Photos by Kim Leeson.
In 1922, the population of Dallas, TX, was around 160,000 — making it the 42nd largest city in the United States. The Magnolia Building opened that year; at 29 stories, it was the tallest building south of Washington, D.C. Neiman-Marcus had been in business for 15 years; SMU for seven.
And that was the year CC Young Memorial Home received its charter as a home for the elderly.
The first group of residents numbered 13. A century later, more than 450 residents call CC Young home. It moved from its original Oak Cliff location in 1963 and now spans 20 exquisitely landscaped acres near White Rock Lake.
Most residents live in independent living apartments, others, in assisted living, memory support, hospice care, or skilled nursing. People throughout 13 North Texas counties also receive home health care through CC Young professionals.
It’s been a century of compassion, of culture, of community. And everything started with a simple question from an 85-year-old widow to a Methodist pastor at a small church on Tyler Street in Oak Cliff:
“Can you find me a place to live?”
She had nothing; she told the Rev. Christopher Conley Young. Her request stirred his heart and started him thinking: If she was in that situation, how many other people were?
With the blessing of the North Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church, Rev. Young resigned his pastorate position and dedicated his life to raising money to start such a facility.
In 1919, Young began preaching the need from church pulpits in Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana. By the fall of 1921, he had raised $75,000 for what was to be called The Methodist Retirement Home.
Young died shortly before purchasing the land for the facility. The conference, awed by his determination and dedication, voted to change the home’s name in his memory.
“There’s a lot to be grateful for and a lot to celebrate,” Jennifer Griffin, CC Young’s Vice President of Engagement, said. “All over campus, we’re centennial-focused. It’s all 100 years of something: 100 years of Presidents, of music and dance, of movies and TV, of body/mind/spirit.”
Added Elena Jeffus, manager of Life Enrichment and Volunteers: “It is inspiring that one person dreamed of a safe place for elderly women, and it has turned into a marvelous community for seniors to thrive. Our leadership often refers to this man and his vision as a focal point to keep doing what we do.”
Billboards and banners around Dallas commemorate those 100 years.
An on-campus parade held in early April included the Anita Martinez Ballet Folklorico, antique cars, local high school bands, representatives from the CC Young resident councils, and interest groups.
Among the special guests were more than 35 descendants of Rev. Young.
“[Locating them] was one of my heart’s missions,” Griffin said. “Most were from South and East Texas, but others came from New Jersey.
We had three generations represented. Most of them didn’t know about him or us, but they were thrilled to participate.”
CC Young’s purpose and vision — to enhance the quality of life for all we serve — was a large part of the attraction for five-year residents Judith and Fred Banes.
“Knowing CCY has been serving the Dallas community for 100 years gives us confidence it will be here for a long time,” Judith said. “Having a benevolent religious beginning speaks to the environment that still exists on campus.”
She and her husband were familiar with CC Young because Judith’s parents moved there from Oklahoma in 2000, residing first in independent living, then in assisted living, and finally in memory care. With each stage, Judith and Fred were even more convinced they would move there eventually.
On June 1, 2017, after selling their home in the Hollywood Heights neighborhood of Dallas, they moved into their CC Young apartment.
Because of her parents’ history with CC Young — and also because Judith had long been part of its Bag Ladies, a group of volunteers who knit plastic grocery bags into colorful mats for the homeless (really!) — moving wasn’t too difficult a transition. To allay any worries about missing their old home, she took pictures of every room and had them made into a photo book.
“That made me feel I could go back for a ‘visit’ when I got homesick,” Judith said. “But I never did.”
She and Fred made friends. They got involved.
Judith chose responsibilities enhancing communication between residents and administration. She became part of the CCY Auxiliary and the Food Committee.
Fred, an avid woodworker, joined The Woodies, a group of men with a penchant and passion for wood. They now have their own woodshop in The Vista building on campus.
One resident donated a golf cart — “The Woody Wagon” — to transport Woodies to the woodshop.
“They’re the ones who built the giant ‘CC’ and ‘100’ on campus for the centennial,” Griffin said. “The Woodies make things to support our benevolent program. They also make Texas-shaped cheese boards and other items that are sold in our gift shop and in retail locations around Dallas.”
Some Woodies are also involved in many musical groups on campus, such as The Ol’ Cowhands and the Studio One Jazz Band.
“Engaged, engaged, engaged,” Griffin said. “The possibilities are endless.”
The Senior Scribblers, a writing group at CC Young meeting weekly to share and critique work, just published a book available on Amazon.
Classes teach residents smartphone photography and how to start Facebook accounts. Residents can learn tai chi, study a foreign language, practice yoga, and enjoy a friendly game of ping pong.
“Every month,” Jeffus, the Enrichment and Volunteer Manager, said, “our team creates a calendar with activities meant to engage residents in all dimensions of wellness: Physical, spiritual, social, intellectual, emotional.”
Of course, residents are also welcome to simply stroll the grounds, partake of the deliciously prepared food, or listen to lectures given by nationally known authors and speakers.
Griffin said one upcoming activity particularly excited her.
“This fall, we’re in an exclusive partnership with the University of North Texas and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute,” she said.
“They curate faculty and put together a curriculum, then come on campus and present college-level content for all our residents.”
Griffin continued: “People want to remain vibrant and active and alive. Keeping your mental capacity current and up to date — always learning — helps not only with your attitude, but with cognition, as well.
We’re excited for those in our healthcare center who can [attend] virtually.”
Additionally, the courses will soon be open to the public, not just to CC Young residents.
“Before Covid, our driving factor was to serve the community at large,” Griffin said. “People in the community can belong to The Point, where most activities are held, and experience programming and wellness. “
Griffin added: “We had to quit that with Covid, but it all will be back.”
It will, indeed. This is CC Young, after all, which has remained standing and thriving throughout the Great Depression, World War II, the Vietnam and the Persian Gulf conflicts (among others), 18 US Presidents, jaw-dropping advancements in technology… and on and on and on.
So many changes! But so many constants, too: The commitment, the compassion, the community — and, of course, the dream of CC Young, all those years ago.
“On the shoulders of many,” Griffin said, “we continue to grow.”