By Alexander Germanis
The most important aspect—the essence—of any experience is found in the interactions and personal lives of the people involved. People are, therefore, the essence of any city, village, or town. People can essentially make or break a senior living community.
Evergreen Place Assisted Living and Evergreen Village Supportive Living are nothing without the people who keep them running and the people who call them home.
Where the Heart Is
Whether expressed by residents like Anne, Sharon, and Judy, or by the residents’ loved ones such as Petty’s son, Marty; Nile’s daughter, Candace; Doris’ daughter, Ruth; or Bill’s daughter, Jenny, the sentiments are similar: Evergreen Place and Evergreen Village are home.
Healthy Cells: What prompted you or your parent to move to Evergreen Place/Village?
Marty: My mother had a fall and had to have physical therapy. She ended up liking it here and had made friends, so she decided to stay. That and her niece, Darla, worked here.
Candace: When Dad was going to be released from short-term rehab, he realized returning home to stay by himself was not a good option. Living in a small town really limits your opportunities for home care. My brother and I felt Dad would need minimal care and assistance with daily activities and medications, so assisted living would be a better fit for him.
Jenny: My father lived with us for the last 15 years off and on. He’s floated around between my brothers and me. We were constantly shuffling to find space for everyone. Of course, my father loves us, but we make noise and messes, both of which he does not love so much. We felt it was time to make a change.
Sharon: My neurosurgeons recommended me, and I had a friend who lived in Evergreen Village.
HC: What has your experience been like here at Evergreen Place/Village?
Marty: Mom likes it and is well taken care of. She loves to show her apartment to others, which forces her to keep her house clean. It’s a great place.
Anne: During my residency at Evergreen Place, I was obliged by the capacity of its Road to Home program. Under [Director] Joyce Benton’s warm and gracious leadership, the administrative and management staff maintains a resident-centric culture of “Happy to Oblige” service that is made-to-order for residents like me who are on the road to their physical home.
Candace: From the first day everyone helped Dad feel welcome. Not having any idea what assisted living would be like, it didn’t take very long for him to settle in and feel at home.
Ruth: Doris truly enjoyed her stay there.
Jenny: For all of us, Evergreen has been a Godsend. Practically from day one, we all lived happier, healthier lives. My dad loves having his own space again. Everything’s exactly where he left it. He also has really benefitted from the community there. Having people to sit with and chat has made a huge impact on his mental health.
Sharon: This is my home and my family.
HC: What do you or did you enjoy the most about Evergreen Place/Village?
Marty: The entertainment. Bingo is the best; it’s her favorite. Plus, she loves the scenic drives.
Candace: Dad enjoys visiting with the friends he has made. Sometimes the staff will stop and sit with him, and he loves to talk about his time in the service and his experiences throughout his working years. He was surprised many of the residents know people he did from the small towns around here. It is wonderful to see him enjoying himself and having the social interaction he would not otherwise have gotten.
Jenny: I love visiting my father. He loves to share stories about the staff and the residents. What I love the most is my dad is happy once again and we were able to build a stronger relationship because of this change. Evergreen has allowed me to be a daughter again instead of a caretaker.
Sharon: I love the activities and the entertainment, especially Bingo.
Judy: Getting to know the people
HC: Based on your experiences, would you recommend Evergreen Place/Village to family and friends?
Candace: Our family would definitely recommend it to anyone considering assisted living for their loved ones. It’s such a relief knowing Dad is being well cared for when we can’t be there; and if any concerns come up, they don’t hesitate to contact us. The paperwork was completed quickly, setting up Dad’s apartment went smoothly, and if we needed anything, the staff was there to help.
Ruth: I have told many folks how wonderful Evergreen Place was for my mother, Doris. We regret we did not know about it earlier!
Jenny: One thousand percent!
Sharon: I thank the Lord every night I am here.
Judy: Most definitely, yes!
HC: How engaging did you find the staff of Evergreen Place/Village’s customer service program: Happy to Oblige?
Marty: The staff is really good to her. She knew Mary Lou already from her past, so she’s made friends.
Candace: The entire staff does an excellent job providing their services. They are always welcoming, extremely easy to work with, and answer any concerns I have. Dad says how the dining room and kitchen staff do a great job. The entire staff deserves a recommendation for the wonderful environment they provide all of their residents.
Anne: Caregiver Shanise’s dutifulness and caregiver Suzanne’s sense of humor were perfect antidotes to counteract the discomfort of my healing knee. Christie’s housekeeping and laundry service was most impressive. In Christie, one witnesses work not as drudgery but as a source of pride and pleasure.
Ruth: Evergreen Place has wonderful management and staff. God bless them all!
Jenny: Every single person I’ve interacted with has been amazing. I am so grateful for the entire team.
Judy: They listen and are very attentive.
HC: Have you experienced someone going above and beyond or had any other excellent experience?
Marty: Mom says it’s been “absolutely great.” They’ve really made her apartment a home.
Anne: Nurse Hollie was more than generous. I had a concern about finishing my tax returns on time. I needed to produce a draft, however,
my computer failed to scan and print the online form, so I asked her to download and print them for me. It was an unusual request, but Hollie was pleased to do so.
Jenny: Darcie really has s special place in my heart! I believe God put her in front of me right when I needed her.
Sharon: Chris Fuss. She was always so patient with the move-in process.
Judy: Chris and Ingrid are great support in getting answers to things I do not understand.
Making All Feel at Home
Any household has to be run by someone. Without somebody overseeing maintenance, cooking, laundry, etc., a house is just a building. The work, the care, and the service are what make a house a home. At Evergreen Place/Village, those duties are performed by a tireless, loving staff, which includes Life Enrichment Coordinator Jessica Strack, Wellness Coordinator Brenda C., and Caregiver Suzanne Spence.
HC: What led you to work at Evergreen Place/Village?
Jessica: I’ve always loved working with seniors. I was unhappy at my last job and heard Evergreen had an opening for a Life Enrichment Coordinator, which was what I went to school for. Eleven and-a-half years later, I still love my job.
HC: What has the experience been like?
Jessica: Rewarding. I love helping people. Our communities have such a family feel. It doesn’t feel like work. I’m here helping my extended family.
Brenda: Positive. I love working with seniors and enjoy the people.
Suzanne: It has been a blessing. The friendly faces and family-like atmosphere make it worth it. There is a warm feeling about this place.
HC: What do you enjoy the most?
Jessica: Sitting and talking to the residents, hearing their stories.
Brenda: Building relationships with the residents.
Suzanne: I enjoy talking to the residents about their day. I like to listen to them talk about past life and what they used to do. I like how the residents greet me if they see me walk into the building. They love to kid around, and I enjoy their sense of humor.
HC: Why would you recommend Evergreen as a place to work?
Jessica: We are two businesses, but we are also family. People always mention how homey it feels.
Suzanne: Everyone is willing to help one another out where they can. The caring, compassionate staff will do whatever it takes to make the residents feel loved and cared for.
HC: How has the staff gone above and beyond or provided excellent service? Does anyone stand out?
Jessica: I feel all the staff go above and beyond daily, because we all love our jobs and the residents. Whether it’s finding hearing aids, picking up a resident from the hospital, helping with their laundry, or running to the store for them.
Brenda: The CNA and nursing staff. The entire second floor loves Tanya.
Suzanne: It makes me happy to know I’ve helped make their day a little better by helping with a problem or if they have a concern. I enjoy the people I work with. They truly are my work family.
All in the Family
Just as in any family, the siblings of Evergreen Place and Evergreen Village have much in common but, simultaneously, differ. Joyce Benton and Crystal Biddle, directors of Evergreen Place and Village respectively, prove that no matter which Evergreen one chooses, the feel of home is the same.
HC: Aside from geographical location, what sets Evergreen Village and Evergreen Place apart from one another?
Joyce: Evergreen Place is an assisted living community open to adults aged 55 or older, who will use private sources for the services they receive here. These sources may include long-term care insurance or VA benefits
Crystal: At Evergreen Village, our minimum age requirement is 65. We’re also the only supportive living community in McLean County, meaning we offer financial assistance through Medicaid supplementation. Residents can also pay through private sources, just as at Evergreen Place.
HC: What are some of the most important aspects shared by Place and Village?
Crystal: Both Evergreen Place and Evergreen Village personalize care to what each resident wants and needs. There is a broad spectrum of ways to assist residents, depending on their needs. Most residents are at a moderate level, meaning they enjoy services such as weekly housekeeping, laundry service, three restaurant-style meals per day, medication reminders, personal care assistance, and transportation services.
Joyce: The levels of assistance are broad, and most importantly, are all-inclusive—we don’t add charges based on each service; everything is included with our fees. We also both provide activities, meal options, and community spaces for active, older adults.
The numerous residents and staff members at Evergreen Village and Evergreen Place were drawn there for a variety of reasons. What they all have in common, however, is their love for their communities. Their love is what makes these two communities more than simply just another pair of senior living communities—their love makes them home.
Evergreen Place Assisted Living is located at 801 Gregory Street in Normal. To schedule a tour, please call us at (309) 451-9355, or visit us on the web at www.evergreenslc.com/evergreenplaceassistedliving.
Evergreen Village Supportive Living is located at 1701 Evergreen Boulevard in Normal. To schedule a tour, please call us at (309) 452-7300, or visit us on the web at www.evergreenslc.com/evergreenvillageslf.