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Evergreen Court Resident Ethel De See Feels Right at Home

Evergreen Court Resident Ethel De See Feels Right at Home

Ethel De See loved Evergreen Court so much when she served as director, she decided to move in.

The beautiful independent living community, part of Christian Health’s lush campus nestled in the Ramapo Mountains, has been Ethel’s home since 2014. “I always knew I wanted to come here and be a resident,” she said with a smile. “I’ve been happily settled in ever since.”

Ethel was born and raised in Wyckoff, making her a faithful resident of northwest New Jersey for all of her 91 years. She married on her twenty-first birthday, moved into her husband’s lifelong home in Hawthorne, and lived there for 62 years. She began her storied history with Christian Health when she joined the board of directors in 1983. She served three terms, the last of which ended in 1992. She also began her professional career with the community in 1990, when she nabbed a role as a consultant in medical recordkeeping. Ethel joked about landing the job – as a registered nurse, she says she didn’t have much experience with the position. “I kind of pretended I knew what I doing,” she cracked. “When I finished that gig, I became director of Evergreen Court.”

Ethel served as director of the vibrant community from 1996 until she retired in 2014, a job she enjoyed so much that she made it her home. “Everyone loves it here,” she said enthusiastically. “They’re just totally happy.”

Evergreen Court features 40 apartment homes, with both low-income and market-rate options. The community has a strong focus on independence, but there is the added benefit of camaraderie and socializing with other residents. “Independence is certainly recognized, but you form nice friendships,” Ethel said.

Evergreen Court dwellers often share meals in the communal dining area on Saturday nights, organize group dates to dine out at local restaurants, do jigsaw puzzles that they later display proudly on the hallway walls, read quietly in the on-site library, and relax outside on the wooden rockers in the peaceful patio areas and chat. A social committee organizes festive monthly birthday parties to celebrate all residents born that month, where they enjoy sweet treats such as pie à la mode, root beer floats, and assorted cookies. A community bulletin board is tacked full of cheerful birthday cards, get-well wishes for ill residents, and other notes and information the residents wish to share with one another.

Boredom is never much of an issue for Evergreen residents – they are welcome to visit neighboring community Hillcrest for various events, such as an annual summer BBQ on the patio. Ethel has also used her status as a lifelong resident of the region to take Evergreen residents on historic tours of Wyckoff. “I’ve got the little Wyckoff history book and found some of the interesting 1700s homes that are in town,” she said. “That was fun. Having been born in Wyckoff, I knew a lot of the old history too.”

Residents also get the privilege of visits from Christian Health volunteers, who organize activities and assist with resident events. Columbia Bank volunteers recently participated in a Bingo event with residents, where they distributed donated prizes to winners. The Girl Scouts even contribute their time and volunteerism – Ethel fondly described how Evergreen came into possession of the beautiful garden cart on the grounds outside.

“One of our residents’ granddaughters was working on her Scout badge and she wanted to come and have us do some planting of herbs and flowers,” she said. “This year, she enhanced her project and built us a little framed garden. They planted some petunias, dahlias, flat-leaf parsley, and mint. So we can go out and help ourselves to that if we like. It’s a nice little perk.” The residents all take turns caring for and watering the garden, and it’s thriving beautifully.

While the emphasis is on independent living at Evergreen Court, there is access to assisted services for older adults, such as a dispatch service out of Valley Hospital that can visit residents to give X-rays, do bloodwork, and check on them when they are ill. “That’s been a great service,” Ethel said. “Going to urgent care, you have to wait; going to the emergency room, you’ve got a longer wait. So this is very impressive.”

Another perk of residing in Evergreen Court is the freedom to decorate your apartment home with personal touches. Ethel’s cozy dwelling is full of charming knickknacks, beautiful paintings created by both her and her daughter, and antique furniture. She even decorates three different Christmas trees in her apartment when the holidays arrive and swaps out throw pillows and other décor to coincide with the seasons.

Ethel’s family is also part of the Christian Health team – her son-in-law was vice president of Facilities for 38 years, her eldest daughter worked for many years at Christian Health as an RN, her younger daughter is the activity assistant and receptionist at Longview Assisted Living, and three of her granddaughters have held positions on our campus. Considering Ethel’s significant roots in our community, it’s safe to say she feels right at home in Evergreen Court.

“This is the place I want to be,” she said happily.