By Mia Hariz
As I enter the Evergreen Retirement Residence, I am immediately welcomed with the warm smiles, gracious nods, and kind hellos of the residents. Some chat together in the hallway, others sit quietly in the summer’s warm breeze, but not one neglects to recognize my presence. I turn and slip into a humble but inviting office and introduce myself to a man in spectacles. He sports a modern ensemble and convivial grin. Around his neck rests a bright green nametag that reads “Avi Heyman, Director of Happiness.”
This determination for resident happiness, I soon found, is the essence of what separates Evergreen from other retirement communities.
Evergreen, founded in the ‘80s by Avi’s family, prides itself on its unique and compassionate approach to caring for seniors. The staff and administration aim to give each resident a say in the day-to-day operations and work tirelessly to meet each individual’s needs. Evergreen is proudest of its familial atmosphere and diversion from the usual corporate feel of other retirement residences.
“Being that we’re not corporate, we’re not set in our ways,” Avi says. “If one resident is unlike the others, we learn how to conform to meet their needs.”
Evergreen’s staff fills its residents’ days with exciting activities and programs. Each morning begins with a walk, followed by a coffee social, and then a daily exercise. After that, events like live music, dancing, card clubs, and bingo are set up. Additionally, the residents go on trips at least twice a week: everywhere from beaches to casinos, to live show tapings. Residents are always encouraged to suggest activities in their monthly resident-counsel meeting or whenever else they might have a new idea.
“There is an old saying, ‘You can’t please everyone,’” Avi says. “But we never stop trying.”
Evergreen’s staff members go through vigorous training that is governed by Title 22, which entails the regulations for running a retirement community. Aside from that, all staff members from each department meet for 25 minutes every morning and discuss the issues at hand.
“Some of our staff members have been working here for over 10 years,” Avi says. “They treat the residents like their own loved ones. Every staff member has a personal connection with each resident.”
Evergreen, more so than I’ve seen in any community, takes pride in its ardent endeavor to satisfy each and every resident, despite how diverse their needs may be. Instead of aiming to create an atmosphere to which each resident conforms, they aim to create one in which each resident is conformed to. The Director of Happiness will not rest until each and every member is, indeed, happy.
“We want the seniors to come into Evergreen and be able to sit back and relax, and let us take care of them,” Avi says. “Think of it as moving into a country club. We’re here for you, to serve you, and do whatever it is that you need us to do.”
Evergreen Retirement Residence is located at 225 N. Evergreen St. in Burbank. For more information, call (818) 843-8268.