Monthly Archives: June 2014

Getting Into the Swing of Summer

We often talk about how much fun the residents of Merrill Gardens are. But we can’t forget about the other people who spend time in the communities, making sure everyone has a smile on their face.

We love that the teams that support each Merrill Gardens community are as active, fun, lively and entertaining as the people who live there. If you don’t believe us, check out this spontaneous softball game that arose between the staffs at the Merrill Gardens in Village Green and Willow Glen.

We just had to throw some music between the highlights. If you are going to choreograph those kind of sophisticated dance moves, you deserve your own music video. Enjoy!

Merrill Gardens Team Softball Competition from Merrill Gardens on Vimeo.

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Love is in the Air at Merrill Gardens

It’s a traditional love story straight from the 1950’s, being played out today in 2014.

Lillian and Ron - 2013 Senior PromOur stars tonight are Lillian and Ron, residents of Merrill Gardens in the lovely town of Santa Maria, California. Our young lovers may now need to live in different buildings in the community. But physical proximity cannot keep them apart.

Rain, shine, snow or fog, the two lovebirds have every Friday dedicated for a date with each other. If you sit in the lobby of the Garden House (our living area for residents who need supportive care) you’ll see Ron romantically picking up Lillian from her apartment. They’ll walk side by side to the dining room, so that she can play the piano for a dedicated audience of one. Some days Ron will share her talents with the rest of the community, and they’ll head to the Baby Grand Piano in the lobby. There, she’ll delight the room with musical ability only overshadowed by the smile on her face.

Lillian and Ron - Wedding PhotoAfter that, the couple will often do what they’ve been doing for decades – celebrating with each other at Happy Hour and toasting the day. Their affection is contagious, and brightens up the room.

The love and loyalty Ron and Lillian share are inspirational to residents and team members alike. We salute Lillian and Ron for making Merrill Gardens a special place to live.

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We Celebrate the Most Inspiring Senior of the Year, Luella Shell

A wise man once said, “You’re never too old to win.”  Well the axiom has been proven by Merrill Gardens resident and 99 year old super-senior, Luella Shell.

Luella Shell - Most Inspiring Senior - Merrill GardensLuella didn’t just win a local spelling bee. She was named by SeniorHomes.com as the Most Inspiring Senior, in the Best Senior Living Awards 2014. In this national competition, Luella won with a whopping 31% more votes than the second place contender.

A resident at Merrill Gardens of Santa Maria, CA, Luella is an inspiration to everyone she meets.  With a constant smile on her face, she’s likely to take you on your next adventure with her by clicking her feet together and saying “Let’s Go”.

The General Manager of the Santa Maria community, Audie Sherberg, says this about the dynamo, “Luella is an ongoing inspiration to our residents and team members alike.  She is the true example of celebrating life to its fullest!”

In addition to her love for dancing, she is always creating opportunities for Merrill Gardens residents to get more involved with the community. Two special events started by Luella are the Funky Fashion Show and Talent Show.

“The overwhelming success of both events impacted the entire community,” recounts Sherberg. The emotions, laughter and joy were wonderful to see.  Clearly it was an experience that touched the emotions and hearts of everyone involved!”

When she’s not dancing or coming up with new activity ideas, you may find her in the kitchen making cookies. Is there anything this woman can’t do?

We congratulate Luella for being recognized for her inspiring ways and we are so happy that she chose to make Merrill Gardens her home!

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Meet Merrill Gardens – Hiker in Chief Corneil Vacirca

We’re rounding out Fit and Fun Month at Merrill Gardens with a profile of one of our Fittest and Most Fun team members, Corneil Vacirca. We sat down and had a conversation about hiking and the outdoors.

1) Hi Corneil. Can you tell us a little bit about your role at Merrill Gardens?
I am the Director of Sales. My mission is to help educate, equip and encourage our community sales teams so that they can help more people understand how great life can be when they choose to move into one of our communities. I help develop programs so our team members can focus on building relationships with our future residents and their families, and walk them through what they need to know when making this very important life decision.

Corneil Hikiing2) A little bird told us you are an outdoor and hiking enthusiast. What drew you to this activity?
Sometimes keeping all of the balls in the air can get a little overwhelming. For me, spending time in the outdoors is the ultimate escape! No phones, no computers, no deadlines. Just me and the beauty of God’s creation and a great physical challenge! My husband is a fisheries biologist for the US Forest Service who lives and breathes the outdoors. He took me for my first real hikes. (If he ever tells you the destination is “just over that ridge” prepare to hike for at least 3 more hours!). I fell for him and the outdoors in one fell swoop! It’s been a 20+ year love affair with both that’s still going strong!

3) Do you have a favorite place in Seattle to hike?
I actually make my home in Wenatchee and spend most of the work week in Seattle. So the only “hike” I’ve done in Seattle is in Ravenna Park, which is lovely. But in Wenatchee, I love hiking the Wenatchee Foothills Trail. The Sage Hills trailhead is less than a mile from my front door, so it is great for a quick trail run or an easy hike. The wildflowers are amazing in the springtime!

4) If someone wanted to get started with some easy hiking, where would you suggest they start?
Start in your own neighborhood! Especially here in Seattle, there are great walking trails all around. If you’d like to get away from the city and more deeply into nature, the great thing about Seattle is that you can drive 30-45 minutes in any direction and be able to find a trailhead. The Washington Trails Association has a great website and if you click on the “Find a Hike” button, your possibilities are endless!

Corneil Camping5) What’s the toughest hike, mountain, marathon, etc.. that you tackled and completed?
I’ve been an avid day-hiker for many years, but last year I graduated to multi-night backpacking trips. Our best (and longest) trip of the summer was a three day/night trip in Central Washington (Leavenworth/Chelan area) from Phelps Creek Basin, through Spider Meadows and over Spider Gap, through Lyman Lakes, Heart Lake and to Holden Village. It was a total of about 21 miles.

6) Ever seen a scary animal on the trail? I saw a bear camping on the Rogue River years ago and almost paddled home. (I was camping, not the bear.)
Fortunately I haven’t run into any scary animals on a trail. But we did see pretty fresh bear track on the trail near Heart Lake last summer. We did have a camping trip many years ago when a bear thrashed around our campsite looking for food. He destroyed a foam cooler and broke into a regular cooler. We learned that lesson the hard way – now we tie up all of the food in a tree!

7) What’s the right thing to do if I see a bear on the Burke-Gilman trail?
Don’t run! Hopefully you are prepared and have bear spray, just in case.

8) Besides bear spray, is there a piece of hiking equipment or clothing that we all should own?
Proper fitting hiking shoes can make or break your hike! (If you read Wild by Cheryl Strayed you get a very vivid picture of not having the proper footwear – ouch!). If the feet aren’t happy – the hiker isn’t happy!

9) What are some other outdoor activities you enjoy?
I enjoy running (especially when I’m able to visit our communities in Southern California and run along the beach!), swimming, snorkeling and biking. I tried paddle boarding last summer and that was awesome! Ohme Gardens in Wenatchee had a free outdoor yoga class last summer and that was great – though don’t know if that technically qualifies! 🙂

10) In a city where the weather is so unpredictable, how do you get outdoors during some of those “less sunny” months?
I grew up in the high desert of New Mexico, so I wasn’t sure how I’d adjust to Seattle’s weather, but I have to say it is really not that bad (don’t worry, I won’t tell the rest of the world!). Give it an hour or two and it usually changes up! And it is hard to beat a sunny day in Seattle – there is no better city to enjoy on a gorgeous sunny day!

Corneil Mountain 11) What’s your favorite part of being outdoors?
I love the sounds and the colors. Hearing the wind rustle through the trees, the water running over the rocks of a stream, the squirrels squeals warning their fellow creatures that we’re coming and the sound of my boots hitting the dirt, just makes me happy. When the blue of the sky meets the green of the trees and the grey of the mountains spotted with white snow all reflected in the crystal clear mirror of a glacial lake… it is my paradise and instant “ohm” for me!

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