Moorings Park Communities offer residents an outstanding, award-winning lifestyle. The luxurious interiors, gorgeous views, and comprehensive services can be readily gleaned from pictures or a visit.
It can be a bit harder to capture the important caring relationships among residents and staff that make life at a Moorings Park Community such an enjoyable experience.
Moorings Park at Grey Oaks Executive Director Celeste Lynch is a wonderful case in point. Her Moorings Park career has spanned 20 years. The support she received from residents and the community early in that career was instrumental in propelling her forward.
A Creative Start With Furry Friends
“I started working at The Chateau® as Director of Recreation in 2002,” she says. (The Chateau at Moorings Park takes care of residents who need either short term rehabilitation services or long-term care.)
"I had my bachelor’s degree in therapeutic recreation, and enjoyed five years of helping residents recover their zest for life,” she explains. “We were able to be creative, using animal-assisted therapy and music therapy to enrich residents’ recovery experiences.”
That creativity is part of the Moorings Park Communities culture.
“When we identify a new program that enhances residents’ lives, we’re supported by the administration,” she notes. “We’re encouraged to think outside of the box, and if we need something to make that kind of thing happen, the support is there.”
Helpings Hands Open Doors
Celeste feels she owes a big debt to the residents as well. While working as Director of Recreation, she heard about a Moorings Park Foundation scholarship. The foundation — an independent resident-supported institution — helps promote worthy activities within the Moorings Park communities and beyond.
“Going back to school wasn’t something I had really considered until I heard others talk about it,” she says. “When I realized what a great opportunity it was, I applied.”
With scholarship in hand, she worked on getting her master’s degree in gerontology at Florida Gulf Coast University while continuing to work full time at The Chateau. Her academic work directly supported her work with residents, and vice versa.
Nudged By A Moist Nose
“I was able to do a lot of my practicum work at The Chateau,” she says. The programs she brought to her clients were carefully evaluated to assure there was tangible evidence supporting their effectiveness. Therapy animals weren’t just brought in to bring smiles to residents’ faces, they also helped them achieve measurable goals on their roads to recovery.
“We had one resident we knew wanted to walk more, but struggled with her motivation,” Celeste says of one example. “So every Tuesday, we brought a dog in with a two-handled leash (one for the resident and one for the dog’s handler). The resident enjoyed those weekly walks, and greatly boosted her walking distance as a result.”
In 2007, Celeste received her master’s, and later that year successfully applied to become Moorings Park’s first Director of Wellness.
“Without the generous support of residents in the form of that foundation scholarship, I wouldn’t have been able to do that,” she says.
Helping Residents Stay Physically Fit
“Wellness was really a great opportunity because we had a blank slate,” she says.
As Director of Wellness, Celeste worked with a consultant to expand Wellness programming for Moorings Park’s thriving independent living community. “Several years later, through the implementation of a pilot program, we were able to create a personal training program as well.
“It’s been great to see that grow from one person on our original campus to lively programs at all three of our campuses,” she adds. “We now have nearly a dozen full time wellness staff on our three campuses.
“Becoming the Wellness Director was the perfect thing at the perfect time for me, because it really engaged my background in recreation,” she smiles.
She served as Director of Wellness for over a decade. In early 2020, she became Associate Executive Director of Operations at the original campus. A little over a year later, she was promoted to Executive Director of Moorings Park at Grey Oaks.
“One of the nice things about being a foundation scholarship recipient is because of that important gift, I want to give back,” Celeste explains. “And I’m just one of many who have been here many years who feel that way. We take a strong interest in helping our employees and interns grow.”
The stable tenures of Moorings Park Communities’ employees help foster strong relationships among staff and with residents that boosts the communities’ quality of life.
“Our residents take a keen interest in our professional growth as well,” Celeste explains. “They’ll talk to the staff, and ask them, ‘What are your future plans? How are your classes going?’ And continue to encourage them on their educational journey. I had that when I was in school.
“When a staff member completes their education and are promoted at Moorings Park, the residents just love that! It’s like a family feeling,” she continues. “The residents feel like they had a hand in helping that person become successful through things like the foundation scholarships. It’s really gratifying to have that kind of caring support.
“I take every opportunity to remind residents that I am where I am today because of the foundation scholarship,” she says.