling eleven others in her sitting room and discussing how they were going to organize a Society that they named, “Danske Kvinder’s Gode Ojemed.” But translation of this country phrase that loosely meant assisting people in need was difficult. It was not long before the name was changed to “The Society for the Danish Old People’s Home.” This caring group of women realized that immigrants would have had little opportunity to build a nest egg for their old age. The Danish Home was the haven they would need.
Ms. Thorsen was president of Society for many years. Mrs. C. H. Hanson, wife of the Danish Consul General in Chicago was a member of the founding group and a strong supporter of The Home for many years. She served as president after Mrs. Thorsen.
Many changes and advancements have been made over the years at The Danish Home, primarily from the generosity of the many dedicated donors. According to Scott Swanson, president and CEO of the Home, “We have a magic here, a delightful happiness and “hyggelig” that anyone who appreciates the Danish style of living is welcome to enjoy.”
The Annual benefit is this Sunday at noon. For tickets, call 773-775-7383. I hope to see you there!