(Chelsea Update would like to thank Lisa French for the information in this story.)
The United Methodist Retirement Communities (UMRC) Foundation Board voted unanimously on Aug. 12 to make a gift of $7,500 each to the Chelsea and Ypsilanti Meals on Wheels programs to honor and remember the legacy of long-time Chelsea pillar and former UMRC Foundation Board Chair, Ann Feeney.
Feeney, who passed away on July 27, 2020, served the UMRC Foundation Board from 2010 to 2016.
“I first met Ann Feeney while I was serving as the local leader of Ele’s Place,” says Wendy Brightman, now president of UMRC Foundation and Porter Hills Foundation, with headquarters in Chelsea in a press release. “Ann was warm and kind and tough as nails, all at the same time. She became a dear friend and trusted advisor to me.”
When Brightman came to UMRC, she was delighted to learn she would get to serve with Ann again.
Feeney had a long history of service to older adults in the community through Meals on Wheels. For many of those years, the food was prepared in the kitchen of UMRC’s Chelsea Retirement Community campus. “Ann served meals and care to homebound older adults for more than 43 years,” says Brightman. “No matter the weather, Ann knew she was their lifeline, their faith leader, and their friend.”
As Feeney visited residents on the Chelsea Retirement Community campus, she noticed a challenge that she was able to remedy: she began sewing cloth bags that residents could attach to their walkers to carry things from place to place. “I have no idea how many bags she made over the years and would guess she had no idea how many she made either,” says Brightman. “She wasn’t one to seek compliments – she simply saw a need and found a solution.”
A pillar of the community, Feeney served the Chelsea Board of Education and became Chelsea’s first mayor in 2004. Her passion for older adults also led her to serve on the UMRC Foundation Board for six years and as its chair from 2012 to 2014.
“Serving with Ann in ‘her’ town of Chelsea was magical,” says Brightman. “During her board service to the UMRC Foundation, UMRC opened the new Dancey House common spaces, including the Fireside Grille and a well-stocked library. We constructed Glazier Commons, a new assisted living community on our Chelsea campus; created beautiful resident cutting gardens; and brought our faith-based services back to the older adults of Detroit with the opening of The Thome Rivertown Neighborhood Assisted Living and low-income apartments.”
Current UMRC Foundation Board Chair Marianne Conner, says Feeney was a wonderful role model for her. “I consider it a great privilege to have served on the UMRC Foundation Board with Ann Feeney. She was a strong leader who kept everything on track, but would gently remind us of how important our work is to provide for seniors in our community. Ann will be missed for all the guidance she has provided the UMRC Foundation over the years.”
Inspired and encouraged by Feeney’s passion for serving older adults, over the next five years the UMRC Foundation raised over $35 million in donor support as part of its Growing to Serve campaign. Results of this campaign include expanding the Kresge Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center at UMRC’s historic Chelsea campus, launching the Positive Approach® to Care dementia training for care partners at Towsley Village Memory Care Center, unveiling the UMRC Foundation’s Staff Scholarship and Emergency Aid programs, expanding UMRC’s Benevolent Care program for qualified residents, and helping fund the construction of Huron Valley PACE (Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly) in Ypsilanti and Thome PACE in Jackson.
“I could walk through any issue or concern with Ann,” says Brightman. “Her guidance came from a place of faith-filled love and grit. Ann was a one-of-a-kind leading lady and was always willing to listen and share her thoughts. I carry the lessons Ann shared with me: strength, conviction, and unceasing faith.”
Brightman said, “Ann leaves an indelible mark on the community of Chelsea and the older adults we serve. I am grateful to our UMRC Foundation Board for honoring Ann’s legacy through this gift to the Chelsea and Ypsilanti Meals on Wheels. It would have meant so much to her, and I believe it is our responsibility to carry her legacy forward.”