Rob Hilton and Susan Althans started the McGregor Foundation in 2001.That was the year Rob became the CEO of McGregor Home, a 140-year-old senior living and rehabilitation center in East Cleveland, after spending two decades in the banking industry. Rob, who had been a board member of McGregor Home for eight years, partnered with Susan, working as a consultant at the time, to figure out how McGregor might extend its reach and further advance its mission to support seniors in need as well as those who serve them. McGregor Home could have continued to dedicate its endowment to direct care, but instead, saw the establishment of the foundation as a way to further carry out its mission through philanthropy.
“Our number one priority is to build out the capacity of services that enable affordable senior housing,” Rob said. This priority encompasses not only the buildings themselves, but also the service infrastructure around them so that seniors can access food, medical services and other essential needs. One successful grant within this priority area was the funding of predevelopment costs for a grandparent housing project built by Fairfax Renaissance Development Corporation in the Fairfax neighborhood. This housing was built specifically for grandparents with legal custody of their grandchildren.
The foundation’s second priority area, workforce development, has led to the funding of programs such as “Lifelong Smiles,” a dental van operated in partnership with the Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine. The van is essentially a full dentist office on wheels, and is staffed by two dentists, dental students and a professor. The van goes to nursing homes and neighborhoods without access to dental care.
The last priority area, quality of life, includes the funding of programs that expose seniors to the arts. This can be in the form of art or music therapy or even an experience like the TOPS Swing Band that plays hits from the 30s and 40s at nursing homes in the Cleveland area, and brightens the days of not only the seniors they perform for, but also those caring for seniors.