The difference that distinguishes Camellia Place Assisted Living & Memory Care is evident as soon as you drive onto the 8-acre property. The community is designed as a neighborhood of six cottage homes laid out on one campus, rather than one or two large buildings.
Each Southern-style home has up to 16 residents who share a living and dining space that opens to a front porch and back patio. The cottages maintain a home feel with large windows drawing in natural lighting, and gathering spaces. A total of 96 apartments are available for residents living on campus.
The latest news for the community, which opened in 2016, is the acquisition by Empower Living, a management group for senior living residences. While some things may be different, there’s one thing that hasn’t changed: The mother of one of the original owners still lives at Camellia Place.
“Empower Living and our partners purchased Camellia Place in May 2022 from the original developers,” said Mark Reisman, CEO and founder of Empower Living. “They chose us over other competing bids because we had a great connection and shared vision. They handpicked us to take the reins and lead the community into its next phase.”
A Tour of Camellia Place
Paved walkways weave around the six cottages; three are devoted to assisted living and three to memory care. Reisman is quick to point out that the residences are not nursing homes, but a place to thrive for those who simply need a little extra assistance with their daily routines.
“We have a range of residents living here, from those who are independent to those who need ongoing assistance,” Reisman said. “We nudge people to the cottage that best fits their individual needs and personalities.”
The community house is an easy stroll from the cottages; the clubhouse has a large gathering room for residents to come together for family events and engaging programs. The design of “Live WHOLE Resident Vitality Programs” promotes community and purpose for all who visit – not just residents.
“Team members, family members and visitors join residents in gatherings on Grandmother’s Park, barbecue cookouts, music, laughter and even some friendly sports team rivalry on football Saturdays,” Reisman said. There always is something new and creative to experience, even if it’s just enjoying the simplicity and comfort of a sunset with friends from the front porch.
A Look at Empower Living
Reisman is part of a team from Empower that has more than 30 years of experience in senior living management. In addition to Reisman, Rose Saenz is Empower’s president and chief operating office, and Kiley Webb is on-site as Camellia Place’s executive director. Others new to the community are registered nurse Mabel Libosada and licensed practical nurse Paulette Ferguson-Brown.
All team members are familiar with the cottage community concept and the benefits to families and residents. Combining that knowledge with the company’s value of treating team members well is reflected in their clients, which ultimately benefits the residents.
“We feel Empower Living’s premise – ‘providing engaging, purposeful communities for older adults to thrive’ – helps set us up for operating amazing communities,” Reisman said. “We believe in empowering our team members and residents so much that we named ourselves Empower to hold ourselves accountable to our only core value. Plus, we remind ourselves subconsciously dozens of times a day about it, every time we write an email, log into a system, or tell someone with pride who we are.”
The charm of downtown Woodstock, just a mile from the community, was appealing to the new owners: Camellia Place is now sponsors of the Lantern Series and Woodstock Arts. The business plan is to acquire more properties in surrounding cities. Reisman assured that as Empower grows, it will be done in a manageable cadence as the right opportunities arise.
“Supporting residents to live their best days is why we do what we do,” he said. “The best part of it all is when residents improve and surprise themselves on how much better they truly are after they receive the support they didn’t realize they needed. The stories are countless, and we hope to have many more.”