February 5, 2014

In visiting The Danish Home over these past several years I have met so many wonderful people, from the friendly residents and staff to the many visitors and generous supporters and benefactors who support its mission.  A mission that was forged over 125 years ago and still holds so dear to all of us in the extended Home family.

I find my visits to see Mormor to be almost invigorating and refreshing, not adjectives one would necessarily think to use when describing a visit to a retirement community, but this The Danish Home has a tradition of caring for seniors, and it shows.  This is why Mormor loves living here so much, and why we are so glad to see her so happy! It is welcoming, and everyone has a story to share or is interested in hearing mine.

They take great pride in their Danish heritage but, contrary to what you may have believed, there are residents here that are not of Scandinavian heritage as well.  The Danish Home may have been started with the founding mission to help care for elderly Danish-Americans, and today their mission is somewhat similar, but they offer a secure and caring environment to all  – whatever their heritage may be.

In 1891 The 12 Founding Women forged this mission on faith – faith in a belief to care for the elderly, faith in one another that they would succeed, and faith that their community would support them.   Eleven years later, in 1902, the doors opened and their mission was accomplished.  Many would say that the cornerstone of any community is its faith.  Faith navigates all of us through life’s journey, regardless of our personal philosophy or religion. Faith carried Emma and her family across the Atlantic from Copenhagen to Chicago.  It helped her start her own business in a new country, and later, establish a lasting organization that still thrives today.

Danish Lutheran Church 1911

During my visits to The Danish Home I am often told stories centered on faith and its importance in our lives.  Such as how windows were salvaged from the Danish Lutheran Trinity church, where many residents were married, and now hang in The Danish Home’s Chapel.  Trinity church stood at the corner of N. Fransicso Avenue and W. Cortez Street in the Humboldt Park neighborhood of Chicago.  Unfortunately, in the 1970’s it was torn down to make way for the expanding Norwegian American Hospital.  Before this was done some caring individuals salvaged the windows and gave them a new home in Norwood Park.  The lot is now a parking lot for the hospital.  The people who use it on a daily basis most likely have no idea that the plot of land has historical and emotional significance in the neighborhood, the city and its citizens.

In talking about the chapel at The Danish Home I also hear many wonderful stories about Pastor Best, Chaplain of The Danish Home from 1956 to 2013, a very dear friend.  I did not know Pastor Best, but from what I’ve head he was a very caring and generous individual and meant a great deal to the community.  Pastor Best will be dearly missed.

Each time I visit The Danish Home I hear more about it and I can’t help but reflect on all that I have also learned in these past few months from the contents of The Hope Chest.  So many years have gone by, but our faith in a loving community and caring friends and family still endures.

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The Danish Home Chapel