1978 was a year of massive change for Dave Horazdovsky. 23 at the time, he graduated from Concordia College, got engaged and married to his wife Carol and began working for the Good Samaritan Society.
“I had heard this from somebody once, ‘Pick a good organization and stick with them.’ God’s hand was on me because the rest was history from there,” Horazdovsky says.
The Society’s former president and CEO (2003-2019) retired in 2020 after 42 years serving residents in a variety of roles.
“What bigger calling in life might there be? To work with an organization where it was born in the heart of God and to have that sense of responsibility,” Horazdovsky says. “The privilege of leading all the co-workers in partnership. I always felt it was a partnership. For the greater good of those we’re serving.”
‘The place to be’
Horazdovsky’s first few months on the job at the Society were spent in administrator training at Good Samaritan Society – Blackduck in Minnesota. It quickly led to his first leadership role as the administrator of Good Samaritan Society – Windom.
“I still remember conversations I had with residents at Windom and the history they held of the community, of their families, what they still had to offer and how they wanted to participate in life still yet,” Horazdovsky says.
Those memories bring out deep emotions to this day.
“All the interactions taking place under that roof, people living together, human beings cared for, that whole dynamic. Taking that in still chokes me up in some ways because that was the calling. I felt that’s the place to be,” Horazdovsky says.
That passion took him to other Society centers in East Grand Forks, Minnesota, and Eugene, Oregon, before landing in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in 1989. Coaching and developing staff as a regional director for Minnesota would be followed by executive positions and then the president and CEO role in 2003.
“Hard to say what I enjoyed most because I enjoyed it all,” Horazdovsky says.
‘Why are you here?’
Mission is always top of mind when looking back. Sharing the “why” behind the work is one of Horazdovsky’s top priorities.
“It’s easy to get off the mark (in business). Well, why are you here? What’s the purpose?” Horazdovsky would ask his team. “Born in the heart of God. Sharing God’s love in word and deed.”
Despite constant regulation and reimbursement challenges in the long-term care industry during his time, it helped that the organization had a strong history of caring for those in need.
“That would often be my message in D.C. Let’s not forget these persons who built our communities. Who built our churches, our parks, our schools and now in their latter years, we can’t forget them,” Horazdovsky says. “Whenever I saw an attack on that or a marginalizing of that purpose as a society, that would give me even more reason to talk about the Good Samaritan Society’s story.”
‘Indeed stronger together’
With the Society celebrating 100 years, he hopes joining forces with Sanford Health will mean even higher quality care in the future.
“I think both organizations are indeed stronger together. You see the whole picture, the fullness of life from birth to death and all that in between. All that opportunity to link that together for a full human experience,” Horazdovsky says. “People, like-minded of some 50,000 across the country, can participate in somebody’s life that way. How great is that?”
Watching the Society and Sanford Health support each other through the pandemic is inspiring Horazdovsky. From the sidelines, he’s offering prayers to team members giving it their all.
Whenever he’d visit John Hoeger in Kissimmee, Florida, where he retired, the son of the Society’s founder and former president and CEO would offer the same.
“He would say, ‘We’re praying for you. We’re praying for you.’ It was always his parting words. ‘Thank you for what you’re doing.’ That always buoyed me up,” Horazdovsky says.
“Doing great work is not easy but know that people are praying for you. You’re doing God’s work and he’s with you.”
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