Driving commitment to meeting human need and offering hospitality to those we serve.
At Pioneer, the work of the church is extended as we minister to human needs through the PioneerCare Center, PioneerCare Suites, Pioneer Pointe, Pioneer Cottages, PioneerLink and wherever our mission of human caring takes place. Our shared ministry with our sponsoring congregations strengthens the whole church as each of us offers our unique talents for the purpose of helping others in our communities.
A group of pastors and other community leaders conceived the idea of a new way to support older adults. Pioneer Memorial Home would become the first such provider in Otter Tail County.
Following two years of planning, fundraising and building, Pioneer Memorial Home was established with pioneer congregations of Bethlehem, First, and Zion Lutheran Churches.
Founders identified a building site at 1006 South Sheridan in Fergus Falls. They chose Architect E.O. Braaten to design the building. J.P. Johnson was hired to build the new home.
The board of directors hired Mrs. Hilda O. Slind as Pioneer’s first superintendent, with a starting salary of $100 per month.
The first residents of Pioneer Memorial Home moved in on October 7, 1928.
Mrs. Slind initiated interest in starting a Ladies’ Aide society to benefit Pioneer residents. The Sunshine Society held its first organizational meeting on June 26. Members paid monthly dues of 15 cents and prepared at least one article to be sold at the fall sale.
With Pioneer Memorial Home filled to capacity (30 residents), the board of directors discussed building additional resident rooms. Pastor Aasen spoke in favor of soliciting funds for a new addition “while there is an abundance of money among our people.”
Pioneer completed the first addition to the original building in 1953 for $130,000, adding 31 beds. The expansion included a multipurpose space for dining, socializing and worship.
Pastor A.T. Tjornhom became Pioneer’s first chaplain. His appointment served to solidify Pioneer’s relationship with the church while welcoming all.
At the age of 56, Lillian Saure joined Pioneer as its first licensed administrator. She served in that capacity until she retired in 1975.
The Pioneer 100 group assembled to raise funds to defray ever increasing operating costs and pay down the loan from an earlier construction project.
Strong community support allowed Pioneer to expand further in the 1970s. Construction was completed on Pioneer Home’s south unit in 1971, adding 33 private rooms.
The project also included a new chapel, sun room, dining room, administrative offices and front lobby.
After conferring with his daughter and son, John Dieseth decided to support the building of a chapel at Pioneer in memory of his wife, Ellen, who died at Pioneer in July 1969. John served on Pioneer’s board of directors at the time.
During her stay, we learned to know and love the home from a point of view new to us, the warmth and concern of an efficient staff and the feeling it gave of a true home.
– The Dieseth Family
Carmon Jackson joined Pioneer as administrator in May 1978 and continued until his retirement in December 1996. During his tenure, Pioneer saw expanded diversity of services, the formation of both the Foundation and Auxiliary, and construction of Pioneer Pointe.
The Pioneer Auxiliary began in 1984. While continuing the call of the Sunshine Society, the Pioneer Auxiliary has broadened its scope to include hosting events and expanding fundraising activities to benefit Pioneer residents.
Pioneer saw a new source of support through the forming of Pioneer Home Foundation. The Foundation would grow continuously to support the mission through generous donations, grants, and legacy gifts. The Foundation currently manages close to $1 million in assets.
Following the ELCA merger, Augustana and Hope Lutheran Churches became sponsoring congregations, joining Bethlehem, First, and Zion. Delegates from each congregation would continue to serve as voting members of the organization.
Under Carmon Jackson’s leadership, Pioneer completed a strategic plan to expand and diversify services. The plan led to construction of Pioneer Pointe, expanding Pioneer’s housing options to include 44 apartments for housing with services.
John Richards took the helm as Pioneer’s administrator.
Construction began on the first of Pioneer Cottages Memory Care to specialize in serving people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of memory loss. Two additional cottages were built in subsequent years.
Pioneer Cottages opened in Breckenridge, Minnesota, expanding Pioneer’s approach for memory care to that community.
Pioneer held groundbreaking ceremonies for PioneerCare Center at 1131 Mabelle Avenue on November 10.
PioneerLink, a service providing home-based technology solutions, was launched in January.
In a parade led by grand marshals and the high school band, PioneerCare Center residents and staff moved to the new care center on Mabelle Avenue on the morning of May 2.
Nathan Johnson became Chief Executive Officer of PioneerCare.
Citing underuse and high maintenance costs, PioneerCare’s board of directors approved deconstruction of buildings at the original site on Sheridan Street.
Fergus Falls was not spared the effects of the SARS CoV-2 (Covid-19) global pandemic. Careful adherence to infection prevention measures kept the virus from entering PioneerCare’s living settings until July 2020. Through spread in the community, it was inevitable that Covid-19 would find its way in. Still, residents and staff showed courage, resilience, and focus to continue the fight against this potentially deadly disease.
As a non-profit provider since its inception, PioneerCare has been enriched with a Christ-centered purpose that still drives its commitment to meeting human need and offering hospitality to those we serve.