The loss of three special young men fueled the dream to make Quiet Oaks a reality.
Three Souls Shaped A Dream
The story of Quiet Oaks Hospice House is a testament to the power of a vision and the strength of a community that came together to make a dream a reality. The story began in 2004 with three St. Cloud families who experienced the deaths of three special young men. These families, connected by their experiences with terminal illness, created a vision for a hospice house in Central Minnesota where individuals could experience comfort at the end of life and where their families could be freed from the fatigue of care giving. The vision of these three families has captured the hearts and commitment of the community and has manifested in the peaceful strength that is Quiet Oaks Hospice House.
In 2003, Dan Bauer, younger brother of Joe Bauer, died of colon cancer surrounded by his family and friends at his home. Despite efforts by Joe and his wife, Mary, to provide resources and support to Dan's family, the last weeks of Dan's life were very difficult for him, his seven children, and his wife who was his primary caregiver. After his death, Dan's family recognized that a few differences would have made his death easier for the family. More professional and consistent care to address his increasing physical needs, a more comfortable and private setting, and opportunities for Dan and his family to spend time together without the responsibilities of care giving were their realizations that inspired Joe's commitment to finding a better alternative
When Pat and Bob Brown's son, Luke, died in a hospice facility in Wisconsin, they experienced the alternative Joe and Mary were seeking. Luke was 24 years-old when he died of cancer in June of 2004. Pat and Bob were so impressed by the comfort and care Luke and their family received, that they decided to help bring a hospice house to Central Minnesota.
With the inspiration of Dave and Carol Neeser, with mentor Bob Solheim and his staff at the N.C. Little Memorial Hospice in Edina, MN, and with several other "believers," the groundswell of support for the vision had been planted. Mike and Sharon Bauerly, Steve and Trese Mareck, and the CentraCare Health Foundation provided $150,000 in start-up funds to move the project forward. Major efforts to gauge community support, form a board of directors, apply for non-profit status, create a strategic business plan and to search for a property for the hospice house began.
A chance meeting in December 2005, when Joe and Mary met Dan and Judy Whitlock, propelled the project even further. Dan and Judy's nineteen year-old nephew, Clay Malone, had recently passed away in a hospital because his care was no longer manageable in his family's home. When Dan and Judy learned of Joe and Mary's efforts, they took a special interest because of the experience of Clay and his family. In an act of faith and generosity, they gifted their home and ten acre property for the site of the hospice house. With the support of the Central Minnesota Community Foundation and the Minnesota Real Estate Foundation, and the approval of the newly formed Board of Directors, the Whitlock's gift became the home of Quiet Oaks Hospice House on April 12, 2006.
With the help of Dan and Judy and HBH Associates, Quiet Oaks Hospice House launched a $3 million capital campaign which would support the construction of eight resident suites, provide operational funds, and establish an endowment. The next two years were marked by extensive fundraising efforts. The (former) Whitlock home became a showcase for a constant flow of visitors who experienced the beauty of the home, gardens and serene oak woods. Community members heard the Quiet Oaks story and wanted to become involved through their gifts of time, talent, and funds. In November of 2006, the Morgan Family Foundation contributed $250,000 towards the construction efforts and this grant was matched by generous donors within six weeks. With an in-kind commitment from Winkelman Building Corporation for the project's management, construction of the new resident addition began in December of 2007. Upon learning about the project, many sub-contractors contributed labor and materials valued at more than $300,000.
The story of Quiet Oaks Hospice House cannot be told without the incredible efforts of volunteers who believed in the dream. From May 2006 through September 2008, hundreds of volunteers of all ages joined forces to care for the home, introduce the project to the community, and create systems for operation. Quiet Oaks could not have happened without their commitment and dedication during this development phase of the project.
Quiet Oaks is an example of what can happen with a dream, hard work, and faith. With the support and assistance of steadfast donors, volunteers and dedicated staff, Quiet Oaks Hospice House opened in October of 2008. The short history of how this dream came into fruition continues to amaze and bless those involved. The remarkable spirit at Quiet Oaks not only draws families to its beauty, it also provides them comfort and inspires hope. Its history and future make it a sacred place where compassion, care and comfort can be provided to those who need it most.