Chris Bickford remembers when the first resident walked into the newly built Maine Veterans’ Homes - Augusta in 1983; the Veteran was dressed to the nines in a suit and tie. Bickford was 19 years old and little did he know he would spend the rest of his career with the nonprofit organization.
Now, Maine Veterans’ Homes is building a new Home for its Augusta Veterans and their families, and Bickford is an instrumental component in making that happen. As Environmental Services Supervisor, Bickford was involved in the design phase, operational review and now weekly site updates.
A Priceless Resource
“Chris is a walking, talking, coffee drinking library of where things came from; how to fix this and who can help with that,” said Home Administrator Jake Anderson, adding that Bickford is the same kind of resource with the new project, only at a different address.
The new project leaves behind traditional features of the typical nursing facility – long, cold hallways, units anchored by nursing stations, and double rooms. The new residence features the Small House Model, which has 12 residents per building, each in a private room with their own bathrooms, with shared kitchens and dining rooms, living rooms and dens. There will be a Community Center that’s central to the households that will offer a bistro, ice cream shop, Veterans’ Club and space for families to gather.
Anderson said he can’t imagine that there’s anyone else who knows more about Maine Veterans’ Homes - Augusta than Bickford. “There are few organizations that have the kind of resources that we have in Chris and his knowledge of our Home and its operations,” Anderson added.
Logistics of Building a New Home
Back in the 1980s, Bickford remembers waxing every floor in the Cony Road Home before it was built and helping to load in hundreds of pieces of furniture. It will be déjà vu for him in 2021 when the new Home opens, he said, except he hopes it'll be a little less backbreaking now that he's close to retirement age.
When Bickford visits the Old Belgrade Road site now and stands in one area or another, he pictures the finished product and makes mental notes about whose office he is in, or which area of the clustered homes he is standing. It’s his job, he said, to know every square inch of the new property.
Learn More About MVH - Augusta
Read more about the big changes ahead for Maine Veterans' Homes - Augusta. See how our Small House model is changing senior living for the better and how it's already making an impact at our other Homes.