Heritage Woods

By Kathryn Menue


BELVIDERE – On Friday, May 20, Heritage Woods held a banquet in honor of their 5th anniversary of opening in Belvidere.

At 5 p.m., the dining area filled with Heritage Woods employees, residents, and area supporters to celebrate the achievement of providing excellent services to the senior citizens in the Heritage Woods community for the past five years.

With light, live music playing in the background, area supporters enjoyed the festivities with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres.

Deb Hyser, Heritage Woods director of marketing, opened the evening’s festivities with a tribute to the importance of senior care and why she dedicated her career to senior citizens.

As a 10-year-old girl, Hyser befriended an elderly woman after she agreed to bring her groceries. Soon, Hyser found herself returning to her friend every chance she could to share fond memories and ice cream together.

“She was the first of many to leave special moments in my heart of senior living,” Hyser said.

Her friendship with her elderly neighbor provided Hyser with her life’s calling.

“I’m lucky enough to have a job sharing compassion…in senior care,” Hyser said.

Hyser then dedicated the night’s gathering to the first six senior citizens to move into Heritage Woods-Belvidere.

Heritage woods 2Those seniors are: Sylvia Debus of Nebraska, Lillian Granger of Woodstock, Mable Smith of Sycamore, Janet Warden, 100, of Rockford, Bruce Clark of Belvidere, and Sally Garrigan of Belvidere.

“Thank you for allowing us to be a part of your lives,” Hyser said. “We love you very much.”

Heritage Woods former administrator, Shannon Stebbins, took to the mike next. He said that his one year at Heritage Woods-Belvidere was the best of his life due to the wonderful staff and “fabulous organization.”

He honored some staff members who had remained at Heritage Woods for the past five years including Move-in Coordinator turned Director of Marketing Deb Hyser, Residence Services Coordinator Robin Buzinski, and Chelsea Johnson.

Last to speak was CEO Rod Burkett, who told the amazing journey of the creation of Belvidere’s Heritage Woods.

Burkett said Heritage Woods has 44 properties across three states, which tallies to about 4,000 apartments for seniors. Belvidere’s facility has 120 apartments, which made Burkett fearful in the beginning that they would never fill.

Heritage Woods opened anyway, with 120 apartments, on Thursday, April 23, 2011.

Burkett said, in four months, half of the apartments were filled; in 11 months, 90 percent of the apartments were filled; and in 15 months, all of the apartments were filled.

Burkett said this is due to the wonderful love and care the staff provides to create a community setting.

“When we really get it right, it’s a business about people caring for people,” Burkett said. “We’re very happy to be here celebrating five years of success.”

The exceptional senior care Heritage Woods provides is due to the 1997 Assisted, Affordable Living Program Act that Illinois enacted to improve senior care.

Burkett said that Illinois may have problems, but senior care is something Illinois’ done right.

“There should be a good program to take care of people,” Burkett said. “That’s what this program is all about.”

Senior residents feel the same way.

Burkett said that one senior citizen in particular came to mind.

On Dec. 23, 2010, an elderly woman living on her own, fell and was transported to the hospital. She had a brain bleed that put her in a coma for seven weeks.

She struggled with therapy for five months. It was a tough time for her, since she lost her apartment, her grandson, and many of her possessions.

She had poor support from her family and was living off of social security.

However, she had a social spirit that was wasting away in another senior care facility. So, social services contacted Heritage Woods and they worked with her to provide her with her own apartment in Belvidere.

She quickly made several friends and joined in the festivities at her new setting.

She describes Heritage Woods as “heaven,” which Burkett said is a “tribute to the wonderful staff.” This is apparent since Heritage Woods has celebrated two marriages in the facility, had a mother and son stay, have had siblings stay, and have had many married couples come through, including one couple who will celebrate their 74th wedding anniversary this year.

“We really are one, big, happy family,” Burkett said.

Buy Viagra Overnight Delivery USA.