In 1959, three Mennonite Brethren men spearheaded a project with interested churches from three Fraser Valley communities to provide a personal care home for seniors. They turned the sod for a 39-bed complex in Abbotsford, B.C., a year later, and called it the Tabor Home.
It was the right move at the right time, as evidenced by its growth. Tabor expanded four times from 1963–1973, opened an independent living facility in 1989, and expanded again in 2007 with an assisted living facility. The complex, now called the Tabor Village, marked 50 years with a birthday celebration June 19.
Guests at the event heard how the first “house father,” Abram J. Friesen (one of the three founders) together with his wife and two young daughters, extended themselves to cover everything from the office to the laundry. Friesen also served as an unofficial male nurse and chaplain. Renee Neumann, one of his daughters, talked about what it was like to live as a teenager in an elder care facility.
Churches in the valley were asked to provide directors for the society in 1982, and 10 churches answered the call. Membership in the society swelled to more than 3,000. The board now consists of members from nine Abbotsford MB churches.
The theme repeated throughout the ceremony, says current spiritual care coordinator Roland Balzer, is at the heart of Tabor’s existence – giving care for the love of God.