Life Story GEM

Aug 14, 2017 | Blog

Dear Palm Garden Family,

We believe in celebrating the life story- our Palm Garden Family. In fact, we learn all the little details that make each of our guests, residents and family members unique, different and special. We think it informs how best we can help those entrusted to our care achieve their highest level of physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. It is always our pleasure because it feeds our souls. That’s the bond that ties us together as family.

The persons we help come to us in a vulnerable state. They’re often scared, anxious and sometimes angry. With empathy, we understand that and still, we serve them The Palm Garden Way. Sometimes it is such a pleasure that we celebrate!

I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Tom F. a few weeks ago while visiting Palm Garden Pinellas. He’s one of those “larger than life” people you are fortunate to meet. You know the minute you look at him there’s a story in there; substance, strength, and backbone. Cracking jokes while viewing rehab, everyone knows him. Everyone likes him. The room is brighter because he is in it. I asked what he did for a living? “Boston firefighter 30 years- retired. Military service.”

Why are you here? “Oh, that’s my wife over there, Emma, married 63 years. I come see her every day. She misses me if I don’t come. I come every day.”

When Sam, our Executive Director at Pinellas sent me these pictures, she said:

“Mrs. F has been a Resident with us since July of 2016. Her Husband, Tom, visits with her for 8+ hours a day every day. All of our team members know Tom and Emma and they’ve become a special part of our Palm Garden Family.

A couple in Hawaiian shirts celebrating their anniversary with a cake

On Tuesday, Mr. and Mrs. F celebrated their 64th wedding anniversary! We prepared a special lunch in our private dining room to honor the occasion. The shirts that they are wearing also have special significance. Mr. and Mrs. Foster purchased these shirts in Hawaii and that was one of their favorite destinations that they’ve frequented many times. We did our best to bring Hawaii to them by having Polynesian themed music and décor.

Thank you for giving us the ability to make these GEMs possible!


Mr. F. continued “in a couple of weeks we’ll be married 64 years. She doesn’t always remember so good.” I was struck by my chance meeting with Tom. I went home and told my kids about him. (I want them to know freedom isn’t free. People like Tom have made huge sacrifices to give us a better life, we need to be thankful.) What has stayed with me though is his example of unconditional love, faith, commitment, and gratitude. Married 64 years and there every day, losing her bit-by-bit and not a bad word to say. That’s commitment we can all aspire to.

Sometimes our residents and family members show us real integrity, respect, commitment, and compassion. Tom sure does.

Anyone can go out and buy a cake. Our team at Pinellas went the extra mile by learning Tom and Emma’s story, personalizing the event based on the details of their shared life. Hawaiian shirts, a Polynesian theme? These are significant pieces of their life story that only family would know.

GEM’s- Going the Extra Mile. It’s who we are. It’s what we do. And the smiles above are an indication of what it means to those we serve as members of our family.

We are just so proud of our Palm Garden family.

Kind regards,

Luke Neumann,
Senior Director of Service And Relationship Development