After spending 15 years working in investment banking & corporate strategy at Merrill Lynch and Fidelity Investments, K. Rumi Shahzad moved to Saginaw with his wife Jennifer and three children to be closer to their family.
The move came shortly after Shahzad’s father passed away.
“In moments like that you take a step back and reevaluate your priorities in life,” says Shahzad, the co-founder of New Hope Bay, an assisted living and memory care facility in Bay City.
“I’m the underachiever of the family. For several generations, we had health care professionals, teachers and public servants...I ended up finding my calling in Economics and Accounting at Ohio Wesleyan University,” says Shahzad with a smile.
“My teachers have played an important role throughout my life, particularly during my formative years at Aitchison, my high school in Lahore, Pakistan. I would not be where I am if it was not for my teachers and my parents.”
His vision for senior living is unlike any other in The Great Lakes Bay.
Investing and creating jobs in Bay County and the Great Lakes Bay Region
Following New Hope Valley’s opening in Saginaw in 2012, New Hope Bay opened at 668 North Pine Road in Bay City, just before the snow fell in 2016.
“It was a natural progression of our footprint to add the Bay City campus where we are already part of the fabric of the local community,” says Shahzad.
New Hope Partners have invested over $45 million in the Great Lakes Bay Region and look at their investment as a way of re-investing in and growing the local economy. Over 170 jobs have been created so far with plans to invest another $50 million dollars over the next five years in Michigan.
Improving lives by preserving independence, providing memory care
“Rumi moved here with the sole purpose of starting something that would make a difference in people’s lives,” said John Czarnecki, the Director of Operations at New Hope Bay.
“Independent living is literally just like living in a condo. Total flexibility. You can al la carte meals and laundry and whatnot but that’s up to you... and they each come with a one car enclosed garage. The key is live your life,” Czarnecki explains.
"Residents have the ability to age in place here. If they are in the independent care community and they need help, help can be brought to them. If they need memory care later on in life, that’s on the same campus. They don’t have to worry about what will come next. They are home for the long term.”
In addition, independent living community members are automatically enrolled in Saginaw Valley University’s Oshie Lifelong Learning Institute.
“They have monthly meetings and seminars and classes for seniors... When residents move into communities like ours they can still continue to live a full, happy and purposeful life,” says Shahzad.
New Hope shifts perceptions in assisted living
New Hope has been selected three times as a “Caring Star” by caring.com.
Only 1% of senior communities surveyed across the country are selected for the award.
Only 80 of 28,800 senior communities across the US have earned the award three of the last five years.
“Mom and Dad created a home for you. That was home. It was a space you could create a home in. We wanted to give that back to the family," says Czarnecki. "Our smallest apartment is 500 square feet, and we are the only community in the Tri-City area that in our assisted living every apartment that we offer, all four plans, have a separate bedroom and separate living room. All of them."
Floorplans range from a 501 square foot apartment to an 876 square foot, two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment. Each floor plan is also “all-inclusive,” meaning they provide housekeeping, activities, laundry, local transportation, wireless internet, flat screen TV and cable service, three meals per day (plus snacks), check-ups, medication management and all personal care.
“What a blessing to give someone their mom or dad back!" says Shahzad. "If you asked me two years ago or five years ago [what your mission is] I would have said provide the best-in-class senior living community where people can continue on their journey of life."
However, after speaking to the daughter of one of New Hope’s residents, his mission shifted.
“She said...over the last few years my relationship morphed from being her daughter to being a care provider... I got so occupied with that, that I forgot to just hang out with her. Now when I come, I get to just hang out with my mom! I know that she is eating a balanced diet and she is getting her medicine and that she is bathed and safe and she is loved.
I was thinking about this later and based on that conversation with our resident’s family member, I like to now say that we help loved ones reclaim their relationships with their family members.”
With large, modern living spaces, a philosophy of reclaiming independence, and continued investment in the region, New Hope Bay hopes to expand its reinvention of assisted living in Bay County and the rest of the region.
“It's about simplifying life," says Shahzad. "It's about socialization, about having choices, and it's about someone who can fulfill those needs.”