Tanner News

Clarence and Helen Finleyson Endowment Expanding Senior Living Options in West Georgia

To know what makes a great senior and assisted living community, ask someone who’s had experience with them.

Clarence Finleyson and his wife, Helen, had loved ones in three different senior and assisted living facilities — none of which delivered the level of care, confidence, or fulfillment he wanted for the next stage of the couple’s own lives.

He knew his priorities: attentive care, first-rate services, access, a sense of community, proximity to loved ones and affordability topped his list.

“I believe Carrollton is a great community, very receptive and collaborative due to the influence and presence of the Tanner Health System and the University of West Georgia,” said Finleyson.Clarence and Helen Finleyson

Finleyson’s work as a banker brought the couple to west Georgia in 1980. Over four decades, he and Helen Finleyson led lives of service, volunteering with the University of West Georgia Foundation Board of Trustees and the Tanner Foundation Board of Trustees, among others. They offered their stewardship and guidance and pitched in with fundraising opportunities like Tanner’s storied annual Magnolia Ball.

But in retirement and looking ahead, Finleyson started thinking ever more about the senior and assisted living accommodations he and Helen might one day need.

During a 2018 presentation to the Tanner Foundation’s board, Tanner Health System President and CEO Loy Howard shared his vision for senior living: compassionate care in a high-quality environment, with a focus on wellness and accessibility.

“Tanner is a great organization. They are on top of healthcare advancements, with strong leadership. In 2020, I told Loy that I wanted to help make this vision possible,” said Finleyson.” Tanner Health Systems’ leadership has vision for senior living.  That vision paralleled with Mr. Finleyson’ s vision for West Georgia’s senior adult needs.  Because of these visionaries, the Birches came to fruition,” noted Rita Miller, executive director of The Birches at Villa Rica.  

The Clarence and Helen Finleyson Endowment was established in 2020 with a $3 million gift benefiting the programs and services of senior and assisted living facilities within the Tanner system — programs available at the organization’s new senior and assisted living facility, The Birches at Villa Rica, and the forthcoming life plan village, The Birches on Maple.

Finleyson believes it is the current generations’ responsibility to give back, so future generations can thrive and be inspired to do the same.  

“It’s important for the community to give back and support Tanner Health System because of their great service to our community,” he said.

The Birches at Villa Rica, Georgia’s only hospital-affiliated senior community, opened in 2021. Finleyson recently celebrated his first year as a resident.

“The care that Tanner provides for staff has directly translated into the elevated care I and other residents experience at The Birches,” said Finleyson. “As a non-profit health system, Tanner’s focus is on patients — and in my case, residents. Senior living is costly and can be difficult to find. The Birches at Villa Rica is a shining star among senior living communities, with excellent staff and leadership in Rita Miller.  I’m pleased that The Birches will be growing and opening a new location in Carrollton.”

The Birches on Maple will offer freestanding, single-owner homes for those seeking warm and welcoming neighborhoods, independent living apartments for those seeking less responsibility to make room for more fun, assisted living for those seeking connection with a little extra daily support, and memory care for those in need of specialty care.

Like The Birches at Villa Rica, The Birches on Maple will be a fully integrated part of Tanner Health System, with access to the organization’s long line of primary care and specialty services, as well as evidence-based wellness programming from the health system’s Get Healthy, Live Well initiative. Now under construction, The Birches on Maple will be convenient to the Carrollton GreenBelt, Country Club, City Station, the University of West Georgia and downtown Carrollton. Its proximity to Maple Street Commons also makes it easy for our residents to shop at a full-service grocery store, enjoy restaurants and visit other retailers.

“There will be nothing like this anywhere in west Georgia or east Alabama,” said Howard. “There are senior living communities, but the integration with our health system is what sets The Birches in Villa Rica and The Birches on Maple apart. It’s a place where our parents — and a lot of us Baby Boomers, too — will stay healthy, active and engaged throughout the later part of our lives.”

Helping seniors like Finleyson stay active and engaged is a calling for The Birches’ leadership.

“Tanner Health System’s leadership has a vision for senior living. That vision paralleled with Mr. Finleyson’s vision for west Georgia’s senior adult needs. Because of these visionaries, The Birches came to fruition. I am thankful to be a part of the Tanner’s senior and assisted living endeavors, helping to provide the very best of life to those who live in our communities,” said Rita Miller, executive director of The Birches at Villa Rica who’s led a long career working in senior and assisted living.

For more on Tanner Foundation and its opportunities to support community-based health care through Tanner Health System, visit TannerMedicalFoundation.org or call 770.812.GIFT.