Otterbein SeniorLife

Then (or Our Roots)

Otterbein SeniorLife has its roots in 1912. In that year, the then-United Brethren Church (now the United Methodist Church) purchased 4,000 acres of land in Lebanon, Ohio, from the Shakers. Originally called the United Brethren Orphanage and Home for the Aged, its original mission was to serve as a community for retired and aging pastors, orphans, and other aging members of the church.

In the early 1960s, Otterbein shifted its focus to exclusively care for older adults and — like many other nonprofit orphanages at the time — phased out the orphanage as public social services increased, and child protection laws and policies were enacted that favored smaller foster home settings over institutions.

Since 1960, Otterbein has been through several transformations but the values driving the original orphanage and home for the aged — respect, quality, commitment, ministry, community, wisdom, stewardship, and health — still help ground Otterbein’s ministry today.

Now (or Our Future)

Today, Otterbein’s work is guided by its mission statement — “seeking to enhance the quality of life and holistic growth of older persons” — in offering independent and assisted living, skilled nursing, rehabilitation services, memory support, respite care, in-home care, and hospice services.

The 20th largest nonprofit senior care organization in the United States, Otterbein SeniorLife now includes nine continuing care retirement communities, nine skilled nursing “small house” neighborhoods, two hospice agencies (serving northwest and southwest Ohio respectively, and a home health agency serving southwest Ohio. Otterbein’s newest additions include communities previously operating as Franklin United Methodist (Franklin, Indiana), Sunset House and Sunset Village (both Toledo, Ohio) and Kendal at Granville (Granville, Ohio); and new small house neighborhoods in Gahanna, New Albany, and Loveland, all in Ohio.

“Otterbein’s most important aspect of outreach today is the provision of services to provide seniors the more important elements of life — safety, engagement, belonging, self-esteem, and self-actualization,” says Jill Wilson, president and CEO.

The outreach of EAGLE-accredited Otterbein also extends into the larger communities it serves. “Otterbein is often one of the largest employers in an area,” says Wilson, “with more than 2,500 employees active in local chambers of commerce, leadership, and social and recreational events.”

“The original vision for Otterbein was to serve as a true community, providing a living environment, health care services, and support as residents age,” Wilson adds. “That remains the vision today.”