Labor of Love
A Labor of Love in Northeast
Catholic Eldercare celebrates 40 years of caring
“Albert, we need to build a nursing home. We need to take care of our family members and neighbors in Northeast.” These are the words Tom Glodek said to Minneapolis mayor elect Al Hofstede on a ski lift in Vail, Colorado in 1972. Four decades later, Catholic Eldercare (CEC) is celebrating 40 years of caring and dedicated service to individuals and families.
Trusting that God would provide, Catholic Eldercare was established in 1983. It was an eight-year labor of love that began with Tom Glodek, Al Hofstede, and Bob Hannah, three kids who grew up in Northeast and attended St. Anthony of Padua Church. Al recruited Bob, who was the treasurer for his mayoral campaign, and then he went to Archbishop John Roach for more help. The archbishop appointed Sister Ruth Roland, O.P. a Sinsinawa Dominican nun. With the help of a supportive community, and many other instrumental people, these four founders launched four decades of caring for the elderly in Northeast Minneapolis.
Dae Hannah, Bob’s wife, remembers those days and recalls the nights that Al and her late husband would talk about how it could be done, and how they could save St. Anthony of Padua Church. “They would walk our kids in strollers after dinner and talk about how to keep Northeast vibrant and livable, so people could remain in their homes,” said Dae. “As the finance guy, Bob always worried about funding it, but he never doubted it would happen.” Tom Glodek adds, “Bob Hanna was key with watching over the money we had.”
“We all came out of Northeast, and we had an allegiance to each other to make a nursing home happen to meet the needs of people who didn’t have a lot of money,” said Tom Glodek, the last remaining founder. “And we made sure there was a church connection, so people could live their faith while living out their life with dignity.”
Here begins the Catholic Eldercare story. Built on a foundation of Catholic principles, one could make the argument that it’s also built on sacred ground, where faith and Catholic values are lived and taught across generations. (See historical timeline)
If there’s a will, there’s a way
“The high school and the grade school were sitting empty, so we talked to Father William Hough and told him we wanted to buy the parish,” said Tom Glodek. “The buildings were deteriorating, and there wasn’t enough money to fix them, but it was still a viable parish.”
Working full time jobs, it was difficult for Tom, Al, and Bob to devote time during workdays. “We wanted a 150-bed nursing home, and we needed permits and state approval,” Tom explained. “Sister Ruth had a background in long-term care and was experienced in working with older adults, so she ran around doing everything while the rest of us worked our day jobs.”
Dae Hannah recalls, “I asked Sr. Ruth if she was sure she would be able to work with these guys. She is in a high place in heaven because she spent the first couple years chasing them down!
Sr. Ruth was a dynamic lady.”
Group meetings were held early in the morning, so the project could keep progressing. In need of an architect, Al recruited Chuck Sullivan, who Tom and Bob had met through a mutual friend. Chuck vividly remembers the phone call he received from Al. “Chuck, Al. Do you think we could turn St. Anthony of Padua into a nursing home?” Chuck replied, “Sure.”
Chuck went on to describe Al’s persuasive personality, and intense daily follow-up that kept everyone on task. “If he asked me to call someone, and I didn’t call them that day, Al would call the next day to ask when I was going to call them, and so on, day by day.”
With no money in the bank to pay for architectural services, Chuck somehow convinced his firm, Kirkham Michael in Minneapolis, that working on the project would be good marketing. He brought a civil, mechanical, and electrical engineer to the school to do a no cost assessment. They determined that the original part of the building wasn’t viable, but the addition, built in 1955 could be saved. Chuck proceeded to draw up the original sketches.
At the time, there was only one other nursing home in Northeast, and the neighborhood was filled with elderly Catholic immigrants who didn’t have money to pay for care. “We knew we would have to raise money,” says Tom. “And we had the resources and connections to raise it.” Tom knew every church in Northeast because of his role as a funeral director, Bob was active in the community, and Al could get anyone to do anything,” said Chuck. “We drew a lot of support because of their connections.”
One of those connections was Rose Totino who at the time owned a restaurant on East Hennepin Avenue. Tom says, “We asked Rose for a loan, and she turned us down. Then one day, she called and said she needed to talk to Hubert Humphrey, and every “major player” she knew was unable to get him to call her. I called Al and he said he was taking Humphrey back to Airforce One to fly back to Washington, so he could ask him to call Rose. Senator Humphrey called Rose, and as a result, she loaned us $1 million dollars.”
CEC received $250,000 from pull tabs from Elsie’s, and held one fundraiser that year, a luncheon that drew around 500 people. Our Northeast neighbors were generous because they knew we were caring for the people.
Years passed, meetings continued, and the $5 million project amount was solidified. “We were finally ready to move, Tom recalls. “We had the bids, and we met with municipal bonds people. They offered us a 15.25% interest rate. I looked at Al, Bob, and Sr. Ruth and told them it would be fiscally irresponsible to accept it.” Sister Ruth said, “We’ve got to do it. God will take care of us,” and Tom replied, “Even God doesn’t like a 15.25% interest rate.” Then he turned to Al and asked, “How do you respond to that?” “Ok, we’ll do it,” said Al. “That’s what you say when God’s going to take care of it.” Tom and Bob agreed, and Catholic Eldercare was built, connected to St. Anthony of Padua Church, and dedicated by Archbishop Roach in September of 1983.
Some bumps along the way
After the loan from Rose was paid back, still in need of additional funding, Tom asked her to donate money to CEC, and she said no, but according to Tom, Sister Ruth made it happen. “Sr. Ruth was talking about CEC at Immaculate Conception. After Mass, Rose told Sr. Ruth that her words convinced her to donate, and she gave us $300,000. Sr. Ruth was the heart and soul of Catholic Eldercare.” Chuck Sullivan agrees. “As a kid, I went to Catholic School and was afraid of nuns. Then I met Sr. Ruth, who was sweet, nice, and funny.”
Dae Hannah said Sr. Ruth got things done. “She got beds from a facility that was closing, and we were all there washing them the day before we opened. Sr. Ruth knew what was needed. The first years were stressful; there was a day to day worry of keeping it open and look at it now. It was a dream that became a reality.”
The rest is history
Al Hofestede, Tom Glodek, Bob Hannah, Sr. Ruth Roland, Chuck Sullivan, Archbishop Roach,
Dr. Eugene Ott, Msgr. Jerome Boxleitner, Rev. William Hough, and Carolyn Olson made up the inaugural Board of Directors. For 20 years Al was Board president, Tom was vice president, and Bob was treasurer.
Chuck Sullivan describes the four founders of CEC with whom he served. “They were like streetcar drivers who said hop on, hold on to the strap and we’ll move forward. With all the problems we faced, positive, principled, and passionate people came together and found solutions. So many unusual things came together because of their connections.”
Following in the footsteps
Emily Hofstede Koski says she and her brother Al Hofstede, Jr. have a lot of memories of their dad working to build CEC. “Al and I were little, but I remember going to the construction site with our dad on Saturdays to check in on the progress,” says Emily. “We knew there was a reason we were there but didn’t fully understand that our dad was a big part of what was happening. We were more interested in seeing Sr. Ruth and her golden retriever, Brandy. We have good memories from those days.”
Now a member of the Minneapolis City Council, serving residents of Ward 11, Emily is following in her father’s footsteps in city government, and so is her brother Albert J. Hofstede Jr., who currently serves on the Catholic Eldercare Board of Directors, recently as Chair of the Board, like his dad. “Our dad had an amazing ability to listen, connect, understand needs, and the barriers to meeting them. He knew exactly who to go to and got the right people in the room to get it done.” Emily adds, “It's an honor to have the Albert J. Hofstede Care Center named after our dad. Catholic Eldercare has been a big part of our lives, and it continues to be.”
Mark Glodek is also walking in his father’s footsteps, serving on the CEC Board of Directors. He recalls the depth of his father’s allegiance to honoring his Northeast neighbors with the building of Catholic Eldercare. “I was 19 years old at the time, and I remember my dad talking passionately about Catholic Eldercare. He kept repeating the mission to make sure everyone knew what they were doing. Dad was shepherding things, Al had the connections to get things done, and Sister Ruth ran quarterback for it all.” Mark says his dad was tied to local parishes and he was driven by civic pride. “Northeast gave him so much opportunity; it gave him his start in the funeral business, and he was proud of where he came from. He knew people who lived through the depression, and he had a sense of needing to care for them and preserve St. Anthony of Padua church.”
Dae Hannah remembers her husband Bob as a good man with an even, workable personality. “Bob could work with anyone. He knew his job and he knew who he had to support.” She also remembers her dear friend, Al. “When I first met Al in the early 50’s his shirt was never tucked in. Deep down inside he was always that guy, and everyone loved him. I often think of how pleased Al, Bob, and Sr. Ruth would be if they could see Catholic Eldercare now.”
Sr. Ruth Roland’s legacy lives on at CEC in care providers and other staff members who remain dedicated to her mission. At the time of her passing in 2013, Sr. Ruth had cared for the elderly for 37 years. Carla Franz, Director of Nursing, says she had the privilege of working alongside her. “Sr. Ruth was incredibly compassionate and caring, and she instilled that in us,” says Carla. “I knew that if I was going work at Catholic Eldercare, I needed to care for people, body, mind, and spirit. And her spirit is still with us. I hear her voice and her great laugh in the halls all the time. She led by example and taught me that work can be fun.”
Tom, Al, Bob, and Sr. Ruth, your foresight, persistence, and dedication to the mission made Catholic Eldercare a reality. You wanted to take care of elderly people in Northeast, and you did. Tom Glodek recently said, “Catholic Eldercare was built so people who didn’t have money could live fully with dignity, and that continues to be our mission. We were able to see into the future, and Sr. Ruth has been proven to be right. God has watched over us, and we are blessed.”