Perspective and the Legacy Formation

I was at a meeting this week and said I needed to be done by 2 pm so I could attend the funeral of one of our residents.  The responses were, “I’m sorry,” and “How sad.”   Yet my reply was, “No! He lived a wonderful life.”

And I believe that.

“Still, it’s a funeral,” was another response.  And then I explained that I used to really hate the idea of funerals too, until I worked for this company for a while. Don’t get me wrong, it’s really sad and I still shed a lot of tears, but now I consider it a way to celebrate their life and to appreciate the life I have been given. I once had an ailing resident tell me, “It’s okay to be sad, but this is the way it’s supposed to be.  I have lived a long, full life and still have things I want to do, but older people are the ones who are supposed to go – not children or young parents.”


The service was supposed to start soon, so I sat down near the back of the church.  A photo of a very handsome young pilot was on the screen at the front of the church. What a smile. I looked at the program and was reminded.  What a life.

Looking around the room, I saw about 40 people celebrating that life. Yet, when I looked closer, I noticed that about a dozen of those gathered were from Legacy Estates.  Half of those were teenage kids from the Dining Services department.  Kids who had waited tables for the resident and his wife at dinner. Kids who had listened to his stories, but probably more often shared their own with him, because he was always interested.  They knew his point and wave in the hall.  They knew his bear hug. They knew how he touched his hand to his heart when something was special to him.

And they learned from him.  They learned that life can be joyful.  They learned that growing older can be a great thing, especially if you embrace it and you continue to grow during each phase of your life. They learned that getting older often comes with some not-so-great things too. They learned that love can last 70 years and more. They learned that friends make the good times better and the hard times easier. They learned that family is defined in many ways.

I saw one of the kids later and asked her who was sitting beside her, because I didn’t recognize him.  “My dad.  He knew how much I loved [this resident] and how important it was for me to go to the funeral.  He didn’t want me to go alone, so he came with me.”

The arms of the Legacy family are far-reaching.

The resident’s granddaughter spoke at the funeral of how her grandpa used to fly a B-17 in Air Force flying formation and now that he had passed, her grandpa had “left the formation.”  (By the way, if he’d had his way, that was all that would have been said for the entire service.) This young woman said she realized that even though her grandpa wasn’t with her anymore, he had given her so many others to turn to in her times of need.  She said, “He had filled my life with people who will step into formation when I need them.”

As I sat in the back of the church and watched people quietly leave, I realized that most of these Dining Services kids would go onto school and possibly to other careers.  And even though it is not as final as the loss of a B-17 in formation, they, too, will be missed.  Many more young people will fill in our Legacy formation so that we are flying full once again.  On the bright side that means that more young people will have the opportunity – and the blessing – of working with and spending time with some amazing older people and realize how awesome they really are.

An Open Letter to Caregivers

An open letter to caregivers

  • BY KAYLA SHAF / Retirement Living Advisor at The Legacy, 5600 Pioneers Blvd.

Dear Caregiver,

I just wanted you to know you are loved and supported. I admire caregivers like you because you continually educate yourself to discover ways to be the best caregiver you can be. You’re an advocate for your loved one. You help people when they are down. You don’t turn your back on someone in need – especially when it comes to family.

You’re doing a great job allowing your loved one to maintain their level of independence. You probably feel the urge to help them with every simple task, but you’re well aware of the benefits they receive from continuing to take part in the day-to-day activities. Maybe it’s making a family favorite recipe for dinner or an outing to a grandchild’s wedding. Whatever it is, you allow them to be themselves, maybe as a mother or father, husband or wife. You know their heart swells with pride when they get the opportunity to still fulfill that role.

I’m so glad to hear that you’re taking time for yourself and getting much needed rest when you can. I know you struggle to ask for help or it’s not always available, but it seems like you know just what to do with your free time, whether that’s relaxation, finally getting that new book you’ve been talking about, or checking out that new restaurant. I bet your loved one enjoys seeing you well rested and with a smile on your face.

I hope you know how appreciated you are and allow yourself to embrace that appreciation. I’m sure the days can seem long and sometimes trying. When it gets tough, give yourself grace. Seek to understand what your loved one is going through. Remember why you stepped up to become a caregiver. I think taking time to reflect helps you realize how much you are helping your loved one. What you’re doing is truly an incredible job!

Finally, I want to say thank you for being an example of love and compassion in our family and our community. You allow your loved one independence, give them the space that they need all while showering them with love and knowing when it’s time to take a moment for yourself. Watching you care for your loved one makes me strive to be a better, more empathetic person with everyone I come in contact with. I hope more people can learn from your actions. Take pride in what you do and never stop being the amazing person you are.


Kayla Shaf


Hot Air Balloon Adventure

At 93 years young, Maurece was ready to cross off something on her bucket list: Riding in a hot air balloon. Maurece set out on her grand adventure, thanks to the help of our Enrichment team.

The Balloonists wrangled the rainbow-colored balloon as the deafening bursts of the flames inflated it more and more. When they couldn’t hold on any longer, Maurece quickly stepped into the basket and took to the skies.

The balloon soared high above Lake Zorinsky. Maurece leaned and waved over the side of the basket, watching the earth and her cheering family members disappear below her. As they continued to ascend, Maurece found herself above the clouds, lit with the rich pink and gold hues of a true Nebraska sunset. In the serene peace, Maurece grasped a photo of her late husband. She said later she felt that he was with her during the ride.

Maurece spent many years as a farm wife and enjoyed seeing all the different shades of green farmland from the balloon. Deer bounded across familiar green fields as dusk approached and wild turkeys nibbled on the fields. The descent was upon them and the pilot landed with a thud, bump, and skid through a small grassy spot between two cornfields. Maurece could not contain her smile and laughter as she climbed out of the basket.

The group celebrated their adventure, toasted with champagne and recited the treasured Balloonist’s prayer: The winds have welcomed you with softness. The sun has blessed you with its warm hands. We have flown so high and so well that God has joined you in laughter and set you gently back into the loving arms of mother Earth.

For days, Maurece felt as if she was still walking on the clouds. Her heart was as happy as could be and her soul felt fulfilled.

A Friendship in the “Works”

There are many friendships within the walls of our buildings: friendships between residents; friendships between residents and staff; and friendships between our employees.

A very special friendship started in 1997 at The Legacy Retirement Communities. Two young ladies met when they both joined the Dining Services team as Night Servers. One was quiet and introverted at work and the other was outgoing. (Although she says she was only that way at work because she “found her niche.”) Their friendship had a gradual start, but then there was a “click” and it blossomed into a beautiful relationship that has lasted over 20 years. They both said at different times that, “She is my person.”

These friends have been witness to some major life events in each other’s lives including marriages, new pets, a divorce and also changes in the company. They say they know everything about each other. They were even roommates for a while. They do have their similarities and their differences. Jocelyn is a morning person and Kerry is “NOT!” Kerry says she helped Jocelyn become interested in current events (“She was completely unaware.”) and Jocelyn helped Kerry come out of her shell. Kerry says that Joc’s parents always thought that Kerry was the ornery one, but it was really Kerry’s parents who should have been more concerned about Joc!

There have been too many fun times to note here, but there have been some really funny times worth mentioning. Like the time umpteen years ago that Jocelyn was changing the ketchup “bladder,” a three gallon bag of ketchup that goes in a dispenser. As she was loading it, the cap popped off and it looked like a “crime scene” because ketchup was everywhere! Or the time that Kerry was placing a Jello “poke cake” in the frig to set. She caught the edge of the pan on the frig shelf which flipped the pan over, so orange Jello was everywhere too. Jocelyn also dropped a gallon of pickle relish that made a huge mess and dropped a tray of coffee cups too. (It was at this time that I asked her, “Why are you still with us?!” and she laughed and said, “Shh….don’t tell Greg [our CEO].”)

There was one time that may have pushed their friendship to the breaking point. First, you need to know that Jocelyn does NOT like clowns. (One  might even say she hates them, but Jocelyn could not hate anything.) Kerry thought it would be funny for another employee to dress up like a clown and hide in the frig at the end of their shift. Well, Jocelyn didn’t find the prank quite so funny and even said, “It took me a long time to get over that one, but I think I finally have.”

When asked about how things have changed in the last 20 years, they both say things were done a lot differently 20 years ago than they are now. “It was a hard job then, but it is even more challenging now, “ according to Kerry Harding, who is now the Dining Services Coordinator at the Estates. “When we started, the residents chose their meals a week in advance, we took carts around with beverage choices before dinner and again with desserts after dinner. Now it’s a really nice restaurant, taking all orders at the table each night and delivering everything from the kitchen as it’s prepared.” Jocelyn adds, “The kids are so smart and capable. The changes in dining services in the last 20 years are amazing.”

Kerry feels she is “where I’m supposed to be” at the Legacy Estates. She has matured into a wonderful Dining Services Coordinator who really cares and fosters compassion as she mentors the high school and college kids and takes on the challenge of making sure that about 250 people enjoy their dining experiences every day. Meanwhile, Jocelyn has taken on the challenge of Marketing Director at the Legacy Terrace. Kerry says that Jocelyn has always wanted to be a director of a retirement community, so she too is where she needs to be right now.

They both were inducted into the 20-Year Platinum Club at November’s Employee Appreciation Event where they both said a few sweet words about working here and with each other. Their long friendship is a strong, loving one filled with laughter and teasing. That too, was proven when Jocelyn reminded everyone attending the banquet that she actually has been with the company longer…in fact, she started one whole month before Kerry!

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And They Lived Happily Ever After.


They wanted to be married so they could spend all their time together. But this wasn’t just any couple. This was a couple who happened to live  in a memory care community.

But first, let’s start with another couple. Alan and Betty moved in to the Legacy Arbors when Betty needed full-time memory care. They had been married many years and they loved each other deeply and then Betty passed away. Although he had mild dementia, Alan mostly wanted to stay at the Legacy Arbors after his wife passed because he “felt it was his home.”

A few months after Betty died, Mimi moved in to the Legacy Arbors. Mimi would notice Alan sitting by himself and she would go sit beside him and talk with him. She would sit by him at meals and honestly, helped him participate in life again.

Soon they were taking walks together and spending every day together. Then their friendship developed into a romance. Alan wanted to marry Mimi.

The staff brought the families of the two residents together for a conversation regarding the idea of the couple possibly getting married. Was it what was best for the residents involved? What were the emotional concerns? What were the legal/financial concerns, if any? So the families, along with the staff, decided it would be best just to observe the couple for a while longer with the marriage possibility in mind.

They noticed that the couple was always together when the families arrived for a visit. They watched them take walks together. They watched them laugh with each other. And they watched tender moments too: Alan would sit on the couch and Mimi would lay her head on his lap and soon he would be caressing her hair. They witnessed love.

And the couple was allowed to marry, so Activities Director Michele became a wedding planner!

Pastor Perry who performs our Sunday service was the officiant of the ceremony held in the Dining Room adorned with silver and blue decorations the couple had requested. Hors d’oeuvres were served by Dining Services and the family even baked the wedding cake and brought in flowers. Toasts were made to the bride and groom.

Alan and Betty had three months of wedded bliss before Alan died suddenly. But, they were three wonderful months.


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A Moment.

March 2017

I was at the Legacy Terrace last week when Kathy, the director of nursing, came up to me with a teary expression. I asked her if everything was okay and she said she was, “Having a moment.”

I asked, “A good moment or a bad moment?”

Kathy replied, “A good moment.” And after a few seconds she showed me a picture that someone had hung up in the nurses’ station.   The picture showed Michael, a member of our nursing team, and a resident enjoying some sweet, quiet time together.


Below the picture is the Steve Jobs quote, “Work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is GREAT work. The only way to do great work is to LOVE what you do.”

Our walls are filled with people who love doing great work every day. We know this is true, but it’s nice when it’s proven by the act of an employee who takes the time to take a photograph and make a poster out of it and then hang it up to continue to inspire others.

Definitely a good moment.

A picture is worth….

This is a picture of Barb Scott, director of clinical services, with Dorothy after Barb set her up with bluetooth headphones.   They connect to her tv so she can enjoy watching (and listening to) her favorite sports teams! Dorothy is 106 and her hearing just isn’t what it used to be.  😉

We are all fortunate, because every employee in our building has the power and permission to make someone’s life better each and every day.  Thanks, Barb.


A Gift, Multiplied.

January 2017

One of our residents at the Estates received a very generous Christmas gift from her son – a case of sweetened dried cherries from Michigan.  As generous and yummy as that was, she wasn’t sure she was going to be able to eat a whole case of them!   So she kept some to enjoy for herself and brought the rest of the packages down to the Chef and asked if she could share them. Since the packages weren’t open, Chef Keenan said he would love to use them in a special recipe to share with all the residents.

The Dining Services team went right to work and baked dozens of loaves of Cherry Almond Bread for our resident’s friends to enjoy at dinner that evening. Sharing is Caring!


From the National Catholic Register Magazine

EDUCATION  |  JAN. 6, 2017

Faith and Fellowship Across the Ages
College student leads retirement home Bible study

Thousands of students lead Bible studies every day on their college campuses to connect, make friends and grow in faith. However, 21-year-old Eric Zimmerman decided to take his Bible study in a different direction. In August 2015, the college junior at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) began leading a Bible study for the elderly at The Legacy Retirement Community in Lincoln. The adventure began while he worked for dining services at the retirement home.

As he filled coffee cups in the dining hall last year, Zimmerman overheard a table of ladies say, “What about Eric?” They then proceeded to explain their need for a new Bible study leader because their current leader stepped down due to poor health.Thousands of students lead Bible studies every day on their college campuses to connect, make friends and grow in faith. However, 21-year-old Eric Zimmerman decided to take his Bible study in a different direction. In August 2015, the college junior at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) began leading a Bible study for the elderly at The Legacy Retirement Community in Lincoln. The adventure began while he worked for dining services at the retirement home.

“It was one of those moments where I agreed to it so fast that I didn’t think about it too much,” Zimmerman said. “It involved a lot of trust in God.”

Zimmerman worked for the retirement home for four years before becoming an assistant youth minister for a local parish. He volunteers his time as a Bible study leader for 15 elderly people every Wednesday morning. The group begins with a prayer and then discussion of each person’s highs and lows for the week. They then continue with a Scripture discussion. The Bible study is nondenominational because participants come from various faith backgrounds. However, Zimmerman plans his topics around the Catholic liturgical calendar. He also uses the Focus (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) “Equip” app as a guide for the Bible study.

As Zimmerman explained, “It was a little bit of a challenge because many Bible study tools are for college students and young adults. There is not a lot out there for our retirement homes.”

Despite the challenges, Zimmerman said that this experience has been extremely rewarding. He often learns more about his faith because his participants regularly ask questions about Catholicism. He attended Catholic schools from kindergarten through 12th grade, but says he “works out his apologetics” during these meetings. “This Bible study really challenges me to think about my faith through someone else’s eyes,” he said. “Overall, it has been incredible.”

Zimmerman said the arrangement has an added blessing: He can spend more time with his grandmother, who lives in the same retirement home and takes part in the Bible study. He also develops friendships with other Bible study participants. In November 2015, he invited his Bible study members to attend the community night at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, which is the Newman Center for the University of Nebraska. Several elderly ladies “had a ball” attending the 10pm Mass, he recalled.

“They were blown away by the number of people we had at Mass,” Zimmerman said. “They talked about it for weeks. It was a great way for me to be able to show them a little bit about my faith.”

Resident and Bible study participant Doris Brown explained how much she enjoys Zimmerman’s study. She said that “getting a young person’s view of Scripture is refreshing.”

“Eric brings a closeness of individuals and an understanding of other people’s concerns. He helps us understand that there are other beliefs in the facility,” Brown said. “He does an excellent job.”

Zimmerman’s friends and family have been extremely supportive and moved by his efforts to reach the elderly community.

Friend and former co-worker Dianne Adkisson is the office manager at The Legacy. She said that Zimmerman “can bring a light to a room,” and “whenever he’s involved in something, it’s fun.” She said that this Bible study allows residents to “share something in common, which is Christ.”

“It gives them a chance to get together and have a little bit of fun, but also to discuss what speaks to their hearts,” Adkisson said. “I think they trust Eric. He has one of those spirits that they can connect with very easily.”

Luke Miller, a Focus missionary at UNL, met Zimmerman in 2015. He is proud that Zimmerman saw and acted on the need for outreach and discipleship in a retirement home. “Eric’s heart for mission is most inspiring. He is a man rooted in prayer,” Miller explained. “Because of his prayer and closeness to Christ, he saw the opportunity to bring Christ to the people placed in front of him.”

Zimmerman’s mother, Sonya, explained that she and her husband are very proud of their son.

“This Bible study was a need that hadn’t really been met,” she said. “We are so struck by how his faith is real in the everyday part of his life. It is just in him.”

Zimmerman said he would eventually like to do some type of mission work outside of Lincoln, but does not have plans to end this Bible study anytime soon. He explained that the group’s “level of gratitude” is the most rewarding aspect of this endeavor.

They thank him for “taking time out of his busy day,” but he said that while that is true, he wants to be there.

“The elderly can be pushed to the outskirts of society and forgotten about. There is still such a need for Bible studies within these communities,” he said. “These people, who have so much life experience, can teach me just as much as I can hopefully teach them. They inspire me each and every day.”

A Little Hope for Everyone!

She was known as “Husker Hope” to many of the staff at The Legacy and she lived her life to the fullest. Hope was kind and caring and a die-hard Husker fan up until her recent death.

When Activities Director (and avid Husker volleyball fan)   Carla Hiatt found out that Hope had not seen the Husker volleyball team play since they moved to the Devaney Center and it was on Hope’s Bucket List, she knew exactly what she wanted to do.   Carla asked Hope if she would like to go the Red/White Scrimmage this Fall so she could “check that off her bucket list.” Hope gave Carla a resounding, “Yes!” and they had a great time!

Carla and Husker Hope

(The Huskers won.)

Hope passed away in September and she is greatly missed. As with many older people, Hope seized the opportunity to plan her own funeral, which included having the Husker Fight Song played!  But, that idea went against church protocol, so instead her family and the priest agreed to have the fight song played as they left the church…..complete with a red balloon release. Now when you look at the pictures, you may notice there were also 4 blue balloons. One of Hope’s daughters had attended KU, so Hope also rooted for them, just to be fair. It was just the kind of lady she was.
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So in honor of Hope, Goooooo Biiiiiiig Re-eeeeeed!!!!

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Legacy Retirement Communities