By C.J. Carnacchio
A groundbreaking ceremony was held Oct. 17 to welcome a new 54,000-square-foot senior living facility to Oxford and Orion townships.
Prior to shoveling some ceremonial dirt, David Fulkerson, one of the partners in Grace Premier Senior Living, said he expects the facility to have “one of the best cultures in the United States for conscious, loving care.”
“At Grace, we are raising the bar for how we care for people,” said the 1985 Oxford High School graduate. “It is our goal that everyone feel loved, listened to and understood. That’s a big deal.”
Grace is currently under construction at 985 N. Lapeer Rd. The site is located on the west side of M-24, south of Manitou Lane.
When completed, the single-story facility will offer 48 units for residents requiring assisted living and 16 units for folks in need of memory care services.
According to Fulkerson, the assisted-living units will surround a common area containing dining rooms, a movie theater, a hair salon, living rooms, fitness rooms and activity rooms. The idea is to have everything situated within a “short walk” of residents’ rooms.
“Which is important when you’re 95,” said Fulkerson, whose partners include China Township resident Mark Kincer and Clark D. Harris, of Oxford.
Grace will be a one-story facility, as opposed to a multi-floor complex, because Fulkerson said “seniors don’t like waiting for the elevator to go eat or to simply go outside” and they find places less confusing if everything is located on a single level.
As for the staff, Fulkerson said Grace, which opened a Chesterfield Township facility in January, is “picky” about who it hires as caregivers and once selected, everyone is trained to meet “high standards.”
“They’re dedicated to mindful, kind attention to each person’s unique qualities so that individual needs are acknowledged and met,” he said.
Fulkerson noted caregiving is “difficult,” but “meaningful” work.
“Everyone here should do caregiving at least once . . . It’s very humbling. It’s something to be proud of. We are at our best when we’re helping others,” he told the crowd.
One of the things that makes this Grace facility different is the fact that the boundary
line between Oxford and Orion townships runs directly through the building. All of the assisted-living units are on the Orion side, while all of the memory care rooms are in Oxford.
Constructing a single building that spans two townships created some “very challenging development issues,” according to Fulkerson, but fortunately, Grace was “blessed” to have “some awesome leadership” helping it.
He specifically singled out the efforts of Oxford Township Supervisor Bill Dunn, Orion Township Supervisor Chris Barnett and Oxford Township Trustee Jack Curtis.
“This building wouldn’t be here today without their leadership. There’s no question about that,” Fulkerson said. “These men were instrumental and we’re grateful for their support. We won’t let you down.”
Fulkerson added, “It’s been a pleasure working with two forward-looking communities.”
Dunn told the crowd both communities pride themselves on exercising “common sense” when it comes to working with developers to handle problems.
“I couldn’t be prouder of the project that you’ve done,” he said.
Fulkerson is no stranger to Oxford. His family moved here in 1972 and his parents still live here.
His father, “Hot Rod” Bob Fulkerson, opened The Country Coney restaurant on M-24, just south of Drahner Rd., in 1980. Fulkerson’s first job was as a dishwasher there.