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Our History

Kekkonen letter - Click to enlargeIn the late 1950’s and 1960’s, two second generation Finnish gentlemen, Mr. Ed Jarvi and Dr. Aarne Suominen, had an idea to build a safe, comfortable, Finnish-style facility where older Finnish immigrants could spend their golden years. Unfortunately, they both died before their dream came true.

However, almost at the same time, two energetic Finnish ladies – both radio program announcers – were encouraging their listeners to visit local hospitals and nursing homes, bringing some coffee and “pulla” and thus make people inside feel good and not forgotten.

Listeners responded and very soon it became obvious how important it was to have a facility where older Finnish people could spend their retirement years, where their native language was spoken and familiar customs were practiced.

So, at the request of Lantana and Lake Worth area Finns, Mr. Sam Miller invited everybody interested to attend a meeting at the Tourist Club on October 21, 1970. At this meeting, Mr. Janger donated the first $75.00 to get the idea off the ground, and it was decided that the Finnish-American Rest Home was to be built.

Soon after the meeting, a search for land was started. It was found: 11 acres for a little over $50,000 – with a $750 down payment. Architect Arne Kontturi immediately went to work on the drawings. Financial problems and hardships were many, but with a $100,000 bank loan, donations, and selling bonds for future members, construction moved forward. Opening ceremonies for the Rest Home were held on March 1, 1974.

Almost immediately after that, plans to build a Nursing Home were started. There was lots of opposition from the State of Florida and Palm Beach County officials who argued if this type of facility was really necessary since there seemed to be enough nursing home beds available in the area. After years of battling against bureaucracy, the American-Finnish Nursing Home was opened in 1979.

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In the early years, many Finnish ladies and gentlemen worked for countless hours as volunteers, serving meals, helping in the kitchen, doing laundry and drying it outside, to save energy and money. Without these kind, hard-working people, this facility would never have stayed open and, still today, volunteers are a big part of our daily routine.

The Jungle where Finnish-American Rest Home was to be built

The Deal Is Done - sellers and buyers signing the documents

Volunteers selling bonds

Ground-Breaking Ceremonies 1972 for the Rest Home

Construction starts 1973

First residents 1975

Original Board 1971

Volunteers

Residents

Volunteers

First coffee-social at still-roofless Nursing Home

First Membership Meeting 1971

A replica of a memorial of the first Finnish settlers in Delaware donated to Rest Home

Rest Home takes part in the Lake Worth Bicentennial celebration - 1976

Volunteers - Longtime Chairman Arvo Katajisto

Former Board Members

The unveiling of the potrait of Arvo Katajisto

View of Rest Home 1990

Aerial photo

Finnish-American Village

Lake Worth, Florida