The year was 1963. Valley View Village opened on June 1 in Des Moines, IA.
The community featured a 98-unit apartment building, 28-room health center and eight cottages with four units each—along with a library, kitchen, dining room, and chapel—a $1.5 million investment in total.
Much has changed over the past 60 years, but the commitment to those who call Valley View home has not waivered.
Polly Crume and the Chaplain
At the time, the units had no locks, but one dedicated employee provided security.
“Polly used to sleep behind the front counter,” Administrator Stephanie Proper says. “She was security and would answer the phones.”
Other staff included a chaplain who served as the administrator, in addition to providing spiritual guidance to all. He was the first of 10 chaplains who have served the community, though that job description has shifted over the years.
Changing and Growing
Situated on 16 acres, there was plenty of room for expansion, and that’s exactly what happened. Within eight years, Valley View added 11 more cottages. Five years later, Valley View added more rooms to its health center.
Fast-forward to 1993, when Valley View added The Manor independent living apartments.
The new millennium brought even more change. In 2010, Valley View demolished some cottages to make room for a new assisted living building. A new health center replaced the original building in 2016.
Stephanie says Valley View is more than just buildings.
“We have our own community,” she said. “It’s like its own neighborhood … We have yards and flower beds and space for people. That’s not always available at other places.”
People Make the Difference
Throughout Valley View’s history, there have been many longtime employees, including a number of mainstays over the past several decades. (We’ll share a staff feature in the near future.)
Stephanie appreciates the teamwork her staff exhibit.
“Everybody works as a team, not just each department as a silo, but interdisciplinary,” she says. “Most people can see the end goal. Everything is interconnected. That benefits staff when they realize that. We don’t want one person to fail. If one does, we all do. We have to work together to provide the best care possible.”
Many generations of the same families have called Valley View home.
“We’ve had several generations of Polly’s family,” Stephanie says as an example.
It wasn’t just Polly’s family, though.
“We’ve been able to take care of generations of families,” Stephanie said. “We had someone here who passed away. Her grandparents, her parents, and she and her husband all lived here. Her kids say, ‘We’ll see you later.’”
Trust is a Big Deal
Valley View is a staple in the Fairmont Park neighborhood, with many of the neighborhood’s residents having loved ones there at one time or another, Stephanie says.
That means a lot to the staff.
“It’s such an honor that people put their trust in Valley View and come back decade after decade,” Stephanie says.
Why does she believe that is the case?
“We provide good care and have people who legitimately care about what they’re doing,” she says. “ … People feel they are taken care of and they are. We’ve worked very hard to build trust with people. You are going to be treated like family and taken care of very well.”
Speaking of family, Stephanie trusts Valley View to take care of hers. She has a loved one residing in the community now and her late grandmother lived there for a number of years.
“I trust my family to be here,” she says. “If I trust my family to be here, you should trust your family to be here, too.”