HICKORY, N.C. – The threat of snow was in the air during the Affinity Living Group (ALG) Annual Conference, but a different kind of weather held sway at the 2018 Awards Banquet: September’s Hurricane Florence.
“Our employees were amazing,” said Charles E. Trefzger, Jr., ALG’s CEO. “Over 75 of our communities were in the path of the hurricane, but our staff rose to the occasion. They cared for the residents through high winds, rain, power outages, even some evacuations. We truly work with heroes, every day.”
One of the largest providers of assisted living and memory care in the United States, ALG held its annual meeting Dec. 5-7 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Hickory. More than 200 staff members from eight states participated. Attendees rotated through educational sessions over three days and enjoyed the formal Awards Banquet on Thursday night.
During the conference and banquet, Trefzger and the senior leadership team highlighted the past year’s achievements and praised award winners selected from the 100-plus communities ALG manages. 36 communities received awards for outstanding service to their residents during Hurricane Florence. “From the caregivers who evacuated with their residents at a moment’s notice, to the inland staff who packed their bags and rushed to their sister communities to help, this group acted as more than a team – they were a family,” said Trefzger.
ALG presented two special awards to these “family” members: the Affinity Hero Award to Executive Director Lisa Ash and the Affinity Courage Award to Resident Care Manager Cynthia Boney, both of Castle Creek Memory Care in Castle Hayne, N.C. When rising waters prompted an evacuation, Ash led the move of 60 memory care residents to a sister community further inland, Ashe Gardens Memory Care. Two days afterward, heavy rains then threatened to flood Ashe Gardens. All 60 Castle Creek residents and 60 Ashe Gardens residents had to evacuate to a nearby school, during which Ash broke her foot. All told, the Castle Creek residents and staff were displaced for 12 days and faced numerous challenges after returning home. Ash was nominated for her hard work throughout the evacuation but also for supporting, encouraging, and consoling her staff – many of whom lost everything to the storm.
A caregiver to two family members, Courage Award winner Boney quickly made arrangements for them and her daughter without returning home, then boarded a bus to evacuate with the Castle Creek residents. She stayed with her residents around the clock during the storm and surprise second evacuation and return. Once it was judged safe to go back to Castle Creek, she helped move the residents , staying at the building for five more days before finally heading to her home to assess the damage – a total loss from flooding.
The company also presented awards to one Executive Director from each of the company’s internal divisions as Region Executive Director of the Year: Sherry Palmer, Hayesville House, Hayesville, N.C.; Jaylee Wilson, Springs of Catawba, Hickory, N.C.; Cindy Drye, Mount Pleasant House, Mount Pleasant, N.C.; Geraldine Yancey, Canterbury House, Roxboro, N.C.; Barbara Woolard, Wilson House, Wilson, N.C.; Sandra Plaunty, Ahoskie House, Ahoskie, N.C.; Tammy Herring, Autumn Village, Beulaville, N.C.; and Sharon Wilson, The Gardens of Social Circle, Social Circle, Ga.
From the pool of those award winners, Jaylee Wilson at Springs of Catawba won Affinity Living Group Executive Director of the Year. Her community, Springs of Catawba, took home an extraordinary five of the ten Prestige Awards presented:
• Life Enrichment Coordinator of the Year: Karen Neal, Wellington House, Gastonia, N.C.
• Caregiver of the Year: Sandy Chastain, Hayesville House, Hayesville, N.C.
• Care Manager of the Year: Sandy Garza, Edenton House, Edenton, N.C.
• Reka Green, Regional Clinical Director, covering the Raleigh-Durham region
• Rookie of the Year: Lyn Mikeal, Taylorsville House, Taylorsville, N.C.
• Dietary Manager of the Year: Tammy Bryant, Springs of Catawba
• Business Office Manager of the Year: Imari Littman, Springs of Catawba
• Sales Director of the Year: Paige Garner, Area Sales Director for Springs of Catawba and Taylorsville House, Taylorsville
• Executive Director of the Year: Jaylee Wilson, Springs of Catawba
• Community of the Year: Springs of Catawba
ALG’s region that includes Springs of Catawba and Taylorsville House was also awarded “Region of the Year.”
“Recognizing what’s going right, sharing those processes, and replicating good outcomes is what ALG is all about,” said Trefzger. “I’m proud of all our award winners. They have set a high bar for 2019.”
Affinity Living Group is headquartered in Hickory, N.C. and manages over 100 communities in eight states. For more information, visit the website at affinitylivinggroup.com.
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