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15 Years Ago Today in Concordia History: The Haven I Fire

November 5, 2021

Today, we take a moment to recognize the 15th anniversary of the fire that claimed Concordia’s Haven I retirement apartment building. You may be asking, why would we memorialize a tragedy? To answer that, here is a quote from Concordia President and CEO Keith Frndak from the day of the incident, "In terms of property loss, we have a catastrophe. In terms of people, we were very blessed."

Haven 1 GroundbreakingAnother inspirational quote from the day was from Bob Waltenbaugh, a resident who had lived in Haven I for four years prior to the fire: "People in this building have seen a lot of life, and I know a fire is not going to get them down," Bob said. "We have a pretty good faith here in God."

We thought it would be fitting to count a few of the many blessings from the day and months that followed.

Blessing #1: Not a single resident was injured or hospitalized in the fire, which would take down the entire building, despite the efforts of more than 100 firefighters from 16 local fire companies. Thanks be to God!

Blessing #2: The fire started on a Sunday morning, which meant that many of the residents were at church. This unquestionably saved countless lives, but also made for a stressful experience in terms of trying to account for every resident. A small price to pay – thanks be to God!

Blessing #3: Immediately next door to the Haven 1 building, Concordia had just celebrated the grand opening of a major expansion to the Lund Care Center. Coincidentally – or perhaps more appropriately stated, according to God’s plan – that expansion included enough resident rooms to house every single displaced Haven 1 resident who wanted to stay. They weren’t as large as the apartments they were accustomed to, but thanks be to God!

Blessing #4: A week after the fire, we established a Resident Recovery Fund to help the displaced residents directly. Less than three months later, individuals, businesses and churches had donated an astonishing $475,000. Beyond this incredible financial blessing, we received so many donated articles of clothing within those first few months that we were forced to stop accepting them, due to space constraints. Thanks be to God!

Blessing #5: Concordia and those in our care received an outpouring of prayers and support like we hadn’t seen in recent memory. The organization and the community we had been a part of for 125 years (at the time) had never experienced a closer connection, which we hope and pray has continued to this day. Once again, thanks be to God!

The resiliency, strength and spirit shown by the Haven I residents in the days and months that followed was humbling – and a testament of what it means to FULLY trust God. They had lost all their earthly possessions, but despite that, they knew that their Savior would provide.

Thanks be to God!

Do you have a memory of that day? Feel free to leave a comment on our Facebook page. And if you can spare a moment, say a quick prayer of thanksgiving for the blessings God gave that day and every other.

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