Willow Brook News
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!”
I 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
Every single one of Willow Brook’s FIVE skilled nursing and assisted living centers have earned a PERFECT NURSING SCORE from the Ohio Department of Health for at least three years in a row. Willow Brook is among the TOP IN THE STATE for resident and family satisfaction, according to Ohio Department of Aging surveys. AND, for the second year in a row, U.S. News & World Report has included us on its list of the BEST NURSING HOMES IN THE COUNTRY!
They say you’re in trouble when you start believing your favorable reviews. I do hear lots of compliments on Willow Brook from all quarters. “You guys are the best.” “Boy, you should teach seminars to show others how to do it.”
I also know that we are imperfect human beings imperfectly fulfilling our mission. We have our warts. But when I hear so many accolades, I start to wonder if there isn’t some truth in them.
So, with all due humility, I ask, what makes the difference at Willow Brook? Let me tick off what I see as the reasons.
First, there are out beautiful facilities—carpet everywhere (even in the healthcare centers); private rooms (mostly) in our healthcare centers; restaurant-style dining; lounges, courtyards,patios and balconies; trees, water, and inspiring views; our no-stink nursing homes.
Our facilities are really nice, that’s true. But we can have the most gorgeous communities on the planet, and that isn’t the end of the story. Without good people, we are nothing. I do believe that our loving, caring team is where we really shine. Most of our workers are infected with our mission. You can see it as they go about their daily duties.
And there, I contend, is the real difference—our mission. For more than four decades, we have committed ourselves to filling the needs and wants of the people we serve. We are for-people, not for-profit. It ain’t fake! We love our people and we love what we do. And that makes all the difference in the world.
With love to all,
Larry Harris, CEO
Here is the list of The LeadingAge regional art & writing exhibition winners from Willow Brook. Our residents took home 22 ribbons! Twenty entries will move on to the state awards exhibition! Congratulations to all of them!
- John Russell 1st place woodworking
- Joyce Stambaugh 3rd place photography
- Geri Ross 1st place special fine art
- Passages Crafters 3rd place special 3-D
- Centrum Creative Group 3rd place special cooperative
- Gladys Dillemuth 1st place large quilted - 2nd place small quilted
- Dianne Almendinger 2nd place fine art 1
- Peg Simone 1st place wearable art
- Gert Torry (honorable mention) woven arts (honorable mention) wearable art
- Ann Hopkins 1st place small quilted - 3rd place large quilted
- Ken Fischer 1st place fine art 1
- Nova Weller 1st place computer art
- Robert Johnson 2nd place woodworking
- Tom Mac Laughin 1st place photography - 2nd place fiction
- Catherine Palmer 2nd place non-fiction
- Brenda Spradling 3rd place non-fiction
- Marilyn Schroeder 3rd place fiction
- Del Run AL Artists 1st place special 3-D