Kissito PACE opens with great awareness in Roanoke

Willie Amos pulls busOver 175 community members and state dignitaries made the drive over to Kissito PACE in Roanoke to witness a rather unconventional grand opening. Speakers included Terry Smith of the Department of Medical Assistance Services, House of Delgates member Onzlee Ware of the 11th district, global anti-poverty pioneer Cabell Brand, Tom Clarke CEO of Kissito, and Sean Pressman Executive Director Kissito PACE. The theme and the message was heard loud and clear: PACE is the alternative to a nursing home and our seniors now have the option and the services available to them to age in place in their home and community.

Kissito PACE TeamThe day started off when Sean Pressman warned everybody that “Kissito was a non-conventional organization and the grand opening they chose to attend would be a non-conventional break through event.” Boy was was he right. Willie Amos the the 11th strongest man in the world strapped on a harness and started the event by pulling the 28,000 pound Kissito PACE participant bus single-handedly out from in front of the PACE center entrance.

Speakers then went one by one touting their own personal experience and beliefs about how PACE is the answer to remaining safely in the community for seniors. Cabell Brand, founder TAP at the ripe age of 90 spoke eloquently about the need for PACE and the pleasure he feels now that he knows the communities of Southwest Virginia finally have all inclusive care for their seniors. Terry Smith and her team from the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services spoke of the importance PACE has in the healthcare system and how PACE is the only coordinated care for the elderly that is local and not fragmented. Tom Clarke CEO of Kissito spoke of the journey and the passion it took to get the reality of PACE and thanked many individuals and teams that made it all possible.

willie breaks through wallJust when you thought all 175 were headed for a ribbon cutting and something to eat inside the Kissito PACE center, Wham-O! Willie Amos comes crashing through a 7 foot cinder block wall with words spray painted on it that symbolized the barriers that existed up until now for seniors to be able to receive the coordinated services they need to remain safely in their homes.

Busted up cinder blocks littered the ground. Everybody was in shock and awe of the spectacle. Symbolic blocks and pieces were scooped up by dignitaries and guests alike as a memento of the occasion.

The event wrapped up with tours and delicious catered food, photo opps and media interviews. A great time was had by all.

Here is the TV coverage:

WSLS News Channel 10

WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

WDBJ 7 News

What’s In a Name? When It Comes to Kissito Village, Everything

Naming, or renaming things, changes them. It defines them. Names can determine our character and our future. Native Americans named their children after observing something that happened at the time of their birth thus: Running Deer, Kneeling Bull, or New Moon. Nicknames bestowed on us by our friends often highlight some aspect of our strengths or character, often forcing us to live up to the name. Biblical and religious names are carefully chosen in order to ensure an infant lives up to their destiny—God instructed Mary and Joseph what to call their son, and throughout the Bible told characters what to name their children. Names are powerful things, capable of changing a person, or even a building.

KissitoVillage CommMtgOn Saturday Oct. 5, Kissito renamed Hawthorne Towers, once a name synonymous with crime, filth, decay and poverty. They christened the towers “Kissito Village,” a name Kissito CEO Tom Clarke equates with community, hope, security and family.

Clarke told a group of approximately 50 residents that the name was taken from Kissito’s work in Africa.

“We’ve learned from Africa that it takes a village to accomplish anything of importance,” he said. “So that’s why we’re calling this Kissito Village. It will take all of us to make this our village our home.”
Clarke also explained that Kissito’s experiences around the world suggest there are better ways of caring for the frail elderly, disabled and financially challenged in America, other than through institutional settings such as nursing homes. The 1884 house was Kissito’s first Roanoke venture into affordable housing. They’re also working with the University of Texas and Harris Health System to establish a community-based program of care for the elderly in the Riverside District of the City of Houston. They closed on the purchase of Hawthorne Towers, making Kissito Village their next community based project. The property will be senior friendly but not age restricted. Rent is expected to be around HUD levels $345/month before utilities.
While not all elders can be safely cared for in a community setting, a significant number of those currently institutionalized want to—and could thrive in the community, if adequate services were available to them. Clarke said Kissito has learned that institutionalization rates can be half of the U.S. average with the right programs and housing in place.
All new landscaping has been installed at Kissito VillageResidents agreed, cheering, clapping and jumping up to ask questions and engage with Clarke and John Surprenant, the CEO of JMS Building, the company doing the Kissito Village building renovations.
Deborah Williams smiled, laughed, clapped her hands and wiped tears from her eyes as Clarke spoke. She said she loved the idea of the building being a village. Williams doesn’t currently live in the building, but her brother, George Turner, has been a resident for seven years. She visits him regularly. Both she and her other brother, Richard Turner, want to move into the building as well. The move would not only provide affordable housing, it would bring their family together again, proof that Kissito Village was living up to its new name.

Williams was a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) at Salem Health Nursing Home for eight years. She said she was laid off due to a disability and now spends much of her time visiting her brother George at the building.

Elizabeth Wright, a very elderly Kissito Village resident sitting with Williams, and Shapla Maden, a 22-year-old woman were happy to hear that every unit in the building will receive new appliances, including a full-sized refrigerator, new floors, ceilings, paint jobs and air conditioning.

Kissito Village and Kissito now own 144 apartment units. It’s not just Kissito Village Clarke is excited about. Kissito was officially approved to enroll seniors over the age of 55 into their PACE organization, allowing them to help seniors age in place, live independently, and transition out of the nursing home and back to the community.
As beautiful and comfortable as so many in the Roanoke Valley are, there are still hundreds of seniors living in nursing homes that have been abandoned, have no one to care for them, or who can’t maintain their homes due to age, infirmity or poverty.
The numbers just don’t add up, Josh McGilliard, Vice President of Business Development said.
“In Oregon and AZ about 1.7% of all people over the age of 65 are institutionalized in a nursing home. In Virginia that number is 3.4%. That means it is entirely possible that over half of the long term care nursing home residents could transition back into their community if not for the lack of affordable housing and coordinated services to keep them safe…until now. Kissito has a solution. By using their Money Follows the Person (MFP) transition coordinator status, PACE, and the newly acquired 144 apartments in Kissito Village, formerly Hawthorne Towers; a person could transition out of a nursing home, return to their community safely, live in their own affordable apartment, and have all the healthcare needs coordinated and delivered by PACE.”
New name. New PACE Center. New days dawning. Change takes a village and now Kissito has one.

Kissito 1884 House

Kissito Healthcare is a Non-Profit organization involved with many socioeconomic issues in our community. Kissito’s experience with servicing the elderly has led to the creation of the Kissito 1884 House. Kissito saw this house as a window of opportunity that could provide affordable housing as an alternative to nursing homes. Within this community-based home, residents will be able to keep their independence, yet participate in activities with other members. The Kissito 1884 House is located at 301 Gilmer Ave., Roanoke, VA 24016. This central site is only five minutes away from downtown (driving), with great local attractions such as museums, restaurants, the farmers’ market, etc.

The Kissito 1884 House was acquired in challenging conditions. Kissito completed renovations (including new appliances) to make the building more livable and home-felt for the elderly. With a window of opportunity having been opened, the opportunities are endless. Through this project, we are hoping to also create more involvement in the neighborhood, as well as aid from other organizations for the development of new amenities.

The residents of the neighborhood are hard-working, proud, warm, and caring people who will embrace and welcome the elderly community at the Kissito 1884 House.

1884 House New Kitchen

The pictures to the right show some of the renovations that JMS Builders has done to the building. The house will host 16 people of 65 years of age or older, that do not wish to enter a nursing home. Each apartment has two bedrooms in which 2 individuals will be paired up (unless they already have someone with whom they would like to share the apartment). This will allow them both to split water and electric bills. Other bills such as phone, cable, and internet will have to be discussed between the residents of the unit. The cost per bedroom is $345 per month. We are excited to see all the renovations coming to an end, and getting closer to the big opening. We are now accepting applications.


Kissito and Fork in the City Restaurant Explore a PhilantroPub in Roanoke, VA

Fork in the City Restaurant Downtown Roanoke Virginia


Tom Clarke, CEO of Kissito Healthcare and David Trinkle, Owner of Fork in the City Restaurant, were recently interviewed by a local Roanoke publication about their plans to partner together to bring Roanoke their very first “PhilanthroPub”. The idea is to take a staple restaurant location in downtown Roanoke and create a business model that allows for the profits to flow through to local non-profit organizations.

Read the entire story

Virginia pastors to build church in Africa

Photo by: April ParsonsPastor Tony (left) with his delegation at the Butiru Cristco health center in Manafwa, Uganda.

Photo by: April Parsons
Pastor Tony (left) with his delegation at the Butiru Crisco health center in Manafwa, Uganda.

Almost a year ago, Tony, a pastor at New Life Christian Ministries, a church in Roanoke Virginia, decided to take a trip to Uganda with KHI President Tom Clarke. It was a trip that would inevitably change his life.

Ten months later he is on his second trip, along with five other pastors from Virginia, and they are making preparations to build a church.

“I really felt like God was calling me here,” said Pastor Tony. “There is so much good that can be done here, and I am really excited to see God’s plan for the work in Uganda.”

Pastor Tony has partnered with the Butiru Chrisco health center, only a few miles away from the KHI run Bugobero health center, as a foundation and home base for their work. At the same time, Kissito has also signed MOUs with the health center and will soon be putting our health system strengthening tactics in place.

“It’s a really great partnership,” said Pastor Tony, during a visit to the site. “Kissito will be working on saving lives physically, and we’ll be saving lives spiritually.”

In Uganda 83.9 percent of people consider themselves to be Christian, so there is always a need for churches.

The hospital grounds also have living quarters, where both missionary groups as well as health care groups will be able to stay when they come to visit.

Kissito is already working on revamping their health center, and in July of this year Pastor Tony and his group will be back to start the actual building of the health center!

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