Fundraiser, Reader, Religion Student
“Fund raising, reading and religion are the three things I must have in my life,” says Jean Bacon, a six-year resident of the Crossroads. She spent 40 years in the senior living business in Kansas City, Mo., the last 20 years as CEO of a continuing care retirement community that was built from scratch under her leadership. When the time came to retire, Bacon chose Goodwin House at Bailey’s Crossroads.
“I wanted to do three major things in retirement,” Bacon says. “I want to read everything I can get my hands on, including reading the paper every day.” Bacon has joined the Book Group and relishes having time to read.
Her second great interest is “fund raising for a project I could get my teeth into,” she continues. At GHBC, the GH Foundation’s Fellowship Fund, which supports residents in need who have outlived their financial resources, is that cause.
"I’ve been Episcopalian all my life,” Bacon says of her third passion, religion. “I wanted time to study more, to go to chapel every Sunday and enjoy the services. I love our Bible study group, St. Ignatius, and Bill Sykes’ Spiritual Companions group. I love hearing everyone discuss their studies of the Bible.”
The Road to GHBC
Jean Bacon grew up in Milwaukee, Wis., leaving the Midwest for college at Vassar in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. She began her career teaching for the first 11 years out of college. Marriage and a daughter enriched her life. “I left teaching when my dad retired” – Bacon’s father suffered several years of grave illness, and Bacon stepped in to help her parents – “and I took on every aging-related volunteer project I could find in Kansas City.” Bacon’s husband and father both died in 1986, leaving her a young widow with an 18-year-old daughter and an increasingly dependent mother.
When her Episcopal bishop met Bacon, he made her an offer she couldn’t refuse. He had just $600 in the bank but wanted her to build a retirement community from the ground up. “We raised $20 million,” says Bacon with a smile. “I left home at 6 a.m. and returned at 9 at night. It was a huge undertaking, with a shortage of trained people and resources in the Midwest. We started as rentals of independent living, then transitioned to life care, and built a new building. When I left, we had 320 residents, up from 90 in the beginning.”
But, Bacon notes, “there was no Fellowship Fund in Kansas City when we started. If a resident ran out of money, the funds had to come from operations.” This experience underscores Bacon’s belief that such a fund is critically important to protect residents and the retirement community.
Bacon retired and moved to Richmond, Va., in 2009 to be near her daughter and two grandchildren. (“There’s a huge culture difference between the Midwest and East Coast,” says Bacon of her move from Kansas City.) Like Bacon, her daughter is a senior living professional, and when her daughter’s career brought her to the Washington, DC, area, Bacon followed. “Anyone in the senior living business knows of Goodwin House,” says Bacon. “I knew I wanted to be here, so in August 2013 I moved in.”
Jean’s Kansas home - Daughter Libby, son-in-law Jeff, grandson Matthew, and granddaughter Makayla
Jean with Libby at the art show at Vinson Hall, where Libby is the CEO
Doing a Raffle Right
Jean Bacon lost no time engaging in her passions at GHBC. “I brought ideas for a basket raffle done the right way from Kansas City,” Bacon says. Her first year at GHBC, “we raffled some pearls and china – who needs pearls or china?! – and we made little money. But then we involved a larger community and in 2018 raised over $4,000.” Working with Priscilla Mott, Donita Moorhus and others, Bacon brought her well-honed fund-raising gifts to bear.
For the July 2019 raffle, Bacon and her team planned a special kick-off event for a separate ticket price: a wine and cheese evening with a talk by former White House chef Roland Mesnier. Also new for 2019, GHBC’s own chef Allyson Lara offered a chef’s table for four. Thanks to contributions from generous residents, raffle prizes included an Apple watch, a Samsung tablet and a Kindle. Bacon handles all the solicitations for the raffle, from local businesses as well as in-house, from the computer and phone in her home office. In addition to the annual raffle, Bacon helped set up mini-brunches to give Foundation staff the opportunity to meet essentially all GHBC residents, another activity that was a successful part of her Kansas City fund raising portfolio.
|Jean displays prizes at the 2019 GHBC Raffle
Best of all, says Bacon, “all proceeds from the raffle benefit the Foundation Fellowship Fund,” supporting residents in need.
At GHBC, Bacon is active in the St. Ignatius Group, which studies the Lectionary from the preceding Sunday at its twice-monthly meetings. Although Bacon is the organizer, she explains that leadership of the discussion rotates among participants. “The person in charge asks leading questions,” says Bacon, “and the discussion lasts long past our allotted hour. It’s fascinating to me to hear what others think. It opens the mind and heart for everyone interested in theology."
Bacon also cherishes the Spiritual Companions biweekly meetings under Bill Sykes’ direction, where the group holds spiritual and reflective discussions based on books it has read. “There are no wall flowers in either group,” Bacon says. “Both groups take time. I never had time for Bible study when I was working, but now I do.”
Asked about her plans for the future, Jean Bacon says she’s very curious about GHBC’s new CEO and the changes that will inevitably come with new leadership. “I want to be part of whatever changes are coming,” she asserts.
Jean and Friends at Goodwin House’s 50th anniversary gala
Jean is "MeeMaw" to her grandchildren and enjoys spending time with her family: daughter Libby, son-in-law Jeff, granddaughter Makayla, and grandson Matthew.
Libby and her young family
|Three generations deciding which cookies to make
||. ...and then making them
Jean and family with dogs Annie (left) and Bella (right)