From a Village member’s daughter:

“My mother passed away in 2015 at the nursing home at Advent Christian Village. The care my mother received was beyond anything anyone in the world could hope to have for their mother or loved one. Mama moved to Dowling Park in 2007 and lived in an apartment for a number of years and enjoyed all that the retirement community had to offer. She was happy there. She made friends, had friends to go to lunch with and to ride on the bus to shop with, and friends to care about her and her about them. Mama had dementia, and as it progressed, she moved to Dacier Manor assisted living. It could not have been better. They loved her and cared for her and took over the responsibilities she could no longer handle like cooking, cleaning and laundry. They had a beautiful dining room where she sat and had all three meals with the same ladies she had grown to love there. They were friends, they were comrades, and they would sit side by side and enjoy each other’s company even after they couldn’t really communicate very well anymore. The staff loved them and cared for them and never made them feel less because of something they could not do. When mama got worse and was a danger of wandering off and getting lost, she moved to Good Samaritan Center nursing home. I have heard nothing but nightmares about nursing homes all of my life and yet not at Good Samaritan. The staff loved my mother, and they took good care of her. Between myself and my brother we were able to make at least two to three trips to see Mama each week, but because of our schedules we were never there on the same day or at the same time. Because of this I got to know all of the staff at Good Samaritan. They truly loved their residents. They truly took outstanding care of my mother and she loved them back. Her face would light up when one of her favorites would walk in the room. You may ask how my mother could have been loved at a nursing home? Because the staff at ACV is not just there waiting on a better job. This is their career — their life — and they invest of themselves into the residents. Many residents did not have families to continue to care for their physical needs such as clothing, sleepwear, shoes, sweaters, and hygiene needs. The staff would spend their own money and their own time on their days off going to thrift stores, garage sales and dollar stores to get what the residents needed! That was not a part of their job. That was love, and that was concern. My mother got sick and went into a coma at 1 p.m. a few days before she died. The news she was ill went all over all of the wings of Good Samaritan nursing home. Staff started coming around to see her on their lunch hours and breaks. There was a line of staff coming to lean over her and tell her they loved her and kissing her on the forehead. They continued coming in quietly all night, and then they started the next evening again. One of the nursing assistants that had worked with mama lived about an hour away, and she had recently changed jobs so she didn’t have to travel as far to work. However, she found out about mama and was at mama’s bedside around 2 a.m. that next night after she got off work an hour away. She kissed her and told her she loved her. I have tears pouring down my cheeks just thinking about how much love my precious mother was given. You cannot find this in a town or a city anywhere else in the world. This can only happen at ACV, nestled in the woods on the Suwannee River. It is a hidden gem or maybe a small piece of Heaven on Earth. Words cannot adequately describe it. In the middle of the afternoon, you can find someone patiently painting a resident’s fingernails, or giving them peas to shell because it is something they remember doing as children or a young mother. They can even talk about sitting under the shade trees shelling with their mothers and grandmothers, telling their stories. ACV didn’t buy those peas, the staff did. They did it because they knew the ladies would love it. And the next day you would find a slow cooker of peas cooking on the wing so everyone can eat the peas for a snack. They give them towels to fold so their hands feel useful. It fills my heart with happiness and my eyes with tears. It is a beautiful setting and caring staff that care for and come to love the residents. I asked one staff member how long she had been there and she said since before the baseboards. Some have been there 15, 16 or 17 years; some just five or six years, but it is a calling — a vocation. Even the food is good because it is done by those who care. I didn’t eat in every cafeteria, but the ones I did impressed me. Families were always welcome and staff went out of their way to make me feel welcome. When we realized Mama was not going to make it, the staff offered us a hospice room that was large and more comfortable. We refused. We stayed right there with those that loved her and gave her such good care. I don’t want to name names of those who were so wonderful because I don’t want to leave anyone out. They should receive awards or metals, or shouts from the rooftops — something to reward them for going above and beyond in caring for me and Mama. Thank you to everyone who works at ACV who give loving care to those in the winter of their lives. I love you all and wish I could do more than this letter.”

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