RNJ News Department

Heath Village retirement community celebrates 50 years

Washington Township, N.J. (Morris County)– Established in October 1966, Heath Village is proud to be celebrating its 50th Anniversary.

“When I first had the idea for a housing community dedicated to the elderly, people thought I was crazy, but I was not to be dissuaded. I knew it was the right thing to do. Seniors needed a place like Heath Village to call home,” said founder, The Reverend Clarence W. Sickles when asked about the early days when Heath Village was just a dream. “Back then, I couldn’t envision what it is today. It has far exceeded what I had in mind.”

Thanks to Reverend Sickles’ vision and perseverance and the hard work of several other dedicated community leaders, Heath Village stands today as the second oldest senior living community in New Jersey. Tucked away in the hills of Washington Township, Morris County, the unique retirement community is home to approximately 350 residents. Of those 350, about 200 live in independent apartments and the remaining residents live in one of Heath Village’s two licensed areas.

A not-for-profit, Heath Village’s Board of Trustees throughout its 50 years has remained dedicated to its mission for providing retired persons with a living environment that fosters a meaningful life with security, dignity, fellowship and personal and spiritual well-being. To serve this purpose and the ever growing need for senior housing, board members and staff have helped develop Heath Village from a 46.2 acre community in 1966 with only five apartment areas and minimal healthcare services to one with ten miniature neighborhoods totaling 154 independent apartments and 10 cottages spread out across the now 100+ acre campus. They have also overseen the development of its 39 bed residential health care facility – Mayflower House – and its 99-bed skilled nursing center – The Clarence W. Sickles Health Care Center.

In addition to its beautiful campus, Heath Village has established many different traditions, activities and clubs that encourage residents to remain active and help meet their social, physical and intellectual interests. Village socials, live musical entertainment, a bocce league, sewing clubs, Wii bowling, and the iPad club are just a few of the activities residents enjoy. Also offered are exercise classes such as Zumba, Pilates, and yoga or residents can use the fitness center. Long-standing traditions such as the annual Benefit Gala, Family Day, and Christmas Tea, as well as some new ones like the summer Mystery Trip, are all eagerly awaited by residents.

In 1991, Heath Village established its Pen Pal program with the Friendship Center, the Intergenerational Child Care center located on the Village campus. This unique program is extremely popular among our residents. “Enjoying young children, interacting with them, their exuberance and spontaneity brings pleasure, smiles and helps me stay young at heart,” said Patricia Taylor, a long-time Pen Pal and Center volunteer.

“The Heath Village story has been a great one. Achieving this significant milestone stands as a great testament to many dedicated individuals who have played important roles in Heath Village’s 50 year history,” said Patrick Brady, Heath Village Executive Director. “It has been an honor to serve the senior population and we look forward to an exciting future that includes the 2017 groundbreaking of a new, state-of-the-art health care center and, ultimately, a new independent senior living cottage community,” said Brady.

The evolution of the campus and the facilities are only one part of the Heath Village story, the residents and their commitment to fellowship is the other. Heath Village wouldn’t be what it is today without our residents who from the very beginning have served as partners in creating a vibrant community they are proud to call home. Beginning as early as December 1966, the residents created the Residents’ Council that plays an important role in the stewardship of Heath Village. “We will always be thankful for the Sickles and their foresight in founding Heath Village,” said Barbara Hall, current Council President.

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