50th Anniversary

Living Our Promise for 50 Years

This year, our community celebrates a very special milestone. Fifty years ago, we first opened our doors to the public as Quaker Gardens — a not-for-profit senior community founded on the promise of compassion and devotion for every person we encounter, through every season of life. Since then, we have been blessed to meet and care for thousands of individuals and families who have become part of our community, and our family. We cherish every person and family member we’ve had the pleasure of serving.

Over the past 50 years, our community has continued to thrive and grow. We’ve added new facilities, services and amenities to better meet the changing needs of our community members. We’ve improved our grounds and buildings. Now we’re close to completing a major renovation that will bring added comfort and modern conveniences to the people who live here and visit us. We’ve also recently transitioned from Quaker Gardens to Rowntree Gardens — a name that reflects our renewed commitment to live our promise every day, for the next 50 years and beyond.

"You could feel the concern and caring from the moment you entered the gate. You felt welcome."

– Shirley

To all our community members and their families, our guests, valued staff and partners — we invite you to join us as we celebrate 50 years of living our promise to the people we cherish. After all, you have played an important role in helping us become the thriving, welcoming and loving community we are today. And will be for generations to come.

Please, take a moment to view our 50th anniversary timeline, to see just how far we’ve come since we first opened our doors.

Video Highlights

50 Years of Living Our Promise

Meeting the Need

1961
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A Great Idea is Born
Recognizing the need for a comfortable, caring and affordable retirement home for aging members of their congregations, leadership from the First Friends Church of Whittier and Alamitos Friends Church in Garden Grove begin discussing the creation of a new senior living community. The not-for-profit community would be located on seven acres that were once part of a prosperous farm and orange grove established in the 1890s.

“Great projects do not spring full blown upon the world. Every great and good accomplishment was once a small idea… augmented by many helpful persons and acts. Such a project was the building of Quaker Gardens.”

— from “Except the Lord Build the House,” by Edith McBride


The Planning Stage

1962
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Introducing The Concept
Pastor Eugene Coffin introduces the concept of the Quaker Gardens senior living community to his congregation at First Friends Church, who overwhelmingly support the idea. From the start, Quaker Gardens is envisioned as a “lifecare community,” meaning it would provide a full range of care and services onsite for people as they age. Eventually, Quaker Gardens would become one of the only not-for-profit, faith-based Continuing Care Retirement Communities in Orange County, offering a complete continuum of care for every season of life.
Planning Begins
The planning committee begins developing the plan for the $3.5 million dollar construction project on 12151 Dale Street in Stanton, CA, a quiet neighborhood on the western edge of Orange County, next to a former dairy farm. The committee would have to secure 17 permits before starting construction — a massive undertaking in itself. Members of the planning committee, who would go on to become Quaker Garden’s first Board, include congregants of Alamitos Friends Church and Whittier Friends Church.

“I remember there was a long waiting list of prospective applicants for residency and that people had to get on that list while in their fifties in order to get in by retirement age.”
— Virginia Canfield, Board Member


Breaking New Ground

1964
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Groundbreaking Ceremony
Dignitaries, church and community members, and the planning committee come together to celebrate the groundbreaking of Quaker Gardens’ site. Unable to attend in person, Richard Nixon and Walt Disney send personal telegraphs expressing their congratulations.
Original Construction Plans
Original construction plans call for 171 apartment homes to care for more than 200 residents. Early renderings reveal a beautiful community of modern buildings linked by lush gardens and verdant lawns, earning the name Quaker Gardens. The community’s first printed brochure also notes that “Disneyland is close by” — certainly a draw for grandparents. Eager residents begin signing up, even before construction begins.
Faith-Based From The Start
From the start, Quaker Gardens is intended as a not-for-profit community, focused on meeting the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of people as they age. For this reason, one of the first buildings finished is the beautiful Chapel, featuring a floor-to-ceiling glass wall looking out over a lovely fountain. While rooted in the Quaker tradition, Quaker Gardens’ leadership opens the community to people of all faiths.
Guided by God
“The sacredness of the human personality, which most of us take to be the main emphasis of Jesus, certainly means that the ministry of Christ should extend through all the years of a person’s life. I believe this means that the retirement homes sponsored by the church should never become simply commercial enterprises, but they should have as their chief goal the fulfillment of the joy of life that Jesus talked about, in an atmosphere and environment permeated by the spirit of Christ.”

— Reverend Ezra Ellis, Minister of the First Friends Church of Whittier and original member of the Quaker Gardens planning committee and board.

First Community Member

1965
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First Community Member
Margaret Manning, a member of Rev. Eugene Coffin’s Alamitos Friends Church, joins Quaker Gardens as the community’s first resident. Others soon follow, and the community’s first Resident’s Association is formed. Beautiful green grounds, comfortable and cheery apartment homes, restaurant-style dining, a well-stocked library, onsite beauty salons, welcoming lounge areas, and an array of activities greet the new community members. The community also opens its Health Center, providing skilled nursing services for community members who need them.
Recalling The First Visit
Long-time board member Jeff Davis recalls visiting his great-grandmother, one of the first residents at Quaker Gardens. “I was struck by how different it was from the dark, depressing convalescent home she had been in before,” he recalls. “Quaker Gardens truly felt like a caring, welcoming home, and she was very happy there.”

Welcoming Community Members

1966
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Comforts of Home
Quaker Gardens is now home to 93 community members. The first issue of Garden Press, Quaker Gardens’ newsletter, is published and continues to be printed and distributed to community members today. Inside, residents read about the variety of activities and events planned at Quaker Gardens, profiles of staff and community members, as well as community developments.
Active Living
As part of its mission to help people continue to lead active lives, Quaker Gardens adds a putting green and shuffleboard court to the grounds. Both are a hit among community members.

Skilled Nursing Care

1969
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Expanding Care
As a community created to meet the complete needs of people as they age, the Quaker Gardens campus adds an additional 20 beds to its onsite skilled nursing facility, known as the Health Center. From its earliest days, Health Center nurses and caregivers go out of their way to provide an extraordinary level of compassionate care.

“When one of my friends became ill, the Health Center welcomed her immediately into their care. I was moved by their care with open loving arms.”
— Virginia Canfield

Community Dining

1970
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Garden Dining
Quaker Gardens opens its newest dining room, the Garden Room, which welcomes community members to enjoy their meals with friends and family. Interestingly, this room was previously used to house a resident’s extensive rock collection, which was donated to a museum.

The Garden Room quickly becomes a favorite for the early-bird lunch crowd. From the beginning, Quaker Gardens’ menus featured delicious chef-prepared meals that made community members feel at home.

Room to Grow

1972
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A Growing Community
The Quaker Gardens community continues to grow, with more residents aging in place. To meet the evolving needs of their residents, the community’s Health Center is expanded with an additional 10 rooms and 20 beds.

An additional independent living residential building is completed, expanding the number of apartment homes available to the community. A dining venue is also added to the assisted living building, now known as The Cedars Assisted Living.

Celebrating a Decade

1975
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10 Year Anniversary
Quaker Gardens grows to 231 community members, up from 93 ten years prior. The community celebrates its 10 year anniversary.

New Leadership

1977
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Dedicated Staff
Chuck Hise joins Quaker Gardens as the new CEO and hires an executive and management staff to provide leadership and vision for the community moving forward.

“Our staff is very loyal and dedicated, and many have been with us for a very long time. We have several staff members who started working at Quaker Gardens in high school, and who are still with us today — including our current Executive Director. Our Director of Housekeeping has been with us for 43 years, and counting.”
— Lloyd Jones, original planning committee and board member, in a 2015 interview

Expanding Our Community

1979-1988
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Positive Changes
As the community continues to grow, Quaker Gardens acquires and remodels four houses and seven duplexes located next door to the property. Featuring kitchens, carports, and yards, these homes provide added living space for married couples seeking to enjoy a more independent lifestyle.
More Conveniences
In the main community, car ports and laundry rooms are added to provide additional conveniences for community members. The onsite library also undergoes its first expansion, offering a wider selection of reading materials for residents. A private dining room is added and made available to community and family members for private functions and celebrations.

Compassionate Care

1981
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Health Center Expansion
The Health Center, Quaker Gardens’ skilled nursing facility, completes its final expansion, adding 20 beds to bring the total up to 58.

Bright Spaces

1984
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More Living Space
Construction is initiated to enclose the outdoor patios attached to apartment homes, transforming them to cozy and cheerful sunrooms and additional living space residents can use year-round.

“I remember my grandfather was so thrilled to have an enclosed sunroom, which he turned into his office. This was a very modern feature to have back then.”
— Jeff Davis

Caring for Our Community

1985
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Continuum of Care
As the number of community members rises to 278, so do the staffing requirements needed to provide a high level of service. To accommodate staff needs, the campus adds dedicated offices for the Executive Director and Accounting department. The community also adds more assisted living accommodations for community members who require more support for daily living tasks.
Services for Every Season of Life
“By the mid ‘80s, we had more residents aging in place who needed more services. We expanded to meet those needs so that people wouldn’t have to move somewhere else. It was part of our commitment to provide the best quality of care.” — Chuck Hise, former Quaker Gardens CEO

Assisted Living

1988
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Residential Buildings Expanded
Always evolving to meet the changing needs of its community members, through every season of life, Quaker Gardens completes expansion of the campus’s independent and assisted living residential buildings. With increased living space and staff assistance for residents requiring additional help, the community is able to welcome more assisted living community members. These residents note the extraordinary level of compassion and devotion from staff.

“The staff provides service beyond what is expected. Such kindness makes us all feel at home and well cared for.”
— Joanne Macy

Patio dining

The community also adds a second dining room known as the Patio Room, overlooking the beautiful gardens. On the suggestion of several staff members, the Patio Room is designed with a Monet theme. Community members enjoy the al fresco French-style dining as well as the lovely views.

Another Milestone

1990
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25th Anniversary
Quaker Gardens celebrates its 25th anniversary with community members, family members, and staff. Party-goers enjoy live music, clowns, balloons, outdoor dining, cotton candy and popcorn machines, games and excellent company.

More Services

1991
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Gardens Gift Shop
Quaker Gardens’ onsite Country Store is moved into the main building, and renamed the Gardens Gift Shop. Run by community member volunteers, the Gardens Gift Shop sells a wide range of supplies and gifts for the residents’ and visitors’ convenience.
Sunday Services
This same year, resident and retired church leader Billy Lewis asks the Quaker Gardens board for permission to perform Sunday morning services at the onsite chapel. Previously, the chapel had held vespers — sunset evening prayers — but no Sunday services. With the addition of Sunday worship, community members no longer have to be bussed to services at outside churches, and enjoy fellowship with their friends and neighbors right here in the community.

Gardens Memory Care

1995
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Gardens Memory Care Opens
With 293 community members at Quaker Gardens, CEO Chuck Hise realizes the need for specialized care for residents living with dementia and other memory-related conditions. To provide for this need, Quaker Gardens constructs and modifies a building dedicated to providing qualify memory care. Originally called the Secured Living Center, this building became known as Gardens Memory Care. Quaker Gardens is the first Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) in Orange County and one of the first in California to offer a licensed memory care facility.
A Secure Setting
The building is remodeled with a new glass door to let in natural light, an attached dining and activity room, and security features. The secure setting is especially important for those community members with Alzheimer’s and dementia who may be at risk of wandering off and losing their way.
Peace of Mind
Original board member Lloyd Jones recalls his relief at hearing that an onsite 24-hour memory care facility would be available at Quaker Gardens for his wife, who had Alzheimer’s. “The addition of Gardens Memory Care is a very, very important part of our history,” he says. “Now we were able to provide five levels of care to meet the needs of our residents: independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing, rehab services, and memory care.”
Chapel Upgrades
This same year, the Chapel is remodeled and expanded to bring it up to code with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Upgrades include new carpet, paint and pews.

Certified Quality

1999
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Medicare Certification
Quaker Gardens’ Health Center and skilled nursing services become Medicare-certified to ensure enhanced coverage for people both in and outside of the community requiring skilled nursing and rehab services.

Fun in the Sun

2000
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Mini-Golf Makeover
Feeling the effects of time, the community’s aging putting green and shuffleboard get a make-over. Community members once again enjoy playing rounds of mini-golf on the lush greens and shuffleboard with their neighbors, family members and guests.

“The activities available for residents have tripled since I started with the community 43 years ago. It’s been great working for a community that is constantly trying to make the lives of residents better.” — Eileen Desjardins, Rowntree Gardens Director of Housekeeping

California Living

2004-2010
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Enjoying the Outdoors
To enable community members to better enjoy Southern California’s ideal year-round climate, the community adds a large gazebo near the assisted living residences, a small gazebo leading to the courtyard where the American flag waves, and two gazebos next to one of the independent living residential buildings. Community members to this day enjoy sitting in the shade of gazebos with visiting loved ones, looking over the tranquil gardens.

Four Decades

2005
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40th Anniversary
Quaker Gardens celebrates its 40th anniversary by participating in the local community’s Strawberry Festival. 271 community members now call Quaker Gardens home. As the region struggles through the economic recession of the early 2000s, Quaker Gardens continues to provide an affordable senior living community for people seeking exceptional care and a full range of services.

Proven Quality

2012
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5-Star Rating
After months of careful assessment and planning, and a rigorous review by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Health Center receives its first 5-star rating from Medicare — the highest score awarded by the agency. A 5-star rating indicates that the facility provides health standards and care that are significantly above the average of other skilled nursing facilities in the nation.

More than meeting CMS’s minimal requirements for a 5-star rating, the skilled nursing staff goes above and beyond to provide the highest possible quality of care for community members. The skilled nursing facility continues to maintain its 5-star status to date.

A New Identity

2014
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Introducing Rowntree Gardens
After nearly 50 years of welcoming people as Quaker Gardens, the community embraces a new name and logo as Rowntree Gardens. Inspired by British business leader and Quaker philanthropist Joseph Rowntree, the new identity reflects the community’s renewed promise to provide for the complete physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing of people through every season of life, for the next 50 years and beyond. Along with a new name, Rowntree Gardens introduces a new tagline that encapsulates the community’s approach to care: “Where devotion meets compassion.”
Special Launch Event
The new name and identity is introduced to the community at a special launch event featuring food from local Stanton restaurants, balloon artists, a photo and story booth, give-aways and raffle prizes. The new identity is very well received. Attendees are invited to preview the new Rowntree Gardens’ logo, a comprehensive package of new collateral materials including informative brochures, and a new website at RowntreeGardens.org.
New Community Names
As part of the rebrand, key community areas are renamed to reflect the welcoming, nurturing environment at Rowntree Gardens. Renamed areas include Acacia Independent Living, The Cedars Assisted Living, Elmwood Care Center Skilled Nursing, New Leaf Rehab Agency, Bookmark Library, Fireside Dining Room and Lounge, and Heartwood Chapel.
Why the Change?
“We felt the time was right. We wanted a new name that would represent us for the next 50 years as a trusted community resource. We searched long and hard for a name and identity that would honor our heritage, support our values, and reflect our renewed commitment to serve people from all walks of life. The name also reflects the beautiful, tranquil setting we’ve created here. Last but not least, the name suggests our community’s extended family tree that includes our residents, their families, and our staff.” — Randy Brown, Rowntree Gardens CEO

Half a Century

2015
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Living Our Promise for 50 Years
Rowntree Gardens celebrates its 50th anniversary and rich heritage as Quaker Gardens. The theme for this major milestone is “Living our promise for 50 years,” reflecting the staff’s promise to be a daily blessing to everyone they encounter — through kindness, compassion, hope and an extraordinary level of care and devotion.
Major Renovations
This same year, the community begins major renovations and upgrades across the campus. Completed renovations include a beautiful new covered walkway and welcoming entrance; main parking lot improvements; new outdoor landscaping; outdoor lounge, barbeque and seating area that is very popular with community members; new Fireside dining room carpet, furniture, ceiling and fixtures; and new signage featuring the Rowntree Gardens’ logo.
Future Vision
Renovations will continue throughout the year, and include extensive remodeling for the main lobby and receptionist area, Fireside lounge, furnishings, Bookmark Library, Gardens Gift Shop, private dining room, and activity lounges. Plans are under way for improvements to apartment homes as well.
Building on the Foundation
“Rowntree Gardens is built on a solid foundation. Our buildings are well constructed and have such a history of quality care behind them. Now it’s time to modernize our community, to bring more conveniences and amenities to our community members. We have always strived to meet the needs of the people who call this community home. Providing the most comfortable and attractive environment possible is a key part of meeting those needs.”
— Richard Nordsiek, Rowntree Gardens Executive Director

One of the area’s few licensed, not-for-profit Continuing Care retirement Communities (CCRC) that provides a full range of integrated onsite services to meet the changing needs of active seniors.
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