GEM Celebration Month

July 5, 2018

Dear Palm Garden Family,

July is Palm Garden GEM Celebration Month. GEMs are the hallmark of the Palm Garden Way. We are empowered and expected to celebrate the life story for each and every guest, member, and resident entrusted to our care.  GEMs aren’t identified by expense or size. GEMS are about learning life stories, noticing the little things and acting on them. It’s not the money, it’s relation to the life story that identifies a GEM.

I’d like you to meet Mr. J. It’s fitting you should meet him now because he is an Airforce veteran and we’re celebrating Independence Day this week. Men and women have sacrificed since 1776 to secure our freedom and Mr. J is one of them. In fact, he came from the V.A. Hospital.  He is a guest at Palm Garden of Gainesville.

Mr. J is kind of a big deal for a number of reasons. In other words his life, his existence has mattered. He has made a difference.  After all isn’t that what we all want; to make a difference? He was married for 63 years. Who can say that anymore? He and his wife had 5 children and lost two. You should never have to bury a child. His beloved wife passed some time ago but he has found new love. Mr. J is also a big deal because when he discharged from the Army he became a foreman for a top-notch construction company.  He actually built the Gainesville V.A. Hospital.  It doesn’t end there.

About 43 years ago Mr. J donated $50,000 to the Life South Blood Bank in Gainesville. Their Mission is to provide a safe blood supply that meets or exceeds the needs in each community they serve and to provide a variety of services in support of ongoing and emerging blood and transfusion-related activities. $50,000 is a lot of money today. Think about in 1975. Mr. J is passionate about healthcare in general and about blood availability specifically.  Think about the number of lives he has touched through that charitable donation alone. The fact that he remains a respected member of Life South’s board of directors confirms his passion.

Mr. J. also serves on the Board of Directors for Easter Seals Altrusa House, which provides adult day care for individuals in the community at little or no charge. He knows there are a lot of veterans who by virtue of their faithful service now lack the support they need to sustain independence. He rejects the strange irony that those who sacrificed much in our defense receive so little to maintain their own.  It brings him joy to know Altrusa House helps some veterans maintain their dignity. You see a common theme in Mr. J.’s life story of altruism aimed at elevating the human spirit.  What an honor it is to serve him. An honor we all share because there are Mr. J’s in each of our centers.

There’s Mr. J with our very own family member Nathan Williams. Nathan is our Assistant Director of Clinical Services at Palm Garden of Gainesville.

Think about this:  Nathan heard Mr. B’s life story in morning standup. He was so touched that he simply bought him an Airforce Veterans cap and said: “thank you.”

The gesture brought tears to Mr. J.’s eyes. Just simple recognition that his life mattered and still matters today. One of our team members said, “You are our Hero!”

In his humble way, Mr. J said: “I’m no hero.”

Respectfully, we all disagree.

As you celebrate Independence Day, please know we are just so proud of our Palm Garden Family.  You have reminded us that big or small, GEMS are about relationships. They’re about knowing our guests and residents, about celebrating lives well-lived and about being thankful for the opportunity to do so.

Kind regards,
Luke Neumann
Vice President of Service and Relationship Development