By JOHN FLOWERS
SALISBURY — Shard Villa trustees will not proceed with their previously stated direction of closing the elder care facility this fall. They will instead explore fund raising and other avenues through which they hope to keep the stately, 19th-century mansion in the senior care business for years to come.
In July trustees announced that Shard Villa — a historic landmark and one of the state’s oldest senior care facilities — would likely close its doors on Nov. 1. Trustees explained that soaring heating fuel costs and mounting upkeep expenses were making it very difficult for Shard Villa to remain solvent. The 130-year-old mansion in West Salisbury serves around a dozen elderly residents, many of them in their 90s.
But trustees, at a Sept. 7 meeting with staff and client families, confirmed they are now shifting their focus to keeping Shard Villa’s senior care facility open.
“The Trustees of Shard Villa in West Salisbury announced to staff and families this week that the villa will not be closing on Nov. 1,” reads a statement released to the Addison Independent on Monday by Shard Villa Board of Trustees Chairwoman Diane Benware. “The trustees are seeking alternatives that may be available and several board members are part of a task force being convened by the Preservation Trust of Vermont. The task force will conduct a feasibility study to explore what options may be available that will allow trustees to further the mission of the trust. A capital needs assessment is under way, and an energy audit of the structure will be handled by Efficiency Vermont.”
Benware added the task force will make its recommendations to the full board by the end of the year. In addition, a small working group of board members and family members will be focusing on fund-raising efforts.
Several board members are attending a workshop hosted by the Preservation Trust of Vermont that is devoted to the topic of fund-raising.
Benware, during a brief telephone interview, confirmed that Shard Villa had recently been approached with a few “offers of assistance. We are investigating that right now.”
Some family members present at the Sunday meeting said brainstorming is already under way to find new resources for Shard Villa. Establishing a Shard Villa Web site, applying for grants and raising client rates are among options being considered, according to Kathy Bushey, whose 89-year-old mother lives at Shard Villa.
Bushey said she is pleased that trustees are now backing away from closing the senior care facility. She and other family members weren’t keen on the prospect of relocating their loved ones at the dawn of winter.
“We were all upset,” Bushey said, adding families hadn’t been given a say prior to the original focus on closing the facility.
“I think it is really a unique place,” she added. “It is a real community. I’m certainly hoping it will stay open.”
Board member Kate Gieges agreed.
“We are going to pull together and focus on some immediate fund-raising efforts,” Gieges said, adding she was “very appreciative of the number of family members” who were at the Sept. 7 meeting.