Members, coworkers, friends and family of Beth Smith gathered together in Dacier Manor on Dec. 14, to celebrate her retirement after 36 and a half years of service to Advent Christian Village. Throughout her years at ACV, Beth has touched the lives of many people.
Beth was born and raised in Maine. She attended the University of Maine for her first year of college and transferred to Berkshire Christian College in Lenox, Mass. to complete her education.
After moving to Florida in 1982, Beth was a houseparent for the children’s program at Advent Christian Village (ACV). She also became the coordinator for a one-year grant project to go out into Suwannee and Lafayette counties to ensure that indigent people were receiving the services they needed.
Once the grant ended, Beth began working in community care for the elderly at ACV. During this time, she was asked to help jumpstart an assisted living facility, as the Village wanted to develop transitional housing to fill the gap between independent living and nursing home care. The program began in one of the cottages that had been used for the children’s program. Within a year, construction on Dacier Manor was completed and its residents moved in to their new home. Beth became the Director for Assisted Living Services.
When asked about some of her favorite memories at ACV, Beth responded without hesitation, “Definitely the assisted living adventure, because I was able to grow in the program, build up self-esteem and confidence.”
However, Beth admitted it was extremely difficult to pick just one favorite memory. Beth’s love for the people is evident. She still maintains contact with families whose loved ones have passed away. She continued to express that she has met many wonderful people, maintains great friendships and has no regrets.
“When you are with the elderly, everyone has a story, a lesson, if we just slow down and listen—because they want to tell you anyway—what they have lived through, changes they’ve seen,” she states.
Not only does Beth encourage her staff to get to know the residents, but their families as well.
“We go out of our way to get to know the family members of the residents,” Beth said. “It makes the family feel a part of the program and that they, too, are caring for their loved one.”
Beth continuously encouraged employees to come to work with a smile on their faces and to treat residents like their own grandparents. She believes that Dacier Manor is a great place for college and high school students to work and discover if health care would be a good fit for them.
“If you don’t love the elderly, this is not the job you want to be in,” Beth said. “They want to be respected and given dignity, and cared for.”
Beth mentioned the importance of teamwork when working in a place like Dacier Manor and worked to instill strong teamwork within her staff. She compared teaching to coaching, that coaches inspire and teach life lessons.
“I feel like I’ve been there to support them, encourage them,” Beth said, “I feel like the staff and the residents are my family.”
Along with Dacier Manor, another passion of Beth’s is sports. She played many sports competitively in high school and college. She even played on the men’s church softball team here at the Village when she moved to the area.
In fact, she met Allan, her husband of 22 years, at a softball game in Lake City, Fla. She was playing in a women’s league and friends of Beth invited Allan to the game.
“It was love at first sight,” Beth says happily. When they married, the wedding took place at Dacier Manor.
Beth has two children, Josh Hanusek and Lisa Gill. Lisa is married to Kelley Gill and their daughter, Kathryn, is Beth’s only grandchild.
What are Beth’s plans following retirement? She plans to spend time with her family. She is looking to catch fish in the Gulf of Mexico on their boat, as well as taking some trips to see friends around the southeast. Beth and Allan are also looking forward to a trip to Maine this summer.
While the community is excited for Beth in her retirement, she is missed. Dacier Manor remains in good hands, however, as former assistant director Crystal Delcastillo took on the role of Director and is leading in the same energetic, compassionate way that Beth modeled for many years.