Who We Are
Why We Started Operation Prairie Venture
It all started as a grassroots effort to address community concerns after the sudden closure of the Slayton Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center in Slayton, Minnesota in May 2019. As an initial response, a group of citizens, led by Slayton Attorney Lynn Johnson, held a listening session with state experts. The key takeaway from this meeting was that collaboration would be key to finding solutions to the community’s concerns.
Between August and December 2019, support and momentum began to build. Several concerned citizens and local groups reached out to Lynn Johnson to discuss ways to move forward, locally, with housing and service options for the community’s older adults.
In December 2019, Lynn Johnson organized a stakeholder meeting to discuss concerns and ways to move forward. Represented at this meeting were: concerned citizens, religions leaders, the Center for Rural Affairs, the City of Slayton, Hospice of Murray County, Minnesota River Area Agency on Aging, Murray County Medical Center, Oasis Homecare, Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership, Southwest Regional Development Commission, and Wonderworld Preschool.
Action steps from the December 2019 meeting were to complete a feasibility study of the vacant nursing home to determine whether the facility and/or grounds were an option for rehabilitation or reuse. It soon became clear that the building and grounds would no longer be an option.
In February 2020, Lynn Johnson spoke to the Slayton City Council about ways to shift the feasibility funding the city had offered toward strategic planning efforts.
Lynn and several other concerned citizens decided the best way to organize activities was to establish a formal, 501 (c) (3) non-profit called Operation Prairie Venture (OPV). Four concerned volunteers including Cal Wurpts, Molly Malone, Leeny Malone Beach and Connie Humphrey Shaver joined Lynn Johnson on the board.
In March 2020, the City of Slayton provided funding for Operation Prairie Venture to work with Southwest Regional Development Commission (SRDC) on strategic planning efforts. Operation Prairie Venture continues to work with SRDC on strategic planning, with a mission to “build innovative services and spaces for older adults that enable all generations to live and thrive in a vibrant community” and a vision that their “care and living solutions serve as the model for rural America.”
In June 2020, Operation Prairie Venture received a project grant to work with the University of Minnesota Extension's Southwest Regional Sustainable Development Partnership. This grant will support a 13-week architecture and design internship for the development of a model intergenerational neighborhood that provides housing options for older adults and childcare for young children.
Support from local church leaders, other organizations and individuals continues to come in through financial donations and expertise.
To fulfill Operation Prairie Venture’s mission, feedback, leadership, and energy from a wide range of people in Slayton and beyond will be needed. With this support, Operation Prairie Venture will continue its initiative to address housing and service needs in the region.