Bluestem Communities celebrating 10 years

November, 01, 2022

NORTH NEWTON, Kan. – Bluestem Communities and its more than 1400 residents, participants and staff across four locations, are celebrating 10 years of being a united network of communities in November.

Bluestem Communities is a non-profit organization comprised of living options, care settings and care-centered services for older adults. The communities comprising Bluestem Communities are Bluestem PACE (Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly) in McPherson and Hutchinson, which provides services to older adults, allowing them to stay living in their own homes for as long as possible, and life plan communities Kidron Bethel Village in North Newton and Schowalter Villa in Hesston.

“We are excited to be celebrating this milestone 10-year mark for Bluestem Communities,” said president and CEO James Krehbiel. “From the earliest conversations about a merger of two organizations into one, the vision of leadership and the board was that Bluestem would provide top-notch quality services and care for older adults. Today we have wonderful, caring communities and staff who ensure everyday that we continue carrying out our mission.

Prior to 2012, both Kidron Bethel Village and Schowalter Villa were long-standing, respected organizations in their communities and the region. Kidron Bethel grew from Bethel Home for the Aged, which began in 1926. Schowalter Villa welcomed its first residents in 1961.

Located only seven miles from one another and sharing very similar missions and sets of services, the boards of each community began to recognize merger potential in the other as they looked toward the future of life plan communities. In 2010, they determined that their missions and visions would be enhanced by coming together through an integration of administrative operations and governance rather than staying separate. 

In November 2012, the merger became official, bringing Bluestem Communities into existence, strengthening the reputation established by each community previously.

Over the last 10 years, the strong positioning the boards foresaw has been realized, and continues to do so, with an organization that has steadily grown to offer more care opportunities for older adults across more communities in central Kansas.

In 2016, Bluestem PACE opened in McPherson to partner with individuals aged 55 and better for comprehensive care and supportive services that allow seniors to live in their homes longer. In 2021, an alternative care site for Bluestem PACE was added in Hutchinson.

Some other highlights over the decade have been accreditation in the Comfort Matters dementia care program for both Kidron Bethel Village and Schowalter Villa; campus expansions, including the Prairie Lakes independent living neighborhood and Mullet Place Assisted Living at Schowalter Villa, growth of the Campus Woods independent living neighborhood at Kidron Bethel Village, and the current capital construction project at Kidron Bethel Village that includes new construction and upgrades of existing spaces to position the community as a place for engagement and connections across the community and generations.

In terms of organizational growth, Bluestem Communities has grown from approximately 660 residents across two campuses in 2012 to approximately 870 residents and participants across four locations in 2022. The organization also employs more than 560 people today.

“This first decade of Bluestem Communities has been an innovative one,” said Krehbiel. “We look forward to continuing to serve older adults in our communities for many decades to come.” 


About Bluestem Communities

Bluestem Communities is a nonprofit organization in south central Kansas that serves seniors through various living options, care settings and care-centered services. Visit

Photo caption: Bluestem Communities staff celebrate the organizations 10-year anniversary during the staff appreciation event in August.