By Morgan Lamphere, Vice President of Marketing, The Spires at Berry College

Recently, Jill Trapp and I visited Redstone Village, one of Greenbrier Senior Living’s sister communities in Huntsville, AL. The team gave us a warm welcome, and we had the opportunity to meet several residents during our visit.

Our community, The Spires at Berry College, will have few things in common with Redstone Village – the design and location will be very different, and our contracts differ slightly. But there are some similarities that we discovered, particularly with the decision that led many residents to choose Redstone Village – security, friendship and finding “the right place to live.”

A Day in the Life

We met first with Jane Scrivner, the seasoned Executive Director at Redstone. Jane welcomed us to the daily stand-up meeting, and we were greeted warmly from the entire management team and several employees. In fact, one of the housekeepers, Ms. Irma, was celebrating her 85thbirthday, and she treated us to a lively dance and song during the meeting.  It was clear to us right away that this was a team dedicated to serving the residents and providing a special experience each day.

As we ventured through the community, we met several residents in the hall headed out to a variety of fitness and volunteer ventures. Many residents are active in volunteering for non-profits throughout Huntsville, while others stay busy with investment clubs, bridge groups and fitness programs.

The entire management team joined us for an in-depth discussion of our plans for operations at The Spires. Many of these questions centered around dining and security logistics – topics that remain open for discussion as we get closer to residents moving in.

After we reviewed logistics of our new community, each manager was invited to share their favorite part of working at Redstone. A common theme was echoed throughout the room – relationships with the residents, seeing how they enjoy their new home and interact with their new friends, as well as being part of a team that cares about everyone who lives and works at Redstone.

Jill and I enjoyed lunch with five residents and the Director of Sales, Scott Bemish. The first thing we noticed was that everyone had a very difficult time landing on a favorite entrée – there were so many good choices. Executive Chef Phil Schirle has adopted a dining style that encourages eating a Mediterranean diet which includes whole grains, olive oil and fruits and vegetables. All of the food was delicious, and because our meals were so healthy– we were able to enjoy two desserts!

Conversations with the Residents

Over lunch, we asked the residents some questions about their decision to move to Redstone Village.

Nina and Bob Senn are originally from Texas, and throughout Bob’s military career in the Army they moved 31 times – including 5 times just within Huntsville. About 20 years ago, Bob and Nina built their retirement dream home on the top of Green Mountain just outside of town. They fell in love with their mountain views and never thought they’d leave that home. In 2011, after an unexpected 6 inches of snow, Bob spent the better part of the day working on clearing their 500-foot drive. When he was finished, he stormed into the house and told Nina – they were moving.

Now several years later, they say it was the best move they could have made. “Having covered parking was a big deal for me,” Bob said. “We observed several continuing care retirement communities around the country and found some things we liked and some things we didn’t like.”

They started out in a large apartment at Redstone Village, and eventually switched to their current one-bedroom unit. When their sons come from out of town to visit, they are able to enjoy the beautiful guest accommodations that the community provides.

“It just works for us,” Nina said. “One thing I also like is that after a busy day of volunteering, I can grab take out from the restaurant downstairs, and Bob and I can eat dinner and watch the news while we catch up about our day.”

Ed and Shirley Shuttock are Huntsville natives and have truly embraced life at Redstone. Ed is an active member of the Resident Council, where he serves as Treasurer.

“One of the most important tasks that the treasurer has is at holiday time. The Resident Association organizes a monetary holiday gift for each of the hourly employees, and the gift is given based on length of service to the organization,” Ed said. “Last year more than $35,000 was given to the employees purely from donation from the residents.”

Something that was important to Shirley when they decided to move to Redstone was the type of apartment and the parking accommodations they would have, but once they moved in, the relationships with their neighbors became paramount. “I enjoy a regular bridge game with my friends and we love to support each other in all things. I look forward to it every week.”

Shirley also stressed that she and Ed wanted to remain in control of their decision. “We made this choice to come to Redstone and then we informed our children. We wanted this to be about our life, and not their life,” said Shirley.

Mrs. Travis Stewart agreed wholeheartedly. Mrs. Travis Stewart and her husband moved to Redstone four years ago. After living here for one year, her husband passed away, and she had tremendous support from her new neighbors. “This was the right place for me to be when we moved here, and I was in the right place when I had to go through that,” said Travis. “I’m a happy camper.”

The Greenbrier Difference

The team at Greenbrier Senior Living is fairly new to Redstone Village having been introduced to the community about three years ago. The community was having some financial and management difficulties at the time, and Greenbrier Senior Living was asked to step in and provide strong guidance for the future of Redstone.

Cris Gillespie, Regional Vice President of Operations for Greenbrier Senior Living, was an active part of that transition. “This team and these residents have been through some tough times together, and with the excellent leadership of Jane Scrivner, the community is now seeing some great success,” said Cris.

After touring Independent Living, Jill and I ventured to the Memory Care neighborhood. When we entered the Memory Care there was an immediate feeling of calm and happiness among the residents and team members. A group of residents were led by the Memory Care Coordinator in a game of parachute. Residents were laughing and smiling – clearly enjoying their afternoon.

We had the chance to observe many encounters between team members and residents. The love and care that each team member felt for each of their residents was quite apparent, and one could tell that residents truly felt that this was their home.

Even though Redstone and The Spires will be different from each other, it is clear that the team at Greenbrier Senior Living will be skilled in bringing out the heart of each team member and resident to make this a very special place. If you happen to be in Huntsville for a visit, you are sure to meet the most welcoming group of residents and team members. Please let us know if we can arrange a tour for you.