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Willow Brook News

A word from the CEO (October 2014)

larry harrisI am forever hearing compliments on our staff members. We are blessed with a team that serves from the heart, and cares about doing the best they can do. You see them up close and personal and know those who go beyond the call of duty to ensure that residents are served well.
Who is your favorite? Who melts your heart with kindness and compassion? You have the opportunity right now to bring honor to that special star by nominating her or him for the 2014 Second Mile Award.
Each year we select three from among our 400 team members to receive the Award—that’s one from each of our three communities. In November, a committee will select the winners from the nominations, to be announced at the staff Christmas party on December 12th. As you can imagine, it is the highlight of the evening.
So give it some thought and complete the nomination form in this newsletter. Place it in a sealed envelope and turn it in to the front desk. Winners in past years are ineligible for The Award, so check the plaque in the lobby listing all past recipients to be sure your nominee hasn’t already won.

Remember, this is a nomination, not a vote. The committee will make the selections based on a variety of criteria. We’ll announce the winners in December after the Christmas party.

With love to all,

Larry Harris, CEO

Leadership in Nursing Homes

scrippsWillow Brook has been chosen by Scripps Gerontology Center at Miami University to be part of a study examining leadership practices in nursing homes that achieve high resident and family satisfaction while providing different levels of person-centered care.

To gather information for this study, Scripps is conducting site visits and staff interviews to understand how organizations implement broad management strategies into day-to-day practice. The goal is to develop a better understanding of important leadership skills and to develop a tool to assess nursing home leadership. We honored to be a part of this study.

Quilters Create to Help Kids with Cancer

Quilters 2014

Half a dozen quilters living at Willow Brook Delaware Run have spent the last few months creating something special to benefit kids with cancer. Using donated scraps from their group and others in the community, and with an organized approach they have just completed this beautiful piece in the spider web pattern. Taking care with bright, medium, and dark colors, they used scraps for even the bindings.

The lovely, finished product will be part of the 13th Annual Celebrity Quilt Auction at the ‘Shoe (Ohio State’s horseshoe stadium) in October to benefit Kids ‘n Kamp, a lifeline of support for families touched by childhood cancer. This will be the second year that the group has participated. Pictured left to right are Peg Simone, Lela Weston, Arlene Shoemaker, Ann Hopkins, Gladys Dillemuth, and Nancy Hutchison.

John Russell - Not Your Average 91 Year Old

John said ”I can’t believe that I have been a part of the Post Office family for 70 years, I expect I’ll have at least another 50 more years too!”John Russell is not your average 91 year old. He greets each morning with a smile and a little “Ben Gay.” He and his wife, Virginia raised a fine family of 4 sons and 2 daughters. John also is proud to tell you about his 10 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren. His Virginia sadly left this world in 2003 after 57 wonderful years. John still goes about each day with optimism and counting his blessings.

John served for 3 ½ years in the Navy during World War II. His travels took him around the world a few times. John said ” I joined the Navy even though my Dad didn’t want me to.” “ I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the service, I was ready to reenlist.” After the war over John and Virginia got married and settled down.” I was trained as a machinist and worked at Curtis Wright for a time.”

John knew he want to do something else for his life’s work, thanks to his father in law’s encouragement he took the Civil Service exam to work for the Postal service. He said the exam took 8 hours to complete. That was sure a lot longer than today’s entry exam. Trying to think back, John said he was a foot carrier for 20 years in Delaware, Ohio. After that he transferred to be a rural carrier driving 65 miles per day and delivering mail to 400 homes. He also served on the local  ALC 78 as President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer during those years.

These days living at Willow Brook Christian Village in Delaware, Ohio, John spends his days building model ships ,other woodworking projects and 5,000 piece puzzles. He stays busy talking with old friends from the area that also reside at Willow Brook. Marlene Andersen, Director of Resident Life Activities, said “ There is not a day that goes by that John does not have a great story to tell about the town’s colorful characters” “his sense of humor keeps everyone in stitches” Everyday one or more of his children visit! Family means everything to John.

John said ”I can’t believe that I have been a part of the Post Office family for 70 years, I expect I’ll have at least another 50 more years too!”


A word from the CEO (August 2014)

larry harrisI often refer to Willow Brook as a “ministry.” That it is, in many respects. We welcome our old friends with open arms, and serve them to the best of our abilities. I believe we go a long way in fulfilling our mission:

In the spirit of Jesus our Lord, Willow Brook Christian Communities seeks to enable older adults to live to their fullest potential by providing housing, facilities, and services, delivered with compassion and love…

But I feel that our mission extends beyond residents to include those who serve within our walls. I see some staffers struggling financially, and my heart aches for them. I feel a deep obligation to pay my team as much as the budget will allow, especially those who “break a sweat” in their daily duties – the aides, housekeepers, cooks, etc.

Even more, we have worked hard to provide a generous array of benefits – vacations, paid sick leave, retirement contributions, and insurance, for starters. Health insurance is essential, but boy, is it ever expensive! Willow Brook covers about 75 percent of the premiums. In fact, in the past five years, we have absorbed hundreds of thousands of dollars in premium increases, and haven’t passed even a nickel of that on to staff. Still, their 25 percent is expensive, and I want to do more.

Willow Brook is doing much good. A thousand people – residents and staff combined – are direct recipients of our love and concern. Add in family members and the number is in the multi-thousands. We are a ministry by any definition. 

With love to all,

Larry Harris, CEO