top of page

Building blocks of community: Donor bricks retrieved ahead of Good Sam demolition

By Garrett Ammesmaki,


As the Good Samaritan building is torn down, a piece of Lennox is brought to rubble.

To former Good Sam employee Debra Best, the building was a pillar of the Lennox community, and a crucial piece of her own family history.

“I grew up in that nursing home,” said Best. “I will always remember running up and down those hallways as a kid, and pushing residents to BINGO.”

Her father worked there as a CNA for over a decade and, when it was her time, Best followed in his footsteps as a caregiver and employee of Good Sam.

From being a CNA to a restorative therapy aide and medication aide, she wore many hats during her 10 years there. During that time, the people she worked with, and the residents she cared for, became an extended family.

“I was heartbroken when I heard about the demolition,” she said.

After 65 years, Good Sam wasn’t just a place to put the elderly, but a home where many local caregivers practiced their passion for family and helped other members of their community.

And, while many community members expressed their grief in different ways, Best wanted to make sure a piece of Good Sam — and what it meant to herself and the community — didn’t get lost in the rubble.

When Good Sam expanded its south wing, community members and businesses that donated to the project received a donor brick with their name engraved on it. Those bricks were then laid into the Good Sam foundation.

“I couldn’t imagine all those bricks going down with the building,” said Best. “Those bricks are a piece of history for this community.”

After she and her husband heard of the plans for the building, they went in ahead of the demolition crew to get those bricks back.

They were able to pull out 81 donor bricks over two days,

chiseling them out with various tools that included hammers and an angle grinder with a diamond tip.

“Getting the first brick out was a challenge,” said Best, “but after that it seemed to go smoothly.”

After retrieving them with only a handful of bricks being damaged, Best and her children transferred them to a storage unit for safekeeping.

Her daughter then began sharing posts about the donor bricks on Facebook, in hopes of getting them into the hands of those who contributed to the Lennox community in such a fundamental way.

“I didn’t expect such a response,” said Best. “The post just flooded with people.”

Best met donors at the laundry mat after work, hand-delivered many bricks to donors, and mailed them to donors who no longer live in the area. One of the bricks was mailed all the way to Florida.

The response from the donors has been overwhelmingly positive, said Best, and everyone has been overjoyed to get back their own piece of Lennox history.

One donor was so happy at getting her brick, she insisted that Best take a jar of homemade pickles.

“I wasn’t expecting anything in return for doing any of this, really,” said Best. “Just seeing the smiles and happy tears was enough for me.”

Best is being helped by Barb Steward and Pam Plimplton, and is surprised at how quickly they have been able to find the donors.

“Without (Barb and Pam), these bricks wouldn’t be going out as fast as they are,” she said.

Some of the donor bricks were funded by businesses that have since closed their doors, and will be donated to the Lennox History Museum.

Those businesses include the Lennox Good Samaritan Society, Home Federal Bank, Lennox Area Medical Center and the Lennox Pizza Ranch.

So far, they have been able to reunite most of the bricks with their correct benefactors, but still have around 10 or 15 left.

If you or someone you know donated to Good Sam for the expansion of the nursing home, you can reach out to Best on her personal Facebook or at (605) 214-3124.

“Making sure the loved ones get their bricks is very important to me,” said Best. “I love this community, and this is a piece of history for Lennox that I don’t ever want forgotten.”


bottom of page