Ken Neher using all of his skills to lead Garden Terrace during Covid scare
Ken Neher is finding plenty of challenges these days as the administrator at Garden Terrace, a low-income retirement home established by the Brethren-Baptist Church nearly half a century ago. With his unique and varied background, he’s well suited to leading in a time of a health crisis.
Ken and I had a Zoom videoconference and he was decked out in a protective mask, something that is becoming increasingly common during the coronavirus epidemic here.
Retirement homes and assisted living facilities are places of considerable concern these days because of the close living environment and the relatively high-risk residents who live there.
Not surprisingly, like the rest of society some of the 140-plus residents at Garden Terrace are DANGEROUSLY not taking the threat very seriously and continuing to meet in groups. Neher’s daughter Hayley, a gifted musician, is now an emergency room doctor at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York. Hayley, he told me, arrived in New York to study music around the time of the 9/11 attacks and will soon be moving with her husband to Tacoma. Once-in-a-lifetime crises have bracketed her New York experience.
Her father is taking coronavirus seriously and has taken significant steps to reduce the risk to residents.
Meals are being delivered to rooms rather than having a communal meal once a day and a limited of visitors are being allowed in the building. This is in line with practices around similar facilities in the community.
His wife Marsha is a nurse at Confluence and the Nehers also have another daughter who works for Netflix. So, his family is making an impact both in homes during quarantine and on the front lines of the medical response to it.
Neher, a California native with family ties to the Brethren community in the valley, moved to Wenatchee with Marsha after they graduated from University of La Verne, a college established by the Church of the Brethren.
Neher is perhaps best known for owning and operating Burger King
restaurants in Wenatchee and Omak in the 1990s, but he also has been the administrator at the Eye and Ear Cliic, worked in senior insurance services and spent 18 years doing development and stewardship work for the national office of the Church of the Brethren.
The Brethren, who in the early days were referred to as the Dunkards, emigrated to the valley from the Dakotas and the Midwest in the early part of the 20th Century to plant churches devoted to peace and were deeply involved in the development of orchards in Sunnyslope and East Wenatchee.
His understanding of finance, leadership and marketing made him a great fit for taking over the reins at Garden Terrace. Residents must be 62 years of age and make less than $38,000 a year.
It takes community support for this retirement home for low-income individuals to make ends meet and he has raised the profile of the organization through a regular column, Senior Moments, in The World and with various fundraising efforts that invite people to help those less fortunate. This is the essence of what it means to be a community — having empathy for and helping others.
Neher, in living the values of his faith, has been a consistent participant in being part of the community and helping those less fortunate. This is something we all can emulate, especially these days with hate and intolerance on the rise.
You can see efforts at Garden Terrace that fit into that mold. Residents got a kick out of Family Feud events that pitted the office staff against the kitchen staff some time back, and it was so well received that they organized a residents vs. staff competition.
As a community, we will need to continue to find ways to support Garden Terrace and the other organizations who cater to those at the margins.
Donations can be made on line at their website at www.gardenterrace.us or simply send a check to 500 N Emerson Ave, Wenatchee, WA. 98801.