January 23, 2020 started out as a normal day for John “JC” Cunningham. His wife Karen picked him up at Fargo Elim for a doctor’s appointment, and they decided to go to the Fargo Air Museum before returning home. During their museum visit, Karen got a call from Fargo Elim: there was a fire. At that point, JC and Karen assumed it was a small fire, with nothing much to concern them. Later that evening, they drove back toward Fargo Elim, and quickly realized it was much worse than they could have imagined.
They parked across the street, and watched flames pierce the roof as fire crews battled the four-alarm blaze. JC watched as his home for the past twelve years burned. He tried to stay calm, even as he worried about the wellbeing of his beloved staff and neighbors.
JC would later learn that every single person was safely evacuated—111 elders, 34 preschoolers, and 37 staff members. By God’s grace, the evacuation was executed flawlessly, and no one was hurt. Yet, the losses were immense.
Kids lost their beloved preschool and their daily interaction with their “grand friends.” Staff lost the joy of serving the residents they had come to know and love. JC and his neighbors lost their home and their community. JC moved to another community and settled in, but he plans to move back to Fargo Elim as soon as he can.
Fargo Elim first became home for JC and Karen in February of 2008. JC was paralyzed on the right side and unable to speak due to a stroke; doctors weren’t sure he’d ever recover. As the long days in the hospital turned into months, it became clear that he was going to need more care than Karen would be able to give him at home.
Karen started the process of looking for a care center. She didn’t choose Fargo Elim intentionally. It was just the first place with an opening—a coincidence. JC and Karen look back on this coincidence as a blessing from God.
Within six months, JC was talking again. Thanks to excellent care and therapy, he made significant progress with both speech and movement. Thirteen years later, he’s able to get around with a little help from his motorized wheelchair. Karen and JC can tell you at length about the quality of care at Fargo Elim and the difference it has made for JC. They also miss the tight-knit community. Although Fargo Elim might be smaller than some neighboring communities, JC and Karen appreciate the closeness and family dynamic that created. They knew everyone and everyone knew them. JC is counting down the days until the grand reopening…until he can go home.
“I can’t wait to get back to Fargo Elim. Every day is one day closer.”
If you would like to help residents like JC return home to Fargo Elim, you can. Click here to schedule a gift through Giving Hearts Day or reach out to Pastor David or Megan for more information.
Pastor David Juve