top of page

Senior Living Scoop: February 2023

Get the scoop on senior living and happenings at Arete Living! The Scoop is released the first Tuesday of each month by Arete Living, proudly managing Avamere Communities, The Stafford, and Ovation.

Get this month's scoop below!


Honoring Black History Month

Every February, we honor Black History Month to recognize Black contributions to society and how this long history has shaped America and the world.

2023 Theme: Black Resistance

“This is a call to everyone … to study the history of Black Americans’ responses to establish safe spaces, where Black life can be sustained, fortified, and respected.”

Association for the Study of African American Life and History

Black Resistance Forges Change

Black resistance has long forged the world’s progress to equality, equity, and inclusion.

The 2020 Black Lives Matter movement around the globe brought attention to racism that still exists today. It also raised awareness of Juneteenth, which became a national holiday in June 2021.

Rosa Parks helped initiate the Civil Rights Movement when she refused to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery, Alabama bus in 1955. Her activism inspired the Montgomery Bus Boycott, led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led thousands of nonviolent demonstrators to Montgomery, Alabama’s capital. This historic 54-mile route, 3-day trek from Selma to Montgomery forged the way for the Voting Rights Act.

Contributions to Healthcare

Bessie Blount Griffin was a pioneer physical therapist, scientist, and inventor. She invented a device to help World War II veterans who struggled to eat. Her invention consisted of a tube that delivered individual bites of food to the patient at their own pace.

Daniel Hale Williams, MD, performed one of the world’s first successful heart surgeries. Dr. Williams opened Provident Hospital in Chicago in 1893, the first interracial and Black-owned hospital.

Judith Cadore, MD, is a family practitioner in Texas passionate about eliminating healthcare disparities. Patients travel to see her from up to 100 miles away.

Mary Mahoney is credited as America’s first Black professional nurse and became one of the first Black members of the American Nurses Association.

Percy Julian, an influential chemist, developed a drug for glaucoma in 1935. He established his own laboratory and founded the Julian Research Institute.

Solomon Fuller, MD, pioneered Alzheimer's research and advanced the study of many other neurodegenerative diseases, including schizophrenia and manic depression.

Learn through Black History Month by following us on social media.


Senior Living Scoop

Here’s your senior living knowledge scoop of the month!

What do you think of when you hear the phrase “retirement community”? Modern retirement communities are designed with an active lifestyle in mind. Here are three benefits of choosing an active retirement community.


Resident Spotlight

By Amy Sims, Executive Director, Avamere at Sandy

Leota Ownbey has been a resident at Avamere at Sandy's assisted living community for almost three years. She lives her life in service to others every day and has touched countless lives through her kind, warm spirit.

Leota uses her talents crocheting butterflies that she gives to friends, neighbors, families, random strangers in the community, and around the world. Leota's butterflies have traveled to places like Idaho, Minnesota, New Jersey, Texas, and have even made it as far as Romania! She gives them to people to brighten their day and give them hope for a brighter tomorrow.

Being someone who has received a butterfly from Leota, I know personally every time I look at it, I feel a little lighter, a little brighter, and can't help but smile knowing the love that was put into making it.


Avamere at Oak Park Resident and Employee Make Music Together

Each Tuesday afternoon, 100-year-old Betty White, resident of Avamere at Oak Park, and Jennifer Shaw, Director of Sales and Marketing, entertain residents with their piano and flute duo. Enjoy their musical talents in the video below!


A Dining Experience: Going Beyond Feeding and Eating

From left to right: Natalie McGee, Thad Parton, and Tyler Ratigan

Tyler Ratigan, Director of Culinary Operations with Ovation, managed by Arete Living, participated in a dining panel at HEALTHTAC Food and Beverage 2022.

He and other culinary experts discussed eating versus dining, innovation, trends and more.

“Today, we’re seeing restaurants and display kitchens being built, and really creating an experience,” Tyler shared during the panel.

“In one of our communities, we have a display kitchen—that’s out front with our pizza oven, induction burners and a whole bar setup. And our assisted livings are open kitchens where the residents are able to see the cooks,” he said. “[It’s about] putting the cooks out front with everybody to build a familiar face so the residents know who their food is prepared by.”


Celebrating Our Life Enrichment Teams

National Activities Professionals Week was celebrated January 23-27, 2023. The National Association of Activity Professionals chose Adventure Awaits as this year’s theme. Adventure is certainly what our life enrichment teams create for our residents!

The association states: “As an activity professional, you are part of a vitally important profession that helps people live a life that is full of fun and meaningful activities.”

In honor of National Activities Professionals Week, we highlighted some of our life enrichment team members on the blog and social media. Get to know some of these incredible teammates below!

BreAnna Serrano is the Life Enrichment Director with Avamere at Hillsboro. She's served with Avamere since 2015 and enjoys bringing joy to residents. BreAnna creates adventure for her senior residents by trying new things and sharing experiences.

Carey Dienhart has been enhancing lives at The Stafford since 2008. In her time, she has organized many exciting activities and events for residents and because of her outstanding dedication, earned the 2022 Enrichment of Life Award from the Oregon Health Care Association.

Joy Fondren is the Life Enrichment Director with Avamere at Moses Lake. Discover what she loves most about her job and how every day is an adventure in the video below.

MacKenzie McDermott is the Life Enrichment Director with Avamere at Newberg's Arbor.

She shares: "The highlight of my job that made me fall in love, is when I can see the resident’s moods increase, especially when I receive an instant smile and a 'well there she is,' every time I walk in for the day, which I think is hands down one of the top things that I gets me excited about coming into work."

Ovation Sienna Hills, one of Arete Living’s luxury senior living communities in St. George, Utah, has several incredible life enrichment team members. Aron Gubler, Romina Teeples, and Sherrie Stout create adventure for residents through pet visits, trips to national parks, and more.

Livia Thompson is the Sr. Life Enrichment Director with Avamere at Bethany. Livia has served with Avamere for over 15 years. She creates adventure for the residents daily and treats them as her own family. Livia has earned several awards through her career, including the 2019 Enrichment of Life Award and 2022 Special Service Award from the Oregon Health Care Association.

Special thanks to Livia for helping recognize fellow life enrichment team members throughout Activities Professionals Week!

Thank you to our life enrichment teams across Arete Living managed communities for enhancing lives of our residents each day and creating adventure!


Valentine's Paint n Sip

Avamere at Port Townsend in Washington hosted their monthly Paint n Sip class. The theme was Valentine’s Day. Business Office Manager Danielle Hayward teaches this class and says she and the residents really enjoy their time together.

Enjoy the photos of their artwork!


Life Enhanced Spotlight

We’re thrilled to have two featured employees for this month’s Life Enhanced Spotlight.

Jessica Remmen

Dietary Services Manager, Avamere at Cascadia Village

After only a little over a year on the team, she’s already making a big difference. The team and residents love the positive changes Jessica has implemented in the kitchen. Here is a Q&A with Jessica to get to know more about her!

How long have you worked with Cascadia Village?

I have worked here since July 2022. I love it here!

How long have you worked in the food industry?

Prior to my position here, I was lucky enough to be a stay-at-home mom for 10 years. I started my career working at a veterinary hospital for eight years and continued in the hospitality industry until having children. I have always loved cooking and learning new techniques on creating delicious and healthy food for my family. It was something that I was passionate about, and it just came naturally to me. This is my first job working in a professional kitchen, but I absolutely love it!

Tell us about yourself/family.

I am a proud mother of two wonderful daughters. I have a 10-year-old named Aylah and a 6-year-old named Mya. I have been with my husband Trevor for 12 years, and we have the best dog ever named Bruno. We rescued him from Mexico last year and he completes our family. I enjoy spending time with my family, spending time outdoors, and helping people whenever I can.

What’s your favorite part about your role at Cascadia Village?

I love my residents! They are my favorite part of the day. I love creating delicious and nutritious meals and making a menu that they look forward to. I have gotten a lot of positive feedback on the changes we have made. We have the best residents here at Cascadia Village and it feels like we’re all one big family.

Valarie Nichols

Caregiver, Avamere at Oak Park

Valarie celebrated her 10-year anniversary on January 12, 2023. Oak Park’s leadership would like to thank Valarie for her years of dedication to residents as they look forward to another 10 years of having her on the team.

Pictured left to right, presenting a thank-you gift: Christie Wuerst (Business Office Manager), Debbie Vick (Executive Director), and Valarie Nichols


Pets of Arete Living

Hi, my name is Peaches!

Peaches is a five-year-old Calico cat belonging to her mom Janelle Kain, Administrative Assistant with Avamere at Bethany. Her favorite human food to snack on is blueberries. She loves to cackle at the birds outside and cuddle up in blankets (and pillows) as soft as she is.

Here she’s with pictured with some knit pillows a resident likes to make. Janelle calls it Peaches and Pillows!


Livia’s Parent Corner

Livia’s Parent Corner highlights the kids of Arete Living employees and residents. This section is named after Livia Thompson, Senior Life Enrichment Director with Avamere at Bethany, who initiated this idea.

February’s Livia’s Parent Corner is Minerva Picard, Caregiver with Avamere at Bethany in Portland, Oregon.

When did you become a parent?

I became a mother at age 17. I feel like I had the opportunity to grow up alongside my children. I will always be young at heart.

Tell me your kids’ names and ages.

Wilson, my oldest passed away at 46. He was a proud veteran, and we miss him very much.

Ramona, my second oldest is 43.

Mary is 40 years of age.

Mikey is 38 years young.

Keith, my baby, is 32 years old.

What is one of your favorite memories as a family?

Spending time with my children and grandchildren is always the highlight of my day. We love being outdoors, especially camping and looking after our chickens, goats, and puppy dogs.

If you could go back in time, what advice would you give to yourself as a new mom?

I would have set aside more time with my kids while they were growing. Work is not always the most important thing. Take time to enjoy the journey with them.

What activities do your kids enjoy?

As they are grown, it is time with their children. I am the proud grandmother of nine beautiful grandkids and three great-grandkids. We are a sports-centric family. We love fishing, basketball, baseball, and hiking.

What are you most proud of about your kids?

Who they have become as adults and the parents that they are. They are kind, hardworking, and passionate about family.

Anything else to share?

My family has enjoyed multi-generational activities at Bethany. My grandkids have grown up during the last six years we have been a part of the Avamere/Arete Living family.

Editor’s note: Minerva’s kids and grandkids have been part of Avamere at Bethany through the years, as they’ve enjoyed the annual Easter egg hunts and trick-or-treat.


Words of Wisdom

We’d like to leave you with some words of wisdom!

One of our residents with Avamere at Wenatchee, Wyvonna Jackson, takes this advice from The Donut Song by Burl Ives.

“As you go through life, make this your goal. Watch the donut, not the hole."


Share Your Experience

Your experience matters! Review on Arete Living or any of our communities online. Search your local senior living community on Facebook or review Arete Living using the links below.


Find Senior Living Near You

Arete Living manages 26 senior living communities. Find a place for you or your loved one to call home!

You could be featured in The Scoop! Share your furry friends, show off your family, recognize an employee, share good news, and more! Email

200 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page