Local retirement community gives back

From left, David Bricka, Village Concepts program director, Miranda Wilson, Helping Hands Food Bank and Solution Center executive assistant, Nate Vandenburg, food bank volunteer and Village Concepts team member, and Sandra Jensen, Village Concepts executive director, pose for a photo.

A check for $2,300 was hand delivered to Miranda Wilson, executive assistant of the Helping Hands Food Bank and Solution Center at the Village Concepts Country Meadow Village Christmas party.

Over the year, staff and residents of the retirement community raised money through the summer barbecue, Holiday Bazaar and Buffet and through proceeds from Kathy’s Kloset, a consignment shop for the residents and staff. In addition to the monetary donation, the retirement community has been collecting donation items for the food bank through a basket in the lobby that generates about 500 pounds of donations each year.

“With this donation we will be able to purchase healthy, nutritious food that will feed hundreds of people,” Wilson said. “We are so grateful for your generosity.”

In the past 10 years, Village Concepts has donated over $24,000 to nonprofit organizations in the area.

Issaquah’s Star-Studded Calendar for a Cause

At first blush, from afar, the people posing in Village Concept of Issaquah’s 2020 calendar look like famed movie characters, from Top Gun to Star Wars to Wayne’s World. Lean in a little closer, though, and you’ll realize Wayne and Garth don’t look quite like they used to. The hilarity and popularity of Village Concept’s themed calendar is back for a second year, featuring some of the senior residents, who live at the Spiritwood at Pine Lake community, and their families dressed as popular TV and film characters. The $35 calendar raises money in support of the Alzheimer’s Association. Mugs, ornaments, and reusable tote bags also will be available. To purchase the calendar, contact Jennifer Angell at jennifera@villageconcepts.com or by calling 425.313.9100. 

2019 Family Business Awards, Large Companies: Village Concepts

IT TAKES A VILLAGE: Steve Brown, president of Village Concepts, left, with his son, Stuart, the company’s chief executive officer. Image Credit: Hayley Young

Village Concepts
Location: Auburn

Village Concepts owns and operates some 20 housing and assisted-living facilities across the Puget Sound region and Central Washington that serve more than 1,300 seniors, with a top-flight nursing staff at the core of its care model.

The company was launched in 1975 by Bill Brown and is now led by the second and third generations of the Brown family — with Bill’s son, Steve, serving as president and Steve’s son, Stuart, serving as chief executive officer. Along the way, the company has remained true to its commitment to quality resident care while also keeping up with the times by incorporating new training, education and care programs. It also stays in tune with the needs of its residents through programs like Project Bucket List. The program allows seniors to fulfill lifelong dreams — making it possible for Dorothy Roth, who played in a World War II-era women’s baseball league, to throw out the first pitch at a Seattle Mariners game, for example.

The company promotes open communications and input from all family members, holding true to its credo of “creating a village that feels like family.” Family members are encouraged to work for the company, but they must still apply and qualify for positions. The Brown family’s business philosophy appears to be paying dividends. Village Concepts recorded a 14.4% increase in annual revenue between 2016 and 2018, to $40.8 million, and hired 60 new employees last year — and currently employs around 375.

“Creating supportive environments that foster continuous learning is a central value in the Brown family and is what Village Concepts strives to achieve,” the company says.

Issaquah Man Has Ties to America’s First Pilgrims

It’s been almost 400 years now since the Mayflower first arrived in Massachusetts, and the lives of those first pilgrims can feel so removed from us now. More than a dozen generations have come to pass, and with that, countless cultural and technological advancements.

But for those sitting down for Thanksgiving to enjoy a much-anticipated feast, it’s possible you have a connection to the first settlers who braved the voyage to America.

Bill and Phil Cushman / The Cushman family

Issaquah resident Bill Cushman, who currently lives at Spiritwood at Pine Lake’s Village Concepts retirement center, and his brother, Phil, can tie their lineage 13 generations back to the man who gave the first documented sermon in America.

Their ancestor, Robert Cushman, was a business agent for the Plymouth colony, essentially serving as a financial liaison between investors who funded the trip to the New World and the first settlers. Cushman had intended on traveling with the Mayflower in 1620, but when the crew discovered the smaller ship was leaky, Cushman was forced to stay an additional year in England. He instead arrived at the colony in late 1621, according to the Cushman family, who have retold the story of life with the help of historical texts.

Once he arrived, he realized how dire the conditions were. Many of the pilgrims died on the voyage, and many more perished during the first winter. Cushman was only in America for a short time, but he delivered an impactful sermon entitled, The Sin and Danger of Self-Love, that’s been preserved through history and is thought to have lifted the spirits of the first settlers, encouraging them to dash their selfishness and work together.

Near the end of his lengthy sermon, he said: “Lay away all thought of former things and forget them, and think upon the things that are; look not gapingly one upon other, pleading your goodness, your birth, your life you lived, your means you had and might have had; here you are by God’s providence under difficulties; be thankful to God, it is no worse, and take it in good part that which is, and lift not up yourself because of former privileges…”

It’s believed that prior to his departure back to England, the group enjoyed a feast known as the Harvest Celebration, an English tradition that prefaced Thanksgiving.

Unfortunately for Cushman, he never returned to America. He died in England in 1625, likely from disease. His sermon was printed in England in 1622 and was reprinted in Boston in 1724.

According to a biographical sketch penned in 1846 by John Davis, late judge of the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts, Cushman “was one of the most distinguished characters among that collection of worthies, who quitted England on account of their religious difficulties…”

Cushman continues to be celebrated for his work with religious freedom. Cushman’s son eventually sailed to New England and, subsequently, some of the Cushmans built a life in modern Issaquah.

Sometimes the world feels so big, but we’re often reminded of how small it can be. Cushman’s sermon and biography can be found here.