Episcopal Homes of Minnesota was founded in 1894 by Sister Annette Relf with the mission of providing housing and care for poor, older adult women who were being cast aside to die in poorhouses at the turn of the century. Originally, the home served just four elders and was known simply as “The Church Home.” While Episcopal Homes originally received its nonprofit status through the Episcopal Church of Minnesota , it has never been funded through the diocese.
Instead, Sister Annette was a tireless fundraiser who helped found St. Barnabas Hospital and Sheltering Arms Orphanage before turning her attention to The Church Home. In 1896, a gift from James J. Hill kept Episcopal Homes’ doors open. In the early 1900s, the Minnesota State Fair and Episcopal diocese began annual fundraisers for the Home. The Episcopal diocese designated September 22 as a day for faith communities throughout the Twin Cities to support the Home. Gifts of time, talent and treasure were also regularly donated by St. Paul neighbors and businesses, like St. Paul’s old Lindeke Mills.
In 1984, Episcopal Homes Foundation was formally established to raise funds to extend Sister Annette’s mission of service. Originally, the Foundation led a fundraising campaign to build Becketwood Senior Housing Cooperative on River Road in Minneapolis – on the original site of Sheltering Arms Orphanage. Over the next three decades, the Foundation engaged donor support to help Episcopal Homes build ten additional senior housing communities, including four affordable housing communities that serve 210 low income seniors.
Since 2015, the Foundation has focused its fundraising on helping Episcopal Homes develop care and services to enrich life and build community among the 1,400 older adults who reside in the full continuum of housing – from nursing homes to individual homes – that now make up Episcopal Homes of Minnesota. In particular, the Foundation supports a vast continuum of wellness, continuing learning, and spiritual life programs along with the art studios, fitness center, warm water therapy pool, community rooms and chapels that exist within the Episcopal Homes community.