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Posted by Positive Aging Community on 09/01/2016

All in the Family

All in the Family

What’s a family? It depends on who is defining the term. Family may refer to biological relatives, close friends or a combination of the two. Ultimately, a family is a group of people with deep connections and strong bonds—with ties that bind.

At Kensington Park Senior Living, family connections— both biological and emotional—are easy to find. From the Executive Director’s parents who are proud to call the community home to a founding partner’s mother who found support following her husband’s death, the community is truly a family affair. But the family extends beyond traditional relationships. Residents quickly make friends who feel like family, and staff members treat each resident like a family member. 

Kensington Park is an independent living, assisted living and memory care residence located in the heart of Montgomery County, Maryland. The community offers continuity of care, allowing residents to easily transition from Independent Living to onsite Assisted Living and Memory Care as needs change. Spouses can receive the same or different levels of care according to their personal needs and preferences.

As a part of Kensington Senior Living, Kensington Park embraces the company’s mission to take the assisted living model to a higher level by developing environments that are comfortable, elegant and staffed by loving professionals. Kensington Senior Living currently operates three additional senior living communities, two in California and one in New York. 

The newest community is scheduled to open in January 2017 in Falls Church, Va., and will offer assisted living and memory care in the vibrant downtown neighborhood. Founding Partner Steve Lampa will assume the role of Executive Director at the new community. He is currently building an exceptional team to deliver best-in-class care and services to the new residents and family members. 

“Both of my parents were so happy at Kensington Park,” recalled Lampa. “Just two months after moving, my mom told me that she wished she had moved earlier because she had made a lot of friends and was having such a good time.”

After struggling with health issues and becoming largely confined to their longtime Chicago home, Steve’s parents moved to Maryland to become part of the Kensington Park community. When his father passed away, his mother received much-needed support and empathy.

“The staff and the other residents were so supportive of her when dad passed. It was so much better than it would have been if they were still alone in Chicago,” Steve said.

“‘We promise to love and care for your family as we do our own’ is not just a slogan; it is really true,” explained Kevin Mell, son of community residents, Horace and Geraldine Mell, and brother to the Executive Director Mary Mell. “You can see that in the fact that we have chosen to have our own family here.”

Horace and Geraldine Mell have been residents of Kensington Park for nearly two years now. Horace worked for the power company until he retired, and Geraldine was a crossing guard. The couple raised five children: Kevin, Patty, Karen, Mary and Theresa.

When it became clear that Geraldine needed more care because of her declining memory, the Mells moved to Kensington Park at the urging of all their children, including Executive Director Mary Mell.

As Geraldine’s care needs continued to increase, the couple decided to transition into Memory Care together. Horace now lives in the Memory Care neighborhood with his wife, even though he doesn’t need that level of care.

“A lot of communities do not allow for the mixed levels of care that our parents are receiving,” Kevin explained. “It is so nice for them because it helps dad feel closer to mom and know he is supporting her.”

Two of Horace and Geraldine’s other daughters, Patty Savage and Karen Pecoraro, are very active as volunteers at the community. For the Mell family, the larger Kensington Park family is an essential part of every day, and they are committed to helping the family grow and prosper.

It’s no surprise that when Patty’s in-laws started to need more care, she directed them to Kensington Park. Albert and Millie Savage moved to the community from the home they had retired to in Williamsburg, Va.

“They knew all about the community, and what a nice place it was, and of course, they knew my sister. It has been so nice to have them here where we can all take care of each other,” said Patty.

“I’ve been here about two months, and I’ve adjusted very well,” added Millie. “I met about ten people the first week I was here. Everybody is so nice, and the staff couldn’t be friendlier.”

Millie worked in accounting for twenty years, and Albert was a banker with First Virginia. The couple has eight grandchildren and two great grandchildren. Millie lives in Kensington Park’s Independent Living complex, while her husband gets the care he needs in the Memory Care neighborhood.

“I get involved,” said Millie. “For me, each day just gets better and better.” Millie plays bocce ball frequently with her fellow residents. She also visits her husband in the Memory Care neighborhood every day. A regular participant in a variety of additional daily activities, Millie reports that there are so many things to do she simply does not have enough time to do them all.

One thing that Millie always makes time for is dining with her friends. “I eat dinner with the same people every night, and we are always the last table to leave the dining room. We are talking and laughing and having a great time,” she said.

In addition to a slate of regular activities and delicious dining options, residents and staff are also treated to frequent special events. From the daily cocktail hours in each community to the large holiday parties, Kensington Park knows how to celebrate.

Whether it is the Fourth of July or Thanksgiving, residents are sure to enjoy a delicious meal and exciting entertainment. A graduate of the Culinary Institute, Morissa Harris is now the Director of Dining Services at Kensington Park, and she ensures that each event features a delicious menu of seasonal favorites. 

“I’ve heard these events compared to White House events,” Patty said. “They really are fantastic; we can’t overstate how nice they are,” added Kevin.

While the special events are memorable, it is the daily connections that really make Kensington Park special. Having experienced the community from the perspective of an administrator and a family member, Mary knows better than most people just how unique it is.

“Being a family member and seeing that other side of things—separate from being the executive director—has been a beautiful thing,” Mary said. “The staff treats all the residents so wonderfully. This has been really eye opening to see just how amazing everyone who works here is. That’s why I see them as my family too.”

Mary’s siblings echoed her sentiments. Kensington Park is not just run by a family; it is a family. And the residents agree.

“The other day, I was bringing my in laws back into the community, and one of the residents who is friends with my dad stopped to introduce me to his daughter,” Patty recalled. “After he told her my name, he said, ‘This is my other family.’”

A family has connections. A family celebrates milestones and weathers storms. A family grows up and grows old— together. The residents and staff at Kensington Senior Living are a true family—and they are all in.

By Christy Brudin

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