Florida Senior Living Association Honors Senior Living Heroes

The Florida Senior Living Association (FSLA) presented a special set of awards during the 2019 Annual Senior Living Conference, held the week of July 15 in Ponte Vedra, Fla. at the Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa.

Ali Wiggins, Director of Sales and Marketing for Guardian Pharmacy, was presented with the Distinguished Service Award for her efforts to help her community in Marianna, Fla. after Hurricane Michael. She worked hard to bring attention to the devastation even after news outlets had moved on from the story. “We are no longer in the national news. We have been completely forgotten. But Michael is still among us,” she wrote in a Tallahassee Democrat column. She also participated in a special project initiated by Senator Marco Rubio to address the immediate need for funding in the Florida Panhandle. They were successful, and north Florida will now hopefully see more resources. Download the photo of President Melinda Skirvin and Ali Wiggins: https://floridaseniorliving.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Ali-Wiggins.jpg

“We are so proud of Ali for her leadership and service to her community,” said Gail Matillo, President and CEO of FSLA. “Each of our award winners has brought something special to our profession, and we are honored to be able to recognize their excellence and dedication.”

The association also presented its annual Nauti Awards, named for the nautilus shell in FSLA’s logo. The symbol invokes the ocean surrounding the state as well as the Golden Ratio of proportional perfection which connects all living things. The awards honor members who provide quality work that inspires and energizes those around them. Download the photo of President Melinda Skirvin and Ali Wiggins: https://floridaseniorliving.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Ali-Wiggins.jpg

The Caregiver of the Year Award was presented to Lupe Villareal, an employee of Villas at Sunset Bay, a Milestone Retirement Community. Villareal has been working in senior living since 1999, and residents at Villas at Sunset Bay describe her as dedicated, warm, organized and thorough. In addition to meeting the needs of the residents, she also acts as a mentor to other caregivers, frequently providing leadership and training to new staff. Download the photo of President Melinda Skirvin and  Lupe Villareal: https://floridaseniorliving.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Lupe-Villareal.jpg

Chad Carnes, District Director of Operations with Brookdale Senior Living, received the Employee of the Year Award. His attention to detail on state regulatory compliance, labor and budget reviews while simultaneously nurturing and caring for residents makes him truly unique. Carnes leads by example, working with a smile and a positive attitude and instilling confidence and leadership skills in staff and family members alike. His staff feels more capable, smarter and part of a team through his leadership. Download the photo of Vice Chair Shelley Esden and Chad Carnes: https://floridaseniorliving.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Chad-Carnes.jpg

This year’s Executive Director of the Year Award was presented to Veronica Yestrumskas of HarborChase of Coral Springs. Yestrumskas has been praised for her empathetic listening, and she often develops a partnership-style relationship with family members that encourages open dialogue and feedback. She is also innovative, recently launching evening activities as an additional life-enrichment program. In addition to her duties as executive director, she embraces a dual role as Director of Hospitality, lending a hand in culinary operations and community engagement and assisting a partner with resident care. Download the photo of Past Chair Gwen Thibault and Veronica Yestrumskas: https://floridaseniorliving.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Veronica-Yestrumskas.jpg

Megan Berhalter of Brookdale Phillippi Creek in Sarasota received the Sales and Marketing of the Year Award. Her executive Director, Kurt Greenlaw, accepted the award on her behalf and stated Berhalter is an expert at making residents feel right at home. When a family member is struggling to make a decision, she always works to find a positive solution for everyone. Download the photo of Vice Chair Shelley Esden and Kurt Greenlaw: https://floridaseniorliving.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Kurt-Greenlow.jpg

The Volunteer of the Year Award was presented to Mary Schneider of Symphony at Waterways, a Milestone Retirement Community. At 91, Mary has been volunteering six days a week for the past three years, coming in for at least five hours a day and often longer. Her devotion and sense of humor are her signature characteristics, and she does whatever needs to be done, including playing table games with residents who have memory issues, sewing tablecloths for special holiday celebrations, and creating beautiful flower arrangements for the dining room each week. Download the photo of President Melinda Skirvin, Mary Schneider and Vice Chair Shelley Esden: https://floridaseniorliving.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Mary-Schneider.jpg

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