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Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023

The Glen Turns 125

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Logan House: After the founding of The Glen, what was then called the Home for the Homeless, in 1898, sufficient funds were eventually collected to purchase a house, located at 227 Logan St. for $1,150. Homeless women resided at this address until March 25, 1905, when the house was destroyed by fire.

Making residents feel at home

A month before her 88th birthday, Dorothy Kelly was living at home by herself when she fell and broke her hip.

“The doctor said she could not live alone,” remembered Susan Schirmer, the oldest of Dorothy’s four children.

So, when Kelly finished her rehabilitation at The Glen Retirement System, Schirmer – being the oldest child – had a decision to make. Where would she place her mother to live the rest of her life?

“They were very caring, very friendly,” Schirmer said of The Glen’s staff during her mom’s rehab. “They would stop and talk with me if I had any questions, even if it wasn’t a scheduled time for them to talk and give updates. They would talk to us anytime. They were friendly to my mom. (The facility) was very clean. I felt comfortable there. I even asked my mom, who has some dementia, and she liked it. I had visited other places, so I did know a little bit, but I just did not consider another place for her to live permanently.”

As 2023 winds down, The Glen Retirement System is celebrating its 125th birthday. What started as one woman’s effort to give an older, blind lady a way out of deplorable living conditions along the banks of the Red River has become a Life Plan Community, offering independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing care.

“I think it reflects that we have persevered through some tough times,” said Debra Williams, president and CEO of The Glen Retirement System. “We are highly regarded in the community, and people still make the choice to live at The Glen. I’m not talking about myself, but I think it’s really remarkable that we’ve had some very strong leadership, non-profit boards and strong board members, through 125 years. The workforce we have is committed to providing the best care for residents – the best environment.”

Mary Files, the lady who gave the older, blind woman a better place to live, died in 1895. But her mission to help others wasn’t dead. In Files’ will, there was a $25,000 endowment to establish a home that would help even more people. A charter late 1800s when there were a lot of social reforms going on, then you progress was signed in 1898, beginning the 125-year road to what The Glen Retirement System is now.

“The way society has changed has definitely impacted the way we provide service,” said Williams, who is in her eighth year as president and CEO of The Glen Retirement System and 21st year overall. “You go back to the to 1935 with the Social Security Act, and people started receiving social security benefits. Then there was the Fair Labor Standards Act, where you had to pay people. When residents first moved into the home, they actually worked. People had chores. They had duties. They helped maintain the home.”

Now, the residents don’t work for their keep, but they do pay, either privately or with government help.

But Williams said there is one thing that hasn’t changed in 125 years.

“I think it’s the heart – the genuine concern we have to make it the best possible life for those who choose to reside at The Glen.”

Schirmer has seen that “genuine concern.” “They have games and activities. I’ve gone up and participated with her. They decorate for the holidays. That might not seem important, but with my mother having been a decorator, holidays are important to her – and to me. (The staff) is warm. They’re caring.”

Williams will tell you there are several ways The Glen differs from other facilities that provide similar care. But perhaps the biggest difference is that The Glen is not a corporate-owned facility. The home office is not out-of-town or out-of-state. It’s right here in Shreveport-Bossier. The Glen has one owner: The Glen Retirement System.

“I think what’s important is the non-profit factor. We’re not for profit in that there’s no owner who is looking to take money from the organization. All the profits get reinvested back into our facilities, our buildings, our grounds and to the activities we provide our residents.”


Jordan House: After fire destroyed the main residence for The Glen, then called the Home for the Homeless, a new house was dedicated at 228 Jordan St.

In 1986, what was then Glen Oaks Home became The Glen and moved from Glen Oaks Place to its current location on East Flournoy Lucas Road. There was a series of expansion projects, the latest ending with the 2021 opening of Redbrook, which consists of 60 independent living residences covering three stories. Redbrook features amenities such as an indoor heated swimming pool and a fitness center with Smart Touch technology.

While its 53-acre campus is larger than ever – there is capacity for 316 residents – Williams said there’s an effort to provide those residents with an intimate atmosphere.

“We have individual dining rooms and living rooms for residents to enjoy in smaller settings. They also have choices. If they want to participate in an activity that we have, or if they don’t. What time they have dinner – some choose not to have dinner until late, and we make that happen. They can choose to have an alternate meal rather than what we have on our menu, and we make that happen.”


Cottages Courtyard


Village Health Care

Grandmother’s Gardem

It’s all about making residents feel at home, even if it’s not the home they’re used to.

“The small settings provide more of a home-like environment,” Williams said. “(The residents) are comfortable. It’s about their comfort and the choices they have. It’s called person-centered care. We try to focus on the individual and not just on big groups. We want to know the individual, and what their preferences are, so they can continue just like they would if they were at home.”

To learn more about The Glen Retirement System, you may visit www.theglen.org.


Today, The Glen sits on a 53-acre campus that serves up to 316 residents.

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