Cypress Glen 30th Anniversary by resident Doris Reed

News image for Cypress Glen 30th Anniversary by resident Doris Reed
August 1, 2017 -

Cypress Glen is more than apartments & cottages for seniors. Cypress Glen is a Life Plan  Community, “Home” to an average of 275+ seniors. Cypress Glen is owned by The United Methodist Retirement Homes, Inc. (UMRH) and managed jointly by UMRH and Life Care Services, a national leader in senior housing and retirement services.

The community is related by faith to the North Carolina Conference, United Methodist Church, but accepts seniors of all denominations and spiritual beliefs. Cypress Glen was built on land donated by Dr. James Brown Jr. to the Jarvis United Methodist Church at his death.  Church Trustees in 1980 deeded 1/8 of their bequest to Methodist Retirement Homes, Inc. “with the promise that a retirement home would be created within five years.”  

The Patient Circle of the King’s Daughters Organization donated the tremendous sum of $200,000 in 1985 to construct and furnish the Ladies Parlor. After much planning, construction began on part of the 90+ acres on two 3-story brick buildings with 105 residential apartments, an auditorium, kitchen, dining room, arts and crafts room, beauty shop, and post office. 

A & B Wings were approved to admit residents in 1987 and a consecration service was held on July 19. First residents were Frances Riddick, July 22, Juanita Riddick, July 24, Kemp Baldwin, July 25, and Cora Jones, July 25.

30 years ago, most apartments in the two buildings were single rooms with a private bath. A public kitchen/ lounge, plus a public laundry room were available on each of the three floors. These remain today on A & B Wings, but many single rooms have been combined with adjacent rooms to make one-bedroom apartments, and there are several two-bedroom apartments. Some also have personal washer/dryers, and a few have kitchens.

The first floor of B Wing was converted to a Health Care Unit in 1990, licensed for 13 Assisted Living beds and 10 Skilled Nursing beds. In April, 1990, 43 residents were living at Cypress Glen.

C Wing, or Healthcare as it is known was added in 1996.  This 2-story building contained state of the art private rooms with bath, nurses’ station, dining room, public lounges and shower rooms. 

Thirty accommodations were licensed for Skilled nursing on C-1 and thirty for Assisted Living on C-2. The center also had a clinic, physical therapy department, and a therapeutic pool. B-1 floor was converted back to Independent Living.

Plans for cottages also became a reality. In 1996, six cottages were under construction and the first to arrive on July 1, 1996 were Ernest & Marjorie Wright and Betty Foreman.  Marjorie now resides in B Wing and has the record of living at Cypress Glen the longest, 21 years. Prior to her death in February, 2016, Charity Holland held that honor, having lived in B Wing at Cypress Glen for 28 years. Harriet & Stanley Roberts moved into their cottage in December, 1996. Mary & Dudley Bruton moved into their cottage in 1998. Both Harriet and Mary live in Assisted Living currently.

In January, 1997, regular Sunday morning worship services were begun in the new Brown Chapel. Funds were donated for the Chapel by Harry M. Brown, a Greenville lawyer, and  brother to Dr. James Brown. The remainder of his bequest is held in trust and the Brown Trust remains active today.

 D Wing was built and opened in 1998 with 30 one, two, and three bedroom apartments. Catharine Herring was the first resident to move into D Wing . Jean Hampson also moved into D Wing in 1998. Both continue to reside in their original apartment.

In September, 1999, Hurricane Floyd visited the area and stalled. Called “a 500-year flood” and the “flood of the century”, the continued rain caused the Tar River to rise to never before heights, devastating Greenville. The city lost utilities and the 188 residents in Cypress Glen were evacuated to the new, ready to open but not yet occupied, Croasdaile Village in Durham. Tar River continued to rise and did flood all four first floor wings of Cypress Glen.  Much damage occurred, and residents were most grateful to employees of Cypress Glen, to Croasdaile Village, and the churches of Durham and to St. James and Jarvis Churches, ECU, and to all families and volunteers in Greenville who assisted.  Extensive repairs were necessary and the last of the residents were able to return in June, 2000.

Ramona Tucker, who was an active member of the Patient Circle of the Kings Daughters Organization, has resided in D Wing since 2000. 

Undaunted by the flood upheaval, ground was broken in 2000 for additional cottages which were pre-sold prior to construction. No cottages were in the flood zone.

Memory Care Cottage, with 12 private rooms & a lovely secured courtyard, East Wing with 18 spacious apartments, and West Wing with 36 large apartments were constructed in 2004/2005 and opened in November, 2005. Pre-sold, within six weeks, all were 100% occupied. The front lobby was remodeled and the dining room expanded to accommodate the increased census.

In 2006, Cypress Glen and the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University began a new educational and medical partnership. Third year medical students from the University complete internships at Cypress Glen as do students from other various departments. Physicians from ECU Monk Geriatric Center make regular visits to Healthcare. 

Cypress Glen also has strong community ties with most departments at Pitt Community College.                                                

Capital Funds were raised for a Wellness Wing, including a full-size indoor salt water pool with graduated depth of 3-6 feet, an enlarged beauty salon, and spa & fitness center. The new building,  topped by the first “green roof” in Greenville with plantings and terrace dining, was opened in 2014.

The former small therapeutic pool in C Wing was converted to an expanded physical therapy department.

Hurricane Matthew, not waiting for ‘the 500-year flood status’ stalled over Greenville in October, 2016, surprising everyone with the swift rise in the Tar River. This time, the city of Greenville was prepared. Utilities held but, as a precaution, Greenville Mayor Allen Thomas  and officials from Cypress Glen chose to evacuate all first floors of Cypress Glen. As soon as the news hit the media, response was immediate and astounding. Hundreds of volunteers showed up to move residents and furniture. Local families took residents to their homes; residents with spare rooms invited residents into their apartment or cottage; skilled nursing residents were moved to East Carolina Rehab & Wellness Center; and college and high school students joined volunteers to move out the entire storage unit on first floor, and then showed up to move all back after waters receded.  Volunteers sandbagged the entire rear of the property and the F-3 Men’s Group monitored the sandbag wall 24/7.  Thanks to the phenomenal response, no flood waters entered the building, and most all residents and furniture were moved back in two weeks.  A Volunteer Appreciation Social was held in the Four Seasons Room on Sunday, November 6, to show appreciation to the selfless individuals, churches, students, families and businesses, who assisted during the crisis.

Cottages continued to be built and now number 46.  An ever-growing waiting list for admission to Cypress Glen warrants expansion. Eighteen new independent units are on the drawing board and construction is expected to begin this fall at the West end of the campus.

As of July 10, 2017, there are 198 units (including the 46 cottages) for Independent Living Residents,  30 for Assisted Living, 30 for Long-Term Care/Skilled ,and 12 for Memory Care.  Census on July 10, 2017 was 277. Women number 200 and men 77. This number includes 41 couples, five of which occupy 2 residences since one spouse requires a higher level of care.

As units become vacant, persons from the wait list sign contracts and decide on renovations desired. On the wait list, there are presently three couples and five singles who have signed contracts and are waiting for their cottage or apartment to be ready for occupancy. Others on the wait list are patiently waiting for vacancies to occur or the new residences to be built.

Minimum admission age is 62. Cypress Glen through good nutrition, exercise programs, social activities, and nursing care when needed, adds years to life and average age of residents any given year fluctuates from 83 to 85.  The oldest resident currently is Lillie Hammond, age 104.

Residents come from various locations and are retired from many walks of life. A personal observation- Retirees presently living at Cypress Glen include 9 physicians, 4 clergy, several attorneys, accountants, & financial advisors, architects, engineers, nurses, farm owners, librarians, secretaries, homemakers, teachers, supervisors, administrators, professors, government employees, and even still active musicians and business owners.

Most residents are from North Carolina but a recent count showed 38 from other states who moved here mostly to be near family. Biographies reveal one resident each grew up in Canada,  England, France, Germany, Switzerland, Cuba and West Indies.

Jerry Hopfengardner, resident Military Liaison, reports that presently, 67 veterans reside here. A flag was donated by Barney Jones and flies from the Roof-top Patio at the rear of Four-Seasons Room in honor of all veterans. When a Cypress Glen veteran passes away, the flag is lowered briefly  to half-mast in their memory.  “The Wall”, comprised of photos of veterans who now live here or have lived at Cypress Glen (Gold star if deceased) is posted outside the Auditorium approximately one week before through one week following Memorial Day, July 4th, and Veteran’s Day.

There are 240 part-time & full-time employees. Many have been here more than 10 years. Chris Langley, who has been here the entire 30 years, in her words, “unpacked the pots & pans and has worked in the kitchen since.”  She “loves working at Cypress Glen “and says, “Working here has enriched my life since I unlocked the door to allow the first security guard to enter and later married him.” 

Laurie Stallings, Executive Director, began work here in January 1994. Jim Sakell, Facilities Services Director, was hired in 1992, and Sarah Everett, R.N., Health Services Director was hired in 1994. All three continue to serve in these positions, and Cypress Glen continues to move forward under their leadership.

Residents are not allowed to give tips to employees, but are permitted to contribute to an ”Employees’ Christmas Fund.” In 2016, residents gave $40,000+ with deep appreciation for services rendered, and this cash donation was presented to staff at the Christmas Party, according to years of service. Directors and Department Heads were instead each given a small memento of appreciation and $1,175 was donated in their honor to the Employee Scholarship Fund.

Without we residents, employees wouldn’t have this job. Without the employees, Cypress Glen would be ‘just another apartment complex for the elderly’, and we residents would not have this wonderful place to live.

Being older is not a reason to withdraw from helping others.  Residents donated 3,049 volunteer hours last year to Cypress Glen and to the community. There are presently 45 residents who serve as Care Buddies for their neighbors plus 11 residents who volunteer for residents at large if an emergency occurs, until family can be present.  We really are a caring family.

Residents choose to live at Cypress Glen for a life plan of care and discover very quickly that “It is not just a place to die, but a place to live and add years and zest to our golden years.”

Happy 30th Anniversary to all who live and work at Cypress Glen, THE HOME WITH A HEART!

Appreciation to Laurie Stallings and all others who assisted with verification of figures for this article. dkr