By Amy Talcott
Walking through the doors of Carriage Crossing Senior Living is like walking into a small, friendly town. As you enter the bright and cheery lobby, you’re likely to be greeted by Jack Fillipponi, one of the residents and unofficial “greeter” who enjoys making everyone feel welcome. Look straight ahead and you’ll notice a large clock. “Welcome to Main Street,” Jack says. “You can’t get lost in this place; you just always look for the clock—or you ask me!”
Jack’s friendly attitude and willingness to help sums up the atmosphere at Carriage Crossing, a privately-owned assisted living and memory care community in Bloomington (and several other locations throughout central Illinois.)
CEO Carrie Boone has been a partner in the ownership of Carriage Crossing since it opened in 2018. “When the property first opened, it was managed by Welbrook out of Bountiful, Utah,” she explained. “It struggled to reach stabilization, and in 2020, Carriage Crossing Senior Living took over management of the day-to-day operations.”
Boone opened her first assisted living community, Bridle Brook Adult Community, in 2009 in Mahomet, Illinois. In 2013, she opened her first Carriage Crossing Senior Living community and to date owns and operates seven assisted living and memory care communities in central Illinois.
“Carrie’s vision for serving the senior population is to provide a community that allows them to foster their independence and maintain the lifestyle they lived in their own home,” said Brenda Yanosik, Carriage Crossing’s Director of Operations, who has worked with Carrie since 2009. “At Carriage Crossing, our services are designed around the resident’s individual needs, and our goal is to put in place the helping hand they need that allows them to live their best life.”
From the single-floor, easy-to-navigate layout to the friendly, engaged staff, Carriage Crossing strives to make life easy, productive, and home-like to all who reside there.
Main Street and More
Along “Main Street,” residents can enjoy common areas; a beauty salon; a large multi-purpose room; an inviting theater; a chapel; a bistro with a fireplace; a library; a billiards room; two courtyards; and a dining room overlooking a patio.
Residents in assisted living have their choice of apartments they furnish with their own furniture and belongings for a more home-like environment. If needed, they’re assisted with daily activities such as bathing, medication management, nutritional support, and more.
Kaleigh Newsome is Carriage Crossing’s Community Relations Director. “We have 56 assisted living apartments, and we provide nursing services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,” she explained. “Whether it’s a registered nurse, licensed practical nurse, or certified nursing assistant, there is always a member of our qualified team to assist with care needs.” A workout room offers stationary bikes, weights, chair exercises and more, and their EmpowerMe wellness and therapy program provides licensed physical, occupational, and speech therapists on site.
For residents dealing with memory loss, Carriage Crossing’s Memory Care wing, with 24 private apartments, provides a safe, comfortable environment that includes a dining room, a cozy common area, and a sunroom overlooking the day care next door, where residents can enjoy watching the children play outside in the nice weather.
Lyn Mounce brought her aunt, Marilyn, to Carriage Crossing after it became too much for her to live independently out in California. “I looked at a lot of places,” said Lyn, “and there were three things that were very important to me: comfort, safety, and community. Carriage Crossing offered all that and beyond.”
Lyn said her aunt was first in assisted living, but memory issues required her to have a higher level of care. “It was nice because there were already some familiar faces there, and she’s still able to have her own apartment,” she explained. “My aunt is a very outgoing person who thrives in people environments, and they keep her plenty busy with all the activities they have going on.”
“All staff participate in a structured dementia-specific orientation prior to working with any resident in our community, regardless of the role they are filling,” explained Kaleigh. “We want everyone to have the ability to communicate and care for our residents regardless of their level of need.”
Something for Everyone – at Every Age and Stage
Carriage Crossing’s multiple levels of care enable residents to “age in place,” meaning they can come into an apartment and stay as long as they are able, as they age. “Our mission is to allow our residents to enhance their quality of life to keep them here as long as possible, with the help of our caring staff,” said Kaleigh.
Jack, 87, and his wife, Helen, came to Carriage Crossing in 2019. “My wife was sick, and the doctors told us it would be better to find a place where we wouldn’t have to take care of a house—you know, cooking and cleaning,” he explained. “Before she passed away, she told me, ‘You better stay here because you might burn the house down if you try to cook a meal for yourself.’ So, I decided to stay and haven’t regretted it one bit.”
Jack loves nothing more than helping others, particularly Dolly, the community’s oldest resident at 101 years young. She will be 102 in April! Dolly arrived at Carriage Crossing four years ago from Danville, IL. “I had just put money down on an apartment,” she said. “Then my daughter suggested I take a look at Carriage Crossing and I felt like it was for me.”
Jack and Dolly both enjoy riding the exercise bikes available in the workout room, and Jack is always there to help Dolly into her chair and pass out cards during bingo. “There’s always something going on so it’s easy to stay busy,” said Jack.
“Our Life Enrichment staff plan many activities and events for both our Assisted Living and Memory Care residents throughout the week including arts and crafts, flower arranging, Bible study, bingo, chair exercise classes, new resident welcome receptions, brain games, board games, hymn singing, ice cream socials with family and friends, and so much more!” Kaleigh said. They also invite musical performers and presenters from local attractions such as the McClean County History Museum and Miller Park Zoo and offer outings where residents can go out to shop, dine, bowl, or participate in community events.
Dorothy Brandt, 98, came to Carriage Crossing in 2022 and said she appreciates the variety of activities. “I like the crafts and I like bingo. I go to Bible study, and I always enjoy the entertainment they bring in,” she said. “Oh, and the food is very good.”
Food for the Body and Soul
Carriage Crossing offers restaurant-style dining, all made from scratch by Culinary Director Fred Lamb, who has also become a friend and confidante of many of the residents. “I have a restaurant background, but I’ve been working in senior living for 20 years,” he explained. “This work matters in a way restaurant work doesn’t. Yes, I’m here to feed the residents—but the food experience here is not limited to what happens at the table. Maybe they need help walking into the room or making a cup of coffee—I’m here to help them. If I’m delivering food to their room if they’re under the weather, I’ll stick around and talk for a while. It’s important to feed their bodies, but it’s also important to feed their souls.”
One way he does that, he says, is by listening. “I want my residents to know they have a voice,” he explained. “For instance, this generation—they all cooked. I made them meatloaf —with breadcrumbs—like I’ve always made it. Well back when they made meatloaf they used oats—and they told me that. So that’s how I make my meatloaf for them now.”
Fred’s relationship with the residents echoes the community warmth you feel when you walk in the door. “We all get to know each other—staff and residents,” he said. “For instance, I can tell you that Jack was born in 1935; he was an ironworker and he built bridges. His favorite performer is Frank Sinatra and he listens to audiobooks.”
When Fred leaves at the end of the day, he usually passes Jack at the front door. “We might have a five-minute chat and it’s five minutes well spent for both of us,” he said. “We should all take the time to listen and try to brighten each other’s day.”
“Brightening each other’s day” seems to be a theme throughout Carriage Crossing—from the caring, compassionate staff and the friendly, helpful residents to the wealth of activities and familiar comforts of home. Perhaps Jack himself said it best: “As far as I’m concerned, I don’t think you can find a better place to be.”
Carriage Crossing is located at 1402 Leslie Drive in Bloomington. For information or to schedule a tour, please call Kaleigh Newsome, Community Relations Director, at 309-603-2500 or visit carriagecrossingsl.com to learn more about their communities across central Illinois in Bloomington, Champaign, Arcola, Rochester, Decatur, Taylorville, and Paris.