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Know Your Nonprofit: Senior Services With Community Of Care

Photos by Hillary Ehlen and special to Fargo Monthly

Featured photo: Former Community of Care volunteer Bill Kent

With help from the Impact Foundation, we’ve broken up the numerous Fargo-Moorhead organizations into 12 categories. With more than 100 charitable organizations in the Fargo-Moorhead area alone, we know that you’ll come across an organization that tug at your heartstrings. Within the listings of local charities we’ve published, the organizations are split into subcategories that will make it easy for your charitable spirit to find its match. Here is our spotlight on the Senior Services nonprofits, featuring Community of Care.

Community of Care

41 Langer Ave. S., Casselton

Community of Care believes rural Cass County is a great place to live, no matter your age. Through a holistic approach of care coordination, Faith Community Nursing and volunteer programming, Community of Care provides programs and services to help older adults continue to say, “There’s no place like home in rural Cass County!” Community of Care provides a number of resources for seniors living in rural Cass County, including a volunteer transportation service that provides rides to Fargo for older adults to attend medical appointments.

Thanks to Community of Care, Bill Kent can keep living in Casselton, N.D., where he will continue to be an active member in the community there. Bill is a member of a coffee club, is involved in public community events and always has a smile to share with those around him. Bill utilizes the ride service that Community of Care provides after facing some medical setbacks, but he hasn’t always been in the passenger seat. For about 10 years, Bill drove for Community of Care himself, transporting seniors from rural Cass County into Fargo for needed appointments.

“I loved it. If I didn’t have this [medical] problem I have now, I would still be driving with Community of Care. I loved the people, I loved to visit with them and hear their stories and then I also could tell my stories,” he said. Bill is widowed and lives alone now, so he cherishes the opportunity to share stories from his 88 years of life. Myrna Hanson, Executive Director of Community of Care, noted that it’s not just transportation from Point A to Point B that makes this organization so important, but socialization is a big piece of it too.

“There’s a lady I used to pick up and bring her into town, and we always had to stop in West Fargo at this one particular restaurant. When her husband was alive, they always stopped there for a bowl of soup. So when I was driving her, we always had to stop for a bowl of soup there. Every time,” Bill shared. Many seniors are unable to transport themselves. Trips to important medical appointments and memorable places like this wouldn’t otherwise be possible for them.

Bill is no longer in the driver’s seat, but he continues to be a large part of Community of Care‘s beautiful tapestry through his storytelling and advocacy for the program.

“I love Community of Care. It is important because it keeps us older people in our homes that we are used to,” said Bill. “I went through this with my folks. They didn’t have Community of Care at that time.” He shared that he had to watch his grandfather pass away in a nursing home after having suffered a stroke. Later in life, Bill also saw his wife struggle with illness. “I wish [Community of Care] had been around for the months she had to be at home. I had to keep my job, because I had to keep an income, and I wish we would have had someone like Community of Care to take care of her.” Wanting to keep her at home at this time, Bill had to rely on Lifeline and kind neighbors who were willing to take care of his wife when he was gone for work.

“The longer I work at Community of Care, the more I see that there is just something about ‘home’ and about that community,” Myrna said. Without Community of Care, older adults would need to seek assistance elsewhere, forcing them out of their treasured community surrounded by friends, family and familiar things. Supporting Community of Care allows more people, like Bill, to be able to say, “This is home and this is my community where I belong.”

Community of Care

From Executive Director, Myrna Hanson

Giving Hearts Day‘s Impact

Giving Hearts Day has helped to raise awareness of our mission and not only in rural Cass County. Our Facebook posts have generated a great deal of activity, especially around GHD. People like and share the pictures, stories or videos, which results in more people knowing about the work we are doing in rural Cass County. We see more people liking and following our Facebook page during GHD. The funds raised make a big difference in our ability to care for “grandmas and grandpas” in rural Cass. In 2018, we raised approximately 15 percent of our yearly budget on GHD.

By The Numbers

In 2017:

  • We served 505 individuals
  • We facilitated 19,772 miles of transportation bringing older adults to medical appointments
  • 209 people volunteered in some aspect
  • We served 263 people to review their Medicare Part D drug plans and the average savings were $500 per person
  • We have older adults exercising twice a week in five different locations in the county
  • We mail our newsletter twice a year to every box holder in rural Cass County (approximately 7,300 copies).
  • We are the only organization of our type, providing the variety of services in the state of North Dakota.
  • We were selected as a Bush Prize Winner in 2014, one of only three in North Dakota.

What More Could Be Achieved With More Donations

More donations would allow us to expand our services, likely through increases in staff time. One particular dream is to expand our Faith Community Nurse programming to other parts of the county. Our current nurse works two days a week in the northern part of the county. We have seen the results of her work and know there are needs in other parts of rural Cass County. An additional Faith Community Nurse staff would allow us to serve a greater number of clients and their needs.

More Ways To Help

We welcome more volunteers who provide transportation to bring older adults to their medical appointments. We also have groups who have done yard work for area seniors. Like many organizations, we are also in need of technology assistance to design brochures, create graphics, shoot and edit video.

Short-Term Goals

Our short-term goal is always to increase the awareness of our organization. We know that many people do not understand or seek our services until they are in need for themselves or a loved one. A year ago, we sponsored a webinar, Estate Planning SMARTS, focused on adult children of aging parents. We brought in Susan Johnson-Drenth, the only certified elder attorney in N.D. to do the presentation. We want to expand our educational opportunities such as this to provide information for older adults and their adult children.

Long-Term Goals

We would love to see our program replicated in other parts of North Dakota to serve more rural seniors. Not as an expansion of our program, but as a model based on local community needs with local community champions.

What Would Be Lost In The Community Without Community Of Care

If Community of Care didn’t exist, older adults would need to seek assistance elsewhere, and we truly believe many of them would have to move from their rural Cass County homes. Our program was developed to fill the gaps, not to duplicate available services. Without us, residents in northern Cass would not have the Faith Community Nurse resource to provide education, referrals and support. Some older adults might get a ride to the doctor from a friend, but many would not get to their medical appointments without our organized network of volunteer transportation. With our conveniently located offices, people stop in or call to receive assistance from trusted employees who they know personally. Many clients and their adult children tell us they don’t know where to turn for help and we provide information and peace of mind.

What Gives?

  • $26 provides a ride to a medical appointment
  • $40 provides an hour of Care Coordination or Faith Community Nurse services

More Senior Services Organizations in the FM Area

Bethany Retirement Living

“On average (some are more, some are less, depending on the amount of services they receive), it costs about $15 an hour for the care provided to our residents. This includes a lovely place to live, around-the-clock care, meals, housekeeping, activities and love. It’s a bargain.” – Grant Richardson, Senior Executive – Development and Community Relations


“We help fulfill our resident’s dreams through our Day Dream Program [Senior Make-a-Wish]. One resident received a family wedding invitation, and her dream was to wear a new dress for the occasion. Eventide staff helped her in purchasing a dress and also having her hair styled for the special day. Donations to this program help make dreams come true.” – Trudy Latozke, Executive Director of Foundation

Memory Café of the Red River Valley

“We hope to truly change the way people think about memory loss. I have heard from some in the medical community that a diagnosis of dementia is the hardest to give. One of my biggest hopes for Memory Café is that we can provide people with hope, even in the midst of living with memory loss. While we know it can be difficult and challenging, it does not mean that you will have to live life without love, acceptance or joy.” – Beth Ustanko, Co-Founder

Southeast Senior Services

Valley Senior Services

“We are constantly searching for volunteers to help deliver Meals on Wheels.” – Brian Arett, Director

Veterans Honor Flight of ND/MN

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Written by Alexandra Martin

Alexandra Martin is the editor of Fargo Monthly. She hails from Huntsville, Alabama, but graduated from Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri with a degree in Fashion Communications. When she's not in the office, she is busy taking care of her small zoo of pets, cooking up vegetables, or listening to true-crime podcasts.

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