Nonprofit Waco with a global mission launched a thrift store this weekend in a bid to raise money for a nursing home, which will provide free care to patients nearing the end of their lives.
The Lord’s Work has scheduled a grand opening from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday for the thrift store at its recently purchased property at 1208 N. Robinson Drive, with live music, free food, and games planned.
Co-founder Dr. Jeff Betts, said the 501(c)(3) faith-based nonprofit known to support livestock and microcredit projects in developing countries, plans to expand end-of-life care with its free nursing home.
Bates, the medical officer for Coryell Health and at Bluebonnet Health Services hospice, said he and his wife had wanted to open a free hospice for about 10 years.
Bates said The Lord’s Work last year purchased the 14-acre property where the thrift store is located. The six-building complex formerly housed the Harvest Time Revival Center and still includes a church, child care center and service dog training facility, which will continue.
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Initially, Bates said the nonprofit purchased the property with the intention of using it as a base for its international department, which included helping farmers build flocks of goats. But as those plans changed, the idea of a free nursing home returned to him.
“My day job is I’m an aged care physician, and I’ve been doing this for 12 years,” Bates said. “My dad died in a place like this. So I said ‘What if we do a project at home?'” What if we built a nursing home here in Waco? “
Bates said he hopes to open the hospice next year.
Hospice care focuses on providing the best quality of life for a person as in the last few weeks of their life. As a physician working in the field, Bates said he felt the need for a free hospice home in the Waco community.
By providing care in a home-like setting, Bates said the burden of caring for dying relatives is taken off their loved ones, and guests can enjoy the final few weeks of a peaceful and relaxed life. Bates said he wants this care to be provided free of charge so that cost is not a barrier to people receiving needed care.
“You can get out of the hospital, come here, your family can be around you and take care of you,” Bates said. “The hospice care companies, they provide the doctor, they provide the nurse, they provide the medicine, they provide the bed. What they don’t offer is a place to live. They don’t provide 24/7 care.”
Bates said the hospice will have trained staff 24 hours a day with a certified nurse’s assistance taking care of guests at home. Bates said other staff and volunteers will include nurses, chaplains, social workers and doctors. Bates said the house would be able to receive three guests at a time.
Officials at The Lord’s Work hope to use the Waco facility as a model for nursing homes in other Central Texas communities, according to the organization’s website. Homes will not receive funding from Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance, or other government resources but will rely on private donations and proceeds from the resale store.
Paige Jones said she is a transitional care nurse and works with Bates. She said she decided to become a volunteer after hearing about the project.
“When people go to hospitals, and they have nowhere to go, I don’t have an answer for them,” Jones said. “Our seniors are one of the most vulnerable segments of the population, and they have done so much for us in the past. I feel we owe it to all of them to provide this last comfort.”
Bates said he estimates the annual cost of operating a nursing home at $200,000, plus an additional $100,000 to $200,000 required for renovations to the property. Bates said The Lord’s Work has already received more than $50,000 in donations from the community, and he said he hopes community support for the hospice project will continue through the thrift store.
Bates co-founded The Lord’s Work in 2018 with a group of friends, including Dr. Modelin Messadieu from Haiti; Tom Wright, owner of Waco’s Built Wright Construction; and Dr. Kevin Dwyer, MD, radiologist at Corel Health.
The idea was to send goats and small loans to families and communities in the developing world to help them become self-sufficient. Lord has worked in Haiti, Nepal, Congo, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Liberia, and India, according to his website.
“You give someone a bag of rice, and at the end of the week they say they need another bag,” Bates said. “The goats can have a baby, and you can return the little goats. What we do is we loan people a small amount of money, $20 or $50, no interest, but enough money they can start a hot dog stall, they can sell bottled water on the street, and they can Earn money and then pay us back. When they pay off the money, we give them another loan or find new people in the community.”
Bates said nursing home is a different direction for the nonprofit, but he sees providential hand in everything.
“It’s a little hard to tell how the goats got into that,” he said, “but the Lord has his own way of doing things.” “We started with one thing, and now we’re doing another.”