Finally, all bows tied, T’s cross and I’s dotted: Friday, March 18, 2016.
After sharing my dream for over 25 years to various friends, colleagues, and family members, we are finally here, ready to execute our dream. Today, I received the email that I have waited so long for (see below). The email, in few words, says, you are prepared, qualified and trusted to care for seniors. Well done and proceed with all the caution every caregiver should adopt to ensure safety, security and love for your residents. You are wondering, where is that in this short note? For me, it’s there, in each letter character and character spacing…
Lesson: Hard work pays off and personal sacrifice is essential to meeting goals and objectives.
— Gary and Ann-Marie
Here are just a couple of example of “God Wink” moments over the last couple of years. These are just a couple! Amazing ride….
Estate Sale Hunt: August, 2015
Opening an ALF is only an excuse for me to go to estate sales! I love them, enjoy the hunt to find unique pieces from the past and meet a wide range of interesting people from in and around our community. On this day, the search was a bit more intentional. Goal: find good quality pieces that will contribute to an environment of comfort and familiarity for seniors.
As my mom and I walked into a beautiful mansion, someone off in the distance called out, saying “go in that room first, there are some nice pieces in there”. I turned to say thanks and stop in my tracks….she looked familiar. She noticed my gaze and said, “what’s wrong?” I said, “you look familiar”, her reply, “who do I look like”…I knew then she was a public figure but couldn’t figure out which one. She encouraged me to go look at the offerings and stop by and see her before I departed. I did.
Upon departing, I wrote a left a paper offering on a couple of lamps and stop by to say goodbye. I admitted I couldn’t figure out who she was and then she told me. I was right! She is a local official. She asked why I was surprised that she would be at an estate sale. I told her that it made sense (to me) that I was there, but not her. I told her way I was there and she explained that she loves these sales too.
She donated a chair for each room and several office pieces of furniture. By the way, the owner accepted my offer on the lamps; one is in the living room at the ALF. A quality classical piece!
Lesson: Tell your story to everyone, be genuine and again, listen carefully to the whispers in your ears when you sense good spirits.
Search, Search, Search: June 30, 2015
Outside of the renovation costs, we quickly realized that furnishings would be our second largest expense. I quickly started researching, not simply the traditional furniture stores, but all corners. I checked online ALF furniture stores, researched design and décor, and then realized how quickly this expense could consume our budget. Then I paused and thought clearly – I enjoy estate sales (you will see another story on this topic) and thought: there must be a way to find an estate sale of a large organization. In surfing the world’s dictionary (Google), I found a hotel liquidator…hmmm.
I sent them a note, introducing myself, our dream and plan, then hit the send button. Ten minutes later I received a call from a company that was liquidating a high-end hotel. The representative immediately started sending me photos, we made some commitments to purchase and drove to Clearwater, FL early one Saturday morning, loaded a HUGE struck and returned home by 1:00am the following morning. The timing was beyond right!
Lesson: Don’t simply look into the traditional corners. Look at them, but then think outside of the box and explore alternate means to your goals.
The real estate closing: June 22nd, 2015
We have “been here done that” in the past. A closing has never been anything special. This one was different. The seller of the property is a very astute business couple. Prior to starting to sign the endless pieces of paperwork, the woman talked to us about business. She smiled and said she was confidence that we would be successful, not simply financially but our business model. She talked to us about the importance of cash flow and financial stewardship. She shared with us the property success that has occurred around the property and told us to be sure to have her over to see the outcome of the property. She further explained, “I want to help, let me know what you need, stay in touch. Oh by the way, a couple of weeks ago we received an offer to buy the property if our contract fell through. The offer came from someone wanting to buy it to open an Assisted Living Facility. We declined and told them, we would be selling it to you.”
Lesson: (1) What is for you is for you. No one can take it from you, as long as you design a well thought through plan AND your heart and soul is involved. (2) Be open, ask questions and invite people to critique your actions and plans. Everyone can add value and you never know the pearl you have until you crack the shell open.
— Gary and Ann-Marie
The loan approval: TUESDAY, June 9th, 2015
John, our banker, has been amazing! He reviewed the business plan with a shrewd eye. Though written over a short three-week period, John had very few modification recommendations for the 42-page plan. He explained the process sharing that the plan would be reviewed by a committee and there would, more than likely be, a couple of follow-up questions during the presentation and decision by the end of the year. Eleven minutes into the meeting, at exactly 911, we received the text from John: “Unanimously Approved, Congratulations! Will talk to you later this afternoon.”
Lesson: Don’t narrow your “A” team too tightly. There are many who will encourage and support you. Ask, seek and, most important listen.
— Gary and Ann-Marie
General Contractor and Architect: January, 2015
By this point we were close to walking away from the property. We had already received an enormous renovation and architecture quote that was beyond our budget constraints. A colleague referred us to a small business general contractor and we were at a local coffee shop to discuss the needs. Both gentlemen arrived on time, reviewed the existing floor plan, discussed the renovation need and committed to our budget. I don’t think I have ever enjoyed a cup of coffee like that before!
Lesson: There are reasons for disappointment. Sometimes, what seems like a disappointment is actually a silver lining (no pun intended!).
Realtor “Encounter”: October, 2014
Several times, since retiring from the Navy, I researched options to pursue the dream of owning an Assisted Living Facility. Soft conversations and research occurred and I had become content with accepting the dream was just that a dream.
Then at a United Way women’s event, a small group of women and I were chatting about our parents. One woman recently had removed her mother from an assisted living facility due to the cost and a feeling of poor quality care. I shared with her my dream to open an assisted living facility one day, for families just like hers. As we concluded our conversation to walk away, a woman touched my elbow, introduced herself as a realtor and said “I am a residential realtor, but I know of a commercial property that you may want to see”. We scheduled a tour and I quietly walked through the building, once with her at my side and the second time alone. I had tears and knew this was it! We weren’t looking for property, matter of fact, the business plan hadn’t even been written yet.
Lesson: Things occur in due time, not your time. When the right time presents itself, you will recognize it. Acknowledge your preparation, lack thereof, your limitations and your abilities and then, pray or meditate, whichever is best for you. Prayer works for us.
— Gary and Ann-Marie