June 27-02

Past-E-Mail: Cam Notes - 2002: June: June 27-02
Kayakers at Alberta    ...scroll down to share comments
Photos by Kelly Wenberg
Over the edge    ...scroll down to share comments
Photos by Kelly Wenberg

Charlie at Pasty Central on Thursday, June 27, 2002 - 04:07 am:

Kelly Wenberg tracked the progress of two adventurous guys from Marquette on a recent visit to the Alberta area. In the second shot, I wonder if he made it through that foamy drop without getting too wet.

The turbulent water reminded me of how our voyage through life can suddenly become tricky, complicated, even dangerous. We are having some challenging times these days at Still Waters, the home for the elderly which has brought you this website (and online pasties) for over 6 years. Sometimes the waters are anything but still. I suppose we should be thankful for the rough passages. It helps us appreciate times of smooth sailing.

Dan Urbanski, from the Archives

By EM,MI on Thursday, June 27, 2002 - 09:16 am:

Charlie, tell us about your challenging times your having at Still Waters. Is there anything the pasty-camers can do to help? WE wouldn"t want to lose you.

By themadblonde on Thursday, June 27, 2002 - 11:31 am:

Ibid, ibid! You haven't just been building a website for 6 years, you've been building & nurturing a community. I happened across you 2 weeks ago (websearching in preparation for a trip to Keweenaw STARTING TOMORROW!) & I've been back almost every day. I'm hooked, not just on the pix, but on the feeling of caring & commeraderie that are evident in almost every post. The way that everyone who is NOT on the UP seems to wish to be there, &/or has such great memories of the place. I can't wait to see it for myself, & I would also like to know that perhaps I can help a little to support this exceptional community in troubled times.

By patron, Vancouver WA on Thursday, June 27, 2002 - 11:55 am:

Charlie, Yes, please tell us about your challenging times at StillWaters. I agree with the two previous posts....what can we do to help you....you have done so much for us with this website. I, too, do not want to lose this contact with the UP. I visit you several times a day, and would be lost without my daily fix of the UP. Please let us know.

By Karen Ellery, MN on Thursday, June 27, 2002 - 12:59 pm:

Favour, please, to ask of those actually IN UP right now. Will be visiting Ahmeek this weekend, trying to figure out how hot it will be. wunderground.com says 90 Sun & Mon & weather.com is predicting 77. Being EXTREMELY heat sensitive, I'm rooting for the latter; can anyone tell me which is more likely? Thanks & huge apologies for the off-topic entry. I just thought y'all might be the best source of info.

By John, MI on Thursday, June 27, 2002 - 01:22 pm:

Here is the link for our official forecast from the National Weather Service. They say 90 also. Up here, it can be 90, and if a front comes through, go down to 50 the same day. Which is more likely for this Sunday? Only the Lord knows the answer to that right now.


By Gary K., MN on Thursday, June 27, 2002 - 01:26 pm:

Turbulent and challenging times can indeed help us to appreciate the times of smooth sailing but I have also noticed that growth happens more as a result of the turbulent times than of the smooth times. I don't know the cause of the turbulence for Still Waters but please know that there are people who will be praying for you and many would be willing to help if given the opportunity.

By Carol, IN, formerly and wish I still was MI on Thursday, June 27, 2002 - 02:15 pm:

I have a book: The Rocks are What You Climb On
My kids tell me I always say: It always works out. And it does, and we've grown because of whatever it was. Prayers are with you , Charlie, and the Still Waters community.

The best pictures and the best pasties in Michigan when you can't be there yourself!

By Sherry in FL on Thursday, June 27, 2002 - 02:22 pm:

Yes, please let us know what we can do to help. I was born and raised in the lower. My parents moved to the UP 27 years ago to Mass City. Two years ago they moved to Houghton. I check the bridge web cam several times a day to see the current weather conditions and watch for my sister who drives a transit bus. Think I have seen her a time or two. Need your site to stay connection to my family. Thanks for all your time and efforts to keep this site up and running. Love all the wonderful pictures you post.

By Karen, the TOTAL heat wimp on Thursday, June 27, 2002 - 04:28 pm:

John, Paul & Dotty- thanks so much for the weather info. Oh well, I WAS looking forward to our trip. Maybe I can get my husband to agree to some swimming in place of hiking. I very much appreciate you kindness in responding.

By HateThe Heat on Thursday, June 27, 2002 - 04:37 pm:

I am wondering if we can expect good weather on the 4th of July. I see weather underground is saying mostly sunny and 80-85. Hope they are wrong about the temperature. Hopefully a cold front, like John Dee said will come in and knock it down, alot!!!!

By Lyn R. on Thursday, June 27, 2002 - 04:43 pm:

What a wonderful job you and the people of Still Waters have done over the years. Providing everyone with this wonderful site and so much more. Add me to the list of people who would be willing to help out, if help is needed.

By Ken from da UP on Thursday, June 27, 2002 - 10:21 pm:

Mimi and I were up at Canyon Falls last summer. I can't see ME in no kayak going thru that kind of water. I don't suppose I'd melt, but I'd hate to be the first one. :o) Our prayers are with Still Waters and you, Charlie. Let us know if there is anything we can do to help you through.

By ILMHitCC on Friday, June 28, 2002 - 12:44 am:


By Martha K., Pinckney, MI on Friday, June 28, 2002 - 01:24 am:

Me too!

By Charlie Hopper, Eagle River on Friday, June 28, 2002 - 03:02 am:

Thank you all for the encouragement and thoughtfulness. When I posted the first note above, a long day was just beginning, and words flowed as easily as the water over those rocks. Now there's a lot I would like to share, about our present challenges, but it's way past my bedtime.

Stay tuned... thanks for your interest in Pasty Central and the ongoing work of Still Waters. Lord willing, we'll be continuing this daily "glimpse of life from the U.P." for a long time. But right now that beautiful orange moon rising over Crestview tells me it's time for a little sleep.

By gc/old Mohawk guy on Friday, June 28, 2002 - 08:27 am:

i think the idea was to help the residents of Stillwaters. If that is not happening, then its time to move on.

By Charlie at Pasty Central on Friday, June 28, 2002 - 10:24 am:

Good morning, gc/old Mohawk guy. On the contrary, the Pasty project has turned out to be a life preserver for Still Waters and its residents. Everyone who has purchased pasties or become a member of our local Internet service, has contributed to the support of this Home for the Aged in more ways than you can imagine.

This project has outlived many of the residents whom you've seen on these pages. (For a couple of them, see Folks We'll Remember.) Pasty Central was originally conceived to provide an activity which would bring a little extra needed support for this non-profit Home.

Back in 1996, those needs were not very great, and by 1998 we were able to say "mission accomplished". Things went along smoothly for a couple of years, and we were able to make some much-needed improvements to the facility and its furnishings. In a time when dot-commers were crashing and burning, Pasty Central has grown stronger and more productive, and continues to help meet the needs - and serve as a fun and meaningful activity for our residents.

Around the turn of the century, however, some forces were set into motion in the local assisted living marketplace which would change the rules and re-define the needs for Still Waters. To make a long story short, supply has far outstripped demand in "sub-acute care" facilities in our area. The good news: there is no waiting list - hasn't been for a couple of years. Any elderly person in need of living assistance can move in to a nice, comfortable home at any time, regardless of their income or resources. The bad news: empty rooms are costly to maintain.

How can you help? Pass along the word, especially to folks in the Copper Country, that newly remodelled rooms are immediately available at Still Waters. There is no waiting list. While it is not for everyone, Assisted Living is a good choice for many people. And Still Waters is here to serve those individuals and families who would choose it.

I appreciate the comments and concerns of everyone in this discussion. There's no problem so big right now that a full house wouldn't solve.

And if we can't have a full house, maybe we'll just have to start exporting pasties to China :o)

By EM, Mi on Friday, June 28, 2002 - 11:44 am:

Well said Charlie & Thank You from the bottam of our hearts, Pasty Cam users have never lost sight of the main goal of Still Waters, And those of us who subscribe,do so in support of the project, & I recomend it to everyone local that I can, we are here for you & Still Waters, We just want you to know that.

By Patti, TN on Friday, June 28, 2002 - 11:55 am:

You should really write a book next, Charlie....I love your daily insights as equally well as the daily pictures....Your writings are amusing, thoughtful and well phrased...I'm leaving tomorrow to come up there....I'll probably stop in and say 'hi'...and pick up my family's supper one night.

By J.K. formerly from Fulton on Saturday, June 29, 2002 - 07:03 am:

Hei, Charley,, if I read you correctly, your nursing home started this pasty fund raiser in 96 because of a deficit, which you were able to meet for awhile, but then the deficit grew even bigger. The 64,000 dollar question: what was the deficit then, and what is it now?.

By Charlie at Pasty Central on Saturday, June 29, 2002 - 08:54 am:

Hello JK - First of all, let me correct a common misconception. Still Waters is NOT a nursing home, it is licensed as a "Home for the Aged". All of our residents must be ambulatory and just need basic assistance with day to day living, not advanced medical needs. As a result, living at Still Waters costs less than one fourth of a stay in a nursing home. Our type of home is often referred to as an Assisted Living Facility (ALF).

Back in '96 our shortfall was consistently about $750 per month. By '98 we were earning enough from the sale of pasties (and sales of dry ice in those early days) to cover this amount, and for the first time, to fund a reserve account for Rural Development, the mortgage holder of Still Waters' $2.5 million building. But remember, we had 100% occupancy in those days. By 1998 we were beginning to see more people stay in their homes longer (which is good) and occupancy rates began to diminish.

Then came the explosion of new assisted living units in our immediate area. There was a tripling of private pay beds in one year - hard to understand in a time of decreasing demand. One of the new homes was even funded by low interest money from a State of Michigan program. By 2000, these new rooms came online, with extensive advertising blitzes and special introductory prices. As our aging residents at Still Waters passed on or moved on to more advanced care, the rooms were not being filled as they had been in the past, when supply and demand were more in balance.

By mid 2001, none of the ALF's had enough occupancy to survive without being subsidized. The other new buildings had organizations to carry them at a deficit. Still Waters had no backing organization, except the pasty kitchen and Internet service which had grown out of it (PastyNET). By that time (2001) the shortfall reached as much as $15,000 per month.

So, JK, I've probably told you more than you wanted to know. The simple answer to your question:

1996 monthly deficit: $750
2002 monthly deficit: $15,000

See why the ride has become kind of bumpy?

By the way, the finances of Still Waters are a matter of public record, as annual reports are filed with the Attorney Generals office which issues fund raising licenses.

By J.K. on Sunday, June 30, 2002 - 05:43 pm:

Do you mean to say that Still Waters has gone behind $15,000 per month over the last year ($180,000 ???) or Pasty central-net has earned that much?.

By Charlie at Pasty Central on Sunday, June 30, 2002 - 08:37 pm:

JK - Your question is like the classic "Have you stopped beating your wife?" Either a yes or no answer gives you the wrong impression.

It is true - because of lower occupancy than previous years - Still waters has had about $180,000 less revenue from room and board in the past 12 months. We have done severe cost cutting in areas not affecting the quality of life for our residents. Some wonderful local volunteers have helped us reduce payroll expense.

There are 2 other factors which have allowed us to survive the past year. First, Still Waters has often been unable to send the monthly mortgage payment to Rural Development... which has been patient but firm that all payments must eventually be received (know anyone with about $92,000 to spare?)

The second source of support can be compared to chopping up the life boats for firewood. (This is beginning to sound more and more like white-water kayaking). The Internet service Still Waters started a few years ago has grown to be a leading ISP in the Keweenaw. While Still Waters is a non-profit organization, it has been able to sell its stock in Pasty.net, Inc. at a substantial gain, helping - at least for a few months - to offset the losses caused by the supply imbalance in local assisted living properties.

I don't know how this story will end, just like the kayaker doesn't know what rocks and turns are up ahead. But I do know that Still Waters is a vital part of this community, being the only major assisted living facility to accept low income elderly folks and provide a level of quality and care second to none. I firmly believe Still Waters will make it through this difficult passage.

Click the link if you're interested in finding out more about Still Waters.

By maija MI on Sunday, February 8, 2004 - 03:27 pm:

I'm just scrolling thru the archives and have come to this. When my parents were there (Piv and Joy Huhta) I had no idea there were such monitary challenges. When Mom died, donations went to Copper Country Mental Health for group homes such as my sister lives in, but I wish my brother and I had designated Still Waters as well. It was a wonderful place for my parents, and all the workers were fantastic. There is nothing like that kind of care down here in the Detroit area! I sincerely hope the situation is better now.

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