Genesis board members have posted
fliers in several area churches to recruit volunteer workers for a
variety of different tasks this Saturday, including painting,
landscape work and interior cleanup. The volunteer day starts
midmorning, at 10 a.m., and work is planned until about 4 p.m. Lunch
and refreshments will be served.
The first volunteer day was on a cold
day in late March, prior to Genesis' acquisition of the building.
The aim was to get the building boarded up and secured. Vandals had
long been using the building as a place to party on weekends, and
much of the interior of the building had been damaged or destroyed.
Windows had been smashed out, crucial plumbing pipes and fixtures
removed or destroyed, paint and graffiti strewn about, and
electrical systems were ripped out, apparently for profit and
mischief. The building was a hazard, and insurance companies would
not extend coverage unless the property was rendered harmless.
Turnout was good on that day; the building was secured and posted
with "No Trespassing" signs.
Since that time, Genesis board members
and volunteers have been working each weekend and during the week to
start the long job of cleaning and returning the systems in this
aged nursing home to a working condition. Seeing workers about the
property has caused many passers-by to stop and remark that they are
glad that someone is fixing up the facility and is going to do
something positive for the community.
Acquiring the Bartmann Nursing Home
facility was a long, difficult process. Early in 2001, several
Lincoln-area individuals observed the vacant building and recognized
that building's potential as a site for ministry. In April 2001, a
small group of people gathered to inspect the nursing home, which
had ceased operations some time in the fall of 2000. The property
was then owned by the MidAmerica Care Foundation, which had operated
the nursing home during its last years. MidAmerica seemed eager to
sell the property, which they originally priced at $350,000. Over
the next few weeks, they reduced the price to $250,000, then
$150,000, and over the next months began to intimate that they might
even give the property to this group that was to become Genesis some
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Genesis made plans to receive the
building together with Peoria Rescue Mission until becoming a
501(c)3 organization. PRM is a Peoria-based organization that has a
ministry of providing shelter for people from the streets and
providing long-term rehabilitation for men. The plan was forming to
develop a program at the Bartmann property as a long-term
rehabilitation facility and halfway house for women. Its rural
location, sprawling acreage and ample building size seemed quite
appropriate to support such a program.
Because of internal pressures from
bondholders, MidAmerica was forced to offer the property for sale to
the highest bidder in the fall of 2001. In October 2001, Genesis was
informed that they were not the successful bidder. The property had
been sold to Peter Mascari, a Catholic priest from Sherman. Mascari
operated a number of successful ministries in Sherman and
Springfield and acquired the Bartmann property for expansion.
Genesis explored the possibility of
collaboration with Mascari to develop the Bartmann facility, but
after months of talks and meetings, a common purpose was never
discovered. Genesis began anew the process of finding another
location for the project.
In November 2002, Genesis board members
learned that Mascari had fallen ill. A short time later he died. On
Jan. 8, 2003, Genesis received notification that the government
officially recognized it as a 501(c)3 organization, and on Jan. 9 it
received notification that Mascari's organization, God's Outreach of
Sherman, was giving the Bartmann property to Genesis, in line with
what they believed would have been Father Mascari's wishes. Genesis
received the deed to the property on March 31, 2003.
Ministries Project is currently working to develop a full ministry
plan that will utilize the property for the long-term rehabilitation
of women who have come from difficult backgrounds and to develop
strategic partnerships to deliver those services. Since the property
is so extensive, other plans such as the development of a Christian
retreat center in conjunction with the women's ministry are
currently being discussed.