Our Journey

May 19, 2016, was a historic moment for our newly formed nonprofit, The Open Arms House. The Board of Directors celebrated the closure of escrow on the home at 3234 W. Iris Street and embarked on the licensure path to prepare for the opening of this home to care for the dying.

The path to a local end-of-life care home is revealed

In the fall of 2014, the “social model” hospice home was discovered. Five members of the Kaweah Delta Hospice Foundation Board visited Our Community House of Hope in Thousand Oaks and Sarah House in Santa Barbara, the only 2 homes of this kind in the state of California. We came back inspired and with a conviction,“We can do this in Visalia!”

With over $1 million in the Hospice Foundation account just waiting for this opportunity and the affordability of the social model home, we started to make a plan. Our unnamed home could not be an exclusive Kaweah Delta Hospice entity because it would have contracts with all the hospice organizations in Kings and Tulare counties, thus broadening the reach to those in need of a home in which to die.

The project is started

A small group began meeting early in 2015 and the name “Open Arms” was adopted. “Arms” is used synonymously with the word “inn,” as in a place to stay. The phrase “open arms” also suggests accepting of all.

Quick progress is made

After attending the third annual Social Model Hospice Network Conference in Tulsa, OK, in July 2015, we started the process. Fairly quickly, we appointed a board of directors, wrote bylaws, became incorporated, filed and received a 501(c)(3) non-profit designation and opened a bank account with an early $2,000 donation.

Kaweah Delta Hospice Foundation Board steps up

The Kaweah Delta Hospice Foundation Board had the money to fund a house. Once their bylaws were amended to allow money to be contributed for hospice-related activities outside of Kaweah Delta ownership, we started looking for a house.

A house is found

newIn short order we found a house that felt just right: a good location, an open floor plan, wide hallway, 3 large bedrooms, plenty of parking and a spacious lot with room for expansion.

So now the real work begins

Next is approval of remodel plans by the city with construction and landscaping to follow. A Residential Care Facility for the Elderly (RCFE) license must be obtained, which takes at least 5 to 6 months. A marketing plan must be implemented. Board governance policies must be created and approved. Fundraising begins, budgets are established, job descriptions approved, and the list goes on.

The following was written by Ruth’s beloved Harry, on the occasion of the Open House in June 2016:

Ruth Dunagan Wood moved to Visalia in 1978 and began her work as a stock bro ker.

In 1985 she accepted the invitation of Dr. NagenBellare, an oncologist, to serve on a committee to provide hospice care in Visalia. In the years that followed, Ruth involved herself in many community activities but considered hospice one of the most important contributions she made.

Through the largesse of her long-time friend, Marybeth Seay, and the generosity of the community, The Ruth Wood Open Arms Home will be Visalia’s first hospice home, and a memorial to Ruth’s Christian grace and southern hospitality.

Friend, she would encourage you with the words that sustained her:

“Cast your cares upon him, for he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7