YOUNGSTOWN - Shepherd of the Valley continued its year-long 40th anniversary celebration on Sunday by saying thank you to some who have been a part of the senior housing and service company's success.
A dinner and prayer service was held at Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church on Canfield Road for board members, donors and supporters.
As about 75 people filled their plates and gathered in the main hall, past and current Shepherd of the Valley leadership as well as regional Lutheran leaders came together to reflect on the company's humble beginnings and its growth into one of the area's largest senior services providers.
Tribune Chronicle / Dan Pompili
Shepherd of the Valley Board Chairman Dennis Parks speaks to a group of supporters on Sunday at Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in Youngstown. A dinner and prayer service was held to mark the senior housing and service company’s 40th anniversary celebration.
"A lot of the people here were around to start Shepherd of the Valley in 1971 and 1972," said Executive Director Don Kacmar. "With them, before there was a building, there was an idea."
That idea began with a meeting on March 14, 1971, at Martin Luther Church in Youngstown, recalled Ernie Sigle, who served as the second board chairman in 1974-75. He and the Rev. Gary Schreckengost remembered holding early steering committee meetings in a basement room that used to be a speakeasy and still boasted pictures of ladies on the walls.
They took the guests through the growing pains of conceiving the idea, drafting a plan, obtaining funding and support and finally building its first home in Niles.
From there, it added locations in Boardman, Howland and Poland, according to its website, to offer independent and assisted living, skilled nursing, and rehabilitation services for more than 600 residents. In 1997, the company added in-home care.
"Thousand have been served because of the efforts of faithful people like yourselves," Schreckengost said.
Current board chairman, Dennis Parks talked about the 1990s expansion projects and everything right up to the building of its Howland facility.
He said it would take far too long to recount all the additions and expansions and improvements, but said his 12 years with Shepherd have been rewarding.
"It's truly a treasure to our area as it continues to serve our senior citizens and our community," he said.
Following the featured speakers, guests were welcomed into the worship center for a prayer service. The Zion Lutheran Church Choir led them in a few songs as they offered prayers of thanks for continued prosperity in the decades to come.
Pastor Ronald Young of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod offered congratulations and gratitude. While the Rev. Elizabeth Eaton of the Northeast Ohio Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America offered encouragement and blessings.
"Happy 40th anniversary, Shepherd of the Valley. May God continue to bless your work and may this continue to be a place of refuge," she said.