Milestones and Memories: Reflections on Five Years at the “All New” Sunnyside Manor
An interview with Owner/Operator of Sunnyside Manor, MaryEllen Keane.
Time goes so fast! It seems like just yesterday that Sunnyside Manor opened the doors of its all new, state-of-the-art senior living community in Wall. In addition to the anniversary of our move, Sunnyside Manor recently reached other important milestones: 100 years of care, and nearly thirty years of the Keane family’s leadership.
To mark the occasion, Sunnyside Manor owner/operator MaryEllen Keane shared her thoughts and reflections on the past five years and more. This interview has been edited for space and clarity.
The new building represented a significant expansion, in terms of space, services, and care. How did that expansion reflect the values of Sunnyside Manor?
MaryEllen: People used to say the care is excellent, but the building was really dated. Now, the building matches the care. Expanding and bringing in a whole new clientele has been wonderful. When my parents acquired Sunnyside Manor, they expanded and modernized as much as the old space would allow. The move to the new space built on that. We went from space for just 16 people in assisted living to 92, plus a secure memory support neighborhood.
People come in because they really want to come in. Seeing the residents make their social groups, the resident run activities… it’s beautiful.
When did the new building feel like “home?”
MaryEllen: It felt like home right away. It was a pretty quick transition. We’ve had some staff here for thirty plus years. [They] came over and the culture came over, too.
What other Keane family members are working at Sunnyside Manor?
MaryEllen: My youngest works in the dining room as a server. All the children have worked here at some point– all three of my children, and my niece and nephew – they’re very kind people and very empathetic people, and I’m very proud of them for that. That’s part of our culture, too.
What have you been able to offer in the new building that you were not able to offer earlier?
MaryEllen: Our kitchen is completely different. The food has always been good, but we didn’t have the equipment to cook like we do now – a convection oven, a braiser… the equipment is phenomenal! We can offer more variety, and we get in special request items all the time. We have more space to store them.
What is your favorite part of Sunnyside Manor?
MaryEllen: The dining room – not so much the room but what happens there. The residents sit with their friends, and they’re happy! They have music on and it’s their choice of music. The room is alive with the residents’ choices.
What were some of the early challenges?
MaryEllen: I learned to change every cylinder lock in this building because they had to be re-keyed. The residents didn’t know, but it was my personal nightmare!
What is your favorite memory or event from the past five years?
MaryEllen: My favorite event is the picnic. My parents acquired Sunnyside Manor in 1991 and they have had a springtime family picnic every year since. They invite every resident’s family to the celebration. We have a petting zoo, pony rides, live music, face painting… it’s a big, fun picnic for everyone to enjoy.
What is ahead for the next five years? What values will guide you?
MaryEllen: Right now, the decisions mostly are pandemic related and safety related. The responsibility is the residents’ safety: physical safety and emotional safety. But, whether it’s pandemic related or not, I look at things through somebody else’s lens. I look at it as, “What would the residents want? What do the families want?”
The pandemic climate is hard on everyone. We’re all doing our best to see all perspectives and act responsibly and kindly. Recently, a gentleman who lives here with his wife told me he is so grateful that they moved in when they did, because he would not want to have been isolated during this time, and he is so grateful that he has neighbors.
The Keane family and the Sunnyside Manor family are grateful to everyone who continues to make our community so special, and we look forward to many more wonderful years together.
All of us at Sunnyside Manor wish you the best during this unique time. Stay safe and take good care.
Learn More About Why Families Rely On Sunnyside Manor
Sunnyside Manor offers assisted living, memory support, and skilled nursing and rehabilitation. Learn more about Sunnyside Manor’s resources for caregivers. Whether you’re looking for short-term support or a longer-term plan, we are here to help. Begin with our “Getting Started” guide. Times have changed, and so have our admissions protocols. Please call us at 888-696-2052 to speak with a senior living expert.
Sunnyside Manor, located in Wall NJ, is the area’s premier senior living community. It features three distinctive neighborhoods: Independence ‘Plus’ Assisted Living, Recollections Memory Care and Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation.