Posted by Guide to Retirement Living SourceBook on 12/20/2017

Making Meals and Memories

Making Meals and Memories

In a time when food is fast and connections are made through social media instead of socializing, an unhurried, unpackaged, uninterrupted meal is often a special—and rare—occasion. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

At Kensington Senior Living, delicious meals are made from scratch every day, providing residents and their friends and families with opportunities to make memories around the table.

Kensington Senior Living operates two local communities: Kensington Park in Maryland and The Kensington Falls Church in Virginia. Kensington Park offers independent living, assisted living and memory care, while The Kensington Falls Church offers assisted living and memory care.

Both Kensington Senior Living properties focus on engaging residents’ friends and families in the community by offering meals on the house to all visitors. The communities also employ top-notch chefs to prepare dynamic and creative menus. At Kensington Senior Living, staff and residents alike recognize that sharing meals is about more than getting full.

Family and Food

With 6 children and seventeen grandchildren—all of them local—Frances Silk has no shortage of visitors at Kensington Park. She moved to the community from her nearby home several years ago because her husband, Bob, started to face mobility challenges.

“We moved to Kensington in 1955. Back then, Connecticut Avenue was one lane,” Frances recalled. “We decided to move to Kensington Park because my husband needed some help. We also wanted to be a part of a real community again.”

Both Frances and Bob had always been active and outgoing, but they had begun to feel isolated in their home. “My husband became much more active after we moved here. He was social again, which he always had been before,” she recalled.

Several months ago, Bob passed away, and Frances has been grateful for the support she has received from the residents and staff at Kensington Park. She explained, “I really like the security that comes with living here. I don’t have to live in a house by myself.”

With such a large family nearby, Frances has a nearly constant stream of visitors—many of whom enjoy sharing meals with her. Frances’ grandchildren love the homey environment the community provides.

Frances’ granddaughter Eileen MacTigue said, “As soon as we walk in, the staff knows my Grandma, and they know exactly where she is. This is such a comfortable environment that feels like home.”

This sentiment was echoed by many of Frances’ grandchildren, including her youngest, Robby Silk, who added, “I like that I get to eat popcorn when I come to visit.”

For Frances’ children, the community provides so much more than a nice place to visit. They now have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that their mother will always be well cared for.

“The staff here are all so kind and pleasant,” noted Robby Silk, Jr. “I have nothing but praise for the people who work here. I know this is not an easy job, and we are so appreciative of all that they do for our mother—and for our whole family—to make us feel at home.”

One of the primary reasons Kensington Park feels so much like home is the community’s focus on fresh, homecooked meals. Morissa Harris, the Director of Dining Services, ensures that the residents and their families always feel welcome—and satisfied—at her tables.

“I form real relationships with the residents. I have food councils and demos, and I always tell residents to email me,” explained Morissa, who formerly worked in fine dining establishments and hotels. “I want them to enjoy what they are eating, so I always encourage input.”

Beyond serving the residents, Kensington Senior Living always provides complimentary meals for visiting friends
and family members. This encourages families to dine at the community on a regular basis. It also helps to foster intergenerational experiences and connections.

“These families are coming here to eat instead of booking reservations at some fancy restaurant,” said Morissa. “We have a lot of repeat family visitors, which we love and encourage, because that means that we are doing something right.”

Special Occasions and Extraordinary Service

Joe and Shirley Earley celebrated their 61st wedding anniversary last year. In honor of the occasion, Joe offered to take Shirley out to breakfast. She declined. Then he proposed a lunch date. She declined. Finally, he suggested a fancy dinner and a night on the town. Again, she declined.

Shirley just wanted to stay home—at The Kensington Falls Church. She saw no reason to go out when they could enjoy the delicious food served at the community every day.

“I told that story to the Chef, and he put on a very special dinner for us,” recalled Joe. “We were delighted.”

Natives of Rhode Island, Joe and Shirley met at a dance. The couple moved to Falls Church in 1958. They went on to have three sons, and Shirley stayed at home to raise the boys. Joe enjoyed a long career as a chemistry professor at Georgetown University before retiring in 1999.

After Joe’s retirement, the couple downsized from their single family home and moved to an apartment in Falls Church. After carefully watching the construction of The Kensington, Joe and Shirley decided to move across the street to the new retirement community.

Even though they only moved a block away, the lifestyle change has been dramatic. The couple’s oldest son, Tom Earley, explained, “This move has been outstanding for my parents. It has added vitality to their life. They now have a sense of community. Every time you get off the elevator here, there is someone welcoming you. The staff is so impressive.”

Joe and Shirley’s children and grandchildren also enjoy the community—where family members are always welcome to visit—and dine.

“It’s so nice that we can come down and have a meal with them anytime we want,” said the couple’s daughter-in-law, Karen Earley. “There’s always an opportunity to sit down for a meal as a family.”

That opportunity comes at no cost to Joe and Shirley, financial or otherwise. Joe said, “We don’t shop. We don’t cook. We don’t wash dishes. We have people to do all that.”

Whether they are celebrating a special occasion or enjoying a meal with family, Joe and Shirley appreciate the extraordinary service that The Kensington’s dining staff provides. Led by Executive Chef Samir Labriny, the staff prepares everything from scratch and focuses on keeping the dining experience interesting.

“I see the residents three times a day, and I love getting to know them: their likes, dislikes and habits,” said Samir, who spent 38 years in restaurants and hotels before coming out of retirement to join the staff at The Kensington. “We are preparing fresh soups and fresh vegetables. We are coming up with original menus and ordering food every day. We strive to impress the residents and their guests.”

A Gathering Place

At Kensington Senior Living communities, residents and their families and friends enjoy world-class dining in a cozy setting where everyone is welcome. This commitment to providing an engaging dining experience is one of the many ways that residents and visitors alike see the community’s promise—“to love and care for your family as we do our own”—come to life.

Often, the fondest memories are made gathered around a dining room table.

That is certainly true for the Silk Family, with Frances surrounded by her many children and grandchildren. It is also true for Joe and Shirley Earley who have enjoyed special celebrations and extraordinary service. These are just two of the many families who are relishing delicious meals and making lasting memories at Kensington Senior Living communities.

By Christy Brudin


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