Celebrating 50 years at Fair Haven

Commerce Secretary offers congratulations
May. 13, 2014 @ 05:00 AM

With the sounds of classical music in the background provided by members of the Rutherford Chamber Consort, the 50th anniversary of Fair Haven Home was observed Saturday.

More than 100 visitors gathered at Fair Haven — facilities for senior care — located off US 74 near Ellenboro, during the two hour reception. They gathered in the living room area for a brief program. Administrator Suzanne Hensley spoke on behalf of owner, Mack McKeithan, who attended but was under the weather.

Secretary of Commerce Sharon Decker of Rutherfordton and Raleigh stopped by offering congratulations and best wishes on behalf of the State to McKeithan, his wife Pam,their sons Charlie and Dan McKeithan and other family members.

Mack's mother, Iris McKeithan, founded the rest home with 32 beds 50 years ago. The facility has grown aggressively and owners and staff are looking toward the vision for the future of health care for senior citizens.

Decker told the family less than 10 percent of family-owned businesses survive to three generations.

"We're proud of you," Decker said."You have seen a need that needs to be met. Thanks for the commitment of care."

Decker said as she travels across North Carolina she has an opportunity to go into small businesses and congratulate owners for what they are doing in their communities and the difference they are making for those around them.

She applauded the McKeithans for their leadership role in the care of senior citizens and for providing jobs for more than 80 people.

She also thanked the family for its continued vision to grow the facility from a 32-bed facility to the senior care complex it is today.

Decker told the family and staff, "Don't underestimate the visions in the 50 years of business. . .in this Christ-centered facility where there is care and love shown."

Decker said the McKeithans have raised the bar in providing greater health care and Fair Haven is a model for others.

She said as the State continues to help create jobs in communities there are five things necessary to produce more jobs;good health care, education, economic development that will recruit businesses by the people who are doing the right things, tourism and quality of life, environment,relationships and sense of community.

She thanked the McKeithans and the staff for the sense of community as they help care for the senior citizens.

Hensley told visitors,"50 years in business is not an easy accomplishment. This celebration takes place today because of hard work and dedication from many individuals." 

"This business has been built from the very beginning based on Biblical principles. Our name, Fair Haven, comes from the Bible. Our purpose has been to maintain Biblical principles in every aspect of this company. It is through the leadership of individuals, who have prayed for and allowed God to guide them, that Fair Haven stands as strong as it does today," Hensley said. " There has been blood, sweat and tears, trials and tribulations, however, more than any of that there has been enormous blessings which comes from serving our residents each day. It takes a team working together led by a strong and confident leader to accomplish 50 years of service to our community."

Hensley thanked McKeithan and the team for its Christian values and high moral standards, intelligence, understanding of the human nature, forgiveness"and a lot of humor." 

She said Fair Haven is where it is today because of McKeithan's "vision for the future." 

Fair Haven is the only independently owned rest home in Rutherford County. It is also the smallest and has an annual payroll of $2 million.

"It is part of the fabric of Rutherford County that has been woven together over 50 years," Hensley said.

She shared the history of Fair Haven, beginning with 32 beds, then expanding to 37 beds. The care was expanded further as the Eastwood Village Retirement Community was begun on 16 adjoining acres. In the mid 1980s, 30 beds were added to the skilled nursing care.

Fair Haven looks to the future and hopes to begin the Green House Project by 2015. The Green House concept comes from Dr. Bill Thomas, the founder of the Eden Alternative (promoting quality of life for seniors wherever they live).

His philosophy is to provide a “real home” for elders with a meaningful life and empowered staff, Hensley explained. 

The focus is on choice, control, autonomy and the development and maintenance of relationships within each home. 

"We feel our principles and values line up with the Green House philosophy and look forward to launching our project," Hensley said.

Fair Haven's Green House Project will include homes with 11 beds each. There will be eight rehabilitation beds in the first building.

There are 23 states which have Green House homes and we hope to be the very first in North Carolina," Hensley said. 

"We have a lot of work ahead of us, we are facing many regulatory roadblocks," Hensley continued. "Nursing Homes are the most highly regulated businesses in the world. We face the challenge of providing quality care for our elders while maintaining the regulations set forth by not only North Carolina but the federal government, as well."