Stories from Brookcrest

Feb 27, 2020

Brookcrest Valentines Day celebrations

“Cooking Captain” Donna Essenburg sells chocolate covered strawberries on Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day 2020 was a snowy day in West Michigan, but inside Brookcrest was warm and cheery. Residents and staff filled the cozy Brookcrest lobby, visiting with each other and waiting for some special chocolate dipped strawberries to go on sale. The strawberries were prepared that morning by Brookcrest’s Cooking Club. This group of residents, unofficially led by “cooking captain” Donna Essenburg, meets once a week to prepare family recipes and homemade goodies. On Valentine’s Day, strawberry sales went toward t-shirts for staff and residents to wear in the Fourth of July parade and the Alzheimer’s walk.

If you spend time at Brookcrest, you’ll realize that it doesn’t have to be a holiday to find special moments and heartwarming stories. Simply begin asking people what Brookcrest means to them and you’ll hear some amazing testimonies.

Suzanne & Murphy: Brookcrest Means Community

Around lunchtime, you’ll probably find Suzanne behind the front desk. Suzanne has been volunteering at Brookcrest for over ten years. She and her service dog, Murphy (a five-year-old border collie), watch the front desk every weekday so other staff members can eat lunch. Suzanne answers the phone, greets visitors, and has a smile and kind word for every resident that passes. She knows nearly every staff member and resident by name and greets many of the visitors by name as well. Murphy is just as sociable and often leaves the desk to greet old friends and introduce himself to new ones.

After lunch, Suzanne and Murphy visit residents in their rooms. Murphy has an uncanny knack of knowing where he’s needed most, whether that’s in the recreational therapy department, visiting a particular resident’s room, or taking a quick nap on the sofa in the lobby with someone who needs his comforting presence. Murphy helps motivate residents to complete their physical therapy exercises and will use his calming presence to help others concentrate during Suzanne’s monthly Story Hour.

Even though Suzanne has volunteered at many other places, she thinks nothing comes close to Brookcrest. The staff and residents supported Suzanne through a series of devastating family illnesses and she feels blessed to be able to give back to this community. There’s nowhere else she’d rather be, because this has become part of her family. Make sure to say “hello” to Suzanne and Murphy if you visit Brookcrest!

Brookcrest resident sitting with service dog Murphy

A Brookcrest resident spends time visiting with service dog Murphy

Ralph & Carol: Brookcrest Means Care

Ralph and Carol didn’t plan on a transition to Brookcrest. They had decided to make the move to an Independent Living home so they could enjoy their retirement without the worry and expense of maintaining a house. They enjoyed eight happy months at Sunset before Ralph suffered a stroke.

After three weeks of rehabilitation at Mary Free Bed, Ralph was ready to come home. However, they soon realized it would be impossible to go back to the way life used to be. Ralph needed a wheelchair, was still very weak, and had difficulty speaking. Ralph was transitioned from their first Sunset home to Brookcrest where he could receive the level of care he needed.

It’s been three years since Ralph’s stroke, and Carol visits everyday. He had to relearn how to do everyday things like eating and writing. While Ralph still experiences trouble speaking, he hasn’t lost the ability to sing. In fact, when the couple attends hymn-sings, Ralph remembers every single word without the music. Ralph and Carol also enjoy doing puzzles together, attending devotionals, and joining in other community activities. Recently, they rented one of Brookcrest’s community rooms and hosted a gathering with their children and grandchildren.

Ralph and Carol’s journey has not been an easy one, but the couple maintains an extremely positive outlook on life. They are thankful for the way Sunset transitioned them to a different level of care after Ralph’s stroke and they love how Sunset’s Christian values are reflected by the caring and compassionate staff. They have found Brookcrest to be a place where residents and family members can count on love and support no matter the physical circumstances.

Ron & Judi: Brookcrest Means Family

Brookcrest was also there for Ron and his wife when they needed help. Over the course of a few short months, Judi’s Alzheimer’s rapidly worsened and Ron needed to find a place that could provide her with around-the-clock care. Ron found Judi a temporary facility near Lansing, but he still needed a place that would care for her long-term. In a way that could only be described as God’s perfect timing, Brookcrest called and offered Judi a home.

Ever since then, Ron has been amazed at the compassion demonstrated by Brookcrest’s staff. With tears in his eyes, Ron describes every staff member as an angel and will recount endless stories of their love and support. Brookcrest has only taken care of Judi, but they have supported and encouraged Ron every step of the way.

Ron, in turn, does everything he can to give back to Brookcrest staff, working to ensure they are recognized for the seemingly endless compassion they give to residents and family members. Brookcrest has become like family and Ron is grateful to be a part of its story of care.

Brookcrest Means Love

These stories are just a few of the ones you might hear while visiting Brookcrest. Residents, families, staff members, and volunteers are all eager to share their testimonies of how Brookcrest has made a difference in their lives. The staff’s commitment to each other and to residents is extraordinary. Their mission of providing quality services for senior adults in a spirit of Christain love comes alive at Brookcrest. This is truly a special place, a place where residents and families find community, love, and support as they experience the adventures of life.

We’d love for you to experience life at Sunset for yourself. Each of our four communities is uniquely equipped to provide high-quality care and senior living options. Schedule a tour and explore what it means to be a part of our community.