‘It’s been a wonderful ride’: Oak Park Arms celebrates 40th anniversary
When Manny Kramer and William Dewoskin bought The Oak Park Arms 40 years ago, they had a vision to for the building and its potential as a retirement community.
The building, at 408 S. Oak Park Ave., last week celebrated its 40thanniversary of providing an independent and assisted living community for senior citizens with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and luncheon.
“We hoped the community could evolve,” Kramer said. “Staff, they’ve added new components to the senior living experience that had never been done in the past. It’s excelled beyond what we did 40 years ago.”
The building had been built in the 1920s to serve as a hotel before it was converted to a retirement community under new ownership in 1978. Kramer and Dewoskin continue to have a stake in The Oak Park Arms and its future.
“It’s been a wonderful ride, and we’re not done yet,” Kramer told the crowd.
Kramer and Dewoskin had worked in the hotel industry, and they realized there was a need for senior housing in Oak Park. Kramer said they have embraced the journey in Oak Park.
“They have a sophisticated population, and we cater to that,” he said. “We have a reader’s theatre. They love it. It’s an exciting thing I don’t think you’ll find at a place that does what we do.”
“We’re in a good community,” he said. “We’ve always had the cooperation of the village of Oak Park. We have the chamber. It is a progressive city. All of that helps.”
The Oak Park Arms prides itself on its efforts to create a sense of community among residents. Kramer said they run nearly 300 events for seniors each month.
“Staff, they’re always dreaming up things,” Kramer said. “They’re not static. They’re excited to work here. It’s wonderful.”
Kramer gave credit to Moses Williams, the executive director at The Oak Park Arms, for helping carry out their vision. Williams said it means a lot to him knowing The Oak Park Arms is celebrating its 40thyear.
“The industry has changed so much,” he said. “I’m more impressed that over 40 years, we’ve affected change in the aging population. Forty years is great. We’re continuously growing to meet the needs our residents, and I’m proud of that.”
Williams said moving forward, it’s important for The Oak Park Arms to continue to keep the community in mind.
“I think, first and foremost, we have to keep our heart at the forefront of all we do,” he said. “We have a social responsibility. It’s about keeping our heart at the forefront of whatever we do. We need to continue to evolve to meet the community’s needs.”