By JAMES BELL
VICTORIA—Almost two years ago, a meeting to discuss the future of the former St. John’s Rest Home was conducted in front of the almost 40,000-square-foot facility. Out of that meeting, and many others since area residents were happy to share memories of the facility, but more importantly, ideas for its future.
Since the Victoria Community Coalition, now the owner of the building, the project has received grants totaling over $1.35 million from the state and the Dane G. Hansen Foundation in order to revitalize the facility to be used for housing, daycare and a satellite campus for the Ellis County Historical Society.
More recently, Schmidt Foundation president Gary Shorman pledged another $100,000 match pledge to the project, contingent on a match from fundraising within the community by November.
That was July. By the end of August, the coalition had already raised the full amount from the community.
Shorman recently presented a $100,000 check to coalition president Jeff Pfeifer in front of an assembled crowd at the building, praising the coalition’s hard work and enthusiasm.
“We had strong leadership from [coalition vice president] Brenda Dreiling in the fundraising department,” Pfeifer said. “And the community responded exceptionally well. This whole project has been about the community. And their support has always exceeded my expectations.”
While community support had been with the project from the beginning, prior to the award, financial support from within the community had been minimal, but he was “pleasantly surprised” that the community stepped up financially as well.
We were “just tickled pink that the community supports this, not only with their time but their resources as well,” Pfeifer said.
“I'm always appreciative of the VCC board members and the community.”
And while the recent support will help keep the project moving forward, he said the coalition continues sourcing additional funds in an effort to raise the estimated $3 million that would allow for the completion of phase 1 of the project.
Phase 1 includes 11 apartments, common areas, a new north entrance, parking and childcare space.
“We've got one more grant we're applying for,” Pfeifer said. “We're hoping to get some support from the Patterson Family Foundation by the end of the year. And we are moving forward with architecture, detailed design construction documents.”
He said the coalition hopes to begin construction next year. To take advantage of one grant from the state of Kansas, apartments must be completed by April 2025.
For more information about the project, visit the coalition website, victoriakscommunity.com.