Photo of Jennifer Stanley

Photo of Jennifer Stanley

Thank you for your service to our great country.

We honor you all day, every day.

We would not have the freedoms we have without you.

Our nation, our way of life, our future, would not be as bright without you.

Your service is always remembered with honor and respect here at The Willows.

We are so proud of you.

We also know Military Service is not easy, which is just one more reason we think so highly of you. The
sacrifices you have given are both mighty and countless. Our every day lives are possible because you
stood up and fought to preserve them when the call came.

Fortunately, in this busy world, there is at least one special day reserved to honor our Veterans, but
truly, to us Veteran’s Day is every day.

And that is the way it should be.

God Bless America.

God Bless our Veterans.

 

Photo of Jennifer Stanley

Photo of Jennifer Stanley

I’d like to tell you about the beginning of our story….

It was July 2018. Ben and Mira Daniels had been working full time since 2015 to build The Willows. It was a big task, but they got the job done and were getting ready to open their doors in the next couple of months.

But on one fateful afternoon that July, a large tornado tragically tore through downtown Marshalltown, leaving destruction in its wake. One place that took a large amount of damage was another senior community in town. Overnight, dozens of seniors needed shelter while their home was being rebuilt.

The Daniels’ knew they had a space that was specially designed for seniors. And just days prior, had received their final permits. So they made the choice, before much of the staff had even been hired, to open The Willows early to offer shelter for the displaced seniors.

In the coming days and weeks, they saw an outpouring of love and support to make these seniors comfortable. So many folks from all over brought food, blankets, beds, furniture, and essentials. Many new Willows employees worked around the clock and gave much of their own time to make everyone comfortable. The Daniels family moved into the building to help, and as a community, they found their way through.

In that time, they saw so many examples of selflessness, love, and of neighbors helping neighbors. It gave them a profound sense of gratitude for this little corner of the world and a first-hand introduction to Marshalltown Strong. A community shining bright in their darkest hour is a miraculous thing to see, and we were forever changed by it.

This whirlwind was our beginning. When we opened our doors for business as usual, we already knew what it looked like to be filled with people who want to help make life better and easier for seniors. We have held strong in that mission ever since.

Thank you again and again Marshalltown. The Willows is truly yours. I feel proud to lead it every day.

Love,

Jennifer Stanley

Executive Director

641 485 1672

 

Photo of Jennifer Stanley

Photo of Jennifer Stanley

Doesn’t Everyone? For so many of us, our moms mean everything to us.

And as you and I have gotten to know each other through my weekly columns, I figured it was time to share a few of the things my mom taught me, important lessons that I use every day. Because they are as much a part of who I am as anything I do. And I’d like for you to know me better.

My mom taught me to always do my best. “OK but every Mother says that Jennifer.” I know, but she would take specific daily events and work through them with me, to find out what I wanted to do better or differently next time. Practical, but without lecturing. It is a tool that really helps me serve the needs Marshalltown’s seniors here at The Willows. They deserve my best, so I am always evaluating how I can do better for them.

She also taught me to never go to bed mad. At anyone, or about an event of the day. Another common lesson, but my mom really made sure I did it. She could just tell any time I was unsettled and she would patiently talk through it with me until I felt better. Only then would she let me turn off the lights.

She would also not allow harsh words when describing either a friend or someone who I had met. Sure, that didn’t keep me from trying. But she just wouldn’t have it. And finally that has become a lifelong habit for me.

These lessons, and the patience she taught me as she guided me through them, have served me in every part of my life, as a mother, a friend, a neighbor, and as a leader at The Willows.

I’m forever thankful for them and I think they help set us apart in providing the very best in Assisted Living and Memory Care for our residents. Give me a call on my cell: 485-1672. I’d love for you to share your mom’s or dad’s life lessons with me.

Photo of Jennifer Stanley

Photo of Jennifer Stanley

We are over the moon. For the fourth year in a row we have been awarded Best of the Best. This year we were lucky enough to win in all three categories of Best Assisted Living, Best Retirement Facility and Best Place to Work. Thank you so much!

I want to send a huge thank you to our incredible staff here at The Willows. Thank you all, for your dedication, your deeply caring personalities, your humor (which is very important!) and your collective vision in embracing this Willows family and this culture of putting residents first. You are the ones who win this award every day, showing up and giving so much of your hearts to this place and these residents. You make The Willows the wonderful community that it is.

I want to thank our founders, The Daniels Family, and our Management team, Brenda, Blake, David, Danielle, Felicia, Hailey, Tina, Esmerelda. All of you, thank you for your support in building this place and this team. We have created something different and special together here and I could not have done this without you all.

And I want to thank the community of Marshalltown. Thank you for seeing us and for recognizing the unique place we have built. It means so much to us to show up at work every day with the appreciation of this community at our back. Any storm that comes our way, we feel ready to face with this team and this community behind us.

We will not let you down. We pledge to keep working every day to do justice to this award and strive to be the best of the best; by supporting one another, by working to create the best quality of life possible for seniors at The Willows, and by honoring this great community we are lucky enough to live in.

Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts.

Love,

Jennifer Stanley

Executive Director

 

Photo of Jennifer Stanley

Photo of Jennifer Stanley

If you’ve been reading my columns for a little while now, you’ve gotten a snapshot into the way my mind works.

As you might have noticed, I try to think of everything. You may be just like me in that regard.

The other day, I got to thinking about the Boy Scout motto of “Be Prepared.” Remember that one?

I realized that as Executive Director of The Willows, that’s a motto I use often too. And you know what? That is a great motto for every senior and their family.

“Be Prepared” for a Boy Scout means having what you need for whatever terrain you enter into.
For a senior, “Be Prepared” means much the same thing. But as we age, we realize that the terrain can change a lot, sometimes in a short time.

Every day in my job I take calls from seniors and their families who are facing the difficult challenge of building a whole retirement plan for Mom and Dad immediately after a fall or after finding out their health, their memory, or their quality of life has taken a steep decline. The road back from those unplanned-for challenges can be tricky.

But those families that prepare and have a plan for when Mom and Dad might need to transition to Assisted Living or Memory Care, often find themselves in much better shape when these challenges present themselves, making the transition so much smoother for everyone.

But hey, even if you’re in a tough spot, if you have the right trail guide (that’s me!) we can find a way through together.

So be like a good Scout, Be Prepared. Give me a call at 641 485 1672. This week, tomorrow, or anytime soon.

This gives us time to make a great plan for Mom or Dad to navigate the territory ahead with ease. I look forward to meeting you.

Love,

Jennifer Stanley
Executive Director
The Willows

Photo of Jennifer Stanley

Photo of Jennifer Stanley

When I came to work at The Willows, I had big dreams. And when I got to know the family that built it, I found that was something we shared. We all wanted to create a community that put seniors first, that was beautiful, full of life and comfort, and excellence in care and service. And we wanted a workplace that was like family, supportive and considerate with one another.

I knew that putting the residents first would be our north star. So we asked each resident; “What feels like home to you?” And from that we created a restaurant menu with a ton of choices every day of all their favorite foods. We planned outings and events, musical performers, faith services, crafts, card clubs, movie nights in our huge theater, tailgating parties, fishing trips, and of course, fabulous bingo prizes. We built a community together that felt like home.

When it came to building our team, we were lucky enough to find some of the kindest, most skillful, and compassionate people to join us. Every day I see examples of how exceptional they are. From jumping in to cover for a co-worker in crisis, to taking a memory care resident for a drive through her old neighborhood to hear her stories. These folks bring their hearts to work every day.

In 2019, we won our first Best of the Best award, for Best Assisted Living. It felt so gratifying to see that the hard work we had been doing to make this place something special was recognized in Marshalltown. In 2020, we won Best Assisted Living and Best Retirement Home. Last year, we took home Best Assisted Living, Best Retirement Community and added Best Place to Work as well. It’s an incredible honor. It’s the people that make the place, and we have some very special people here.

And these wonderful folks never stop striving to make life better, easier, and more fun for our Willows residents.

Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts.

Love,

Jennifer Stanley
Executive Director, The Willows

Photo of Jennifer Stanley

Photo of Jennifer Stanley

After all, when a loved one has Alzheimer’s or dementia everyone could use a helping hand.

That’s why we have a monthly Alzheimer’s Support Group meeting at The Willows on the last Wednesday of each month from 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM, with an optional lunch after.

At these meetings you can learn from a professional moderator from St. Croix Hospice who can answer all of your questions. A really helpful benefit of the Support Group is that you are with others on the same journey as you–with many of the same experiences and questions you may have.

In this group, you no longer need to feel alone navigating the challenge of living with a loved one with Alzheimer’s or Dementia. Questions like; “What is the best thing for them now?” or “How do I handle it when Mom or Dad acts this way or that way?” These are universal, and everyone has moments where they feel overwhelmed and alone.

Properly dealing with loved ones with memory issues is not intuitive. It is not something you just “figure out.” Help is crucial, and understanding is vital. And our Support Group at The Willows can give you both.

If you’re worried about how to get started, know this; these are informal meetings. Everyone is welcome. There is no form to fill out, no information to share…just come listen, ask questions if you want to but there is no pressure from anyone.

You can come as many times as you like. Our group has been a resource for families since 2019 and folks usually return with more questions.

You don’t need to feel alone when a loved one has Alzheimer’s or Dementia. Reach out and come visit. It’s free, it’s easy and it can really help.

And if you have any questions, I’m just a phone call away. 641 485 1672.

Call anytime

Sincerely,
Jennifer Stanley
Executive Director
The Willows of Marshalltown

Photo of Jennifer Stanley

Photo of Jennifer Stanley

But somehow the playing field always seems to shift again, doesn’t it?

The only constant that seems to stay is change.

Take Marshalltown for example. Remember Skate Town? The Mall? Stones Restaurant? All those buildings taken out by the tornado and derecho?

We dealt with those changes. They weren’t easy, but we’re Marshalltown Strong, so we got through it. And you know, every change we weathered; they all made us stronger.

Growing older is another change we all face. Grocery bags get heavier to carry, the stairs get harder and our memory takes some vacations.

Should we be surprised? Heck no. Should we be fearful? Of course not. Because we will weather these changes like all the rest and come out stronger for it.

I know, it’s easier said than done, right? But you know what? Aging just happens to be my specialty. A big part of my work every day is bringing understanding and confidence to the elderly in our community and helping them and their adult children navigate this next change in life.

Everyone who is aging or has aging parents needs an experienced advisor. Trying to figure this out on your own can lead to many missteps that could otherwise be avoided. This is one of life’s most crucial times and you need an experienced teammate.

Call me some time. My cell phone is – 4851672 – I’m here to help. We can chat on the phone, or you can have a coffee here at The Willows and I can answer any questions you might have and hey, you can meet some of our wonderful residents while you’re at it.

Because you know what? This change doesn’t have to be scary, in fact, it just might be the next great adventure, and I can be your guide.

Love,

Jennifer Stanley
Executive Director
The Willows of Marshalltown

Photo of Jennifer Stanley

Photo of Jennifer Stanley

I was born just a few weeks before my Mom graduated from high school. Right here in Marshalltown.

While I’m sure that raising me so young couldn’t have been easy, my Mom always had a wisdom beyond her years and she built a strong roadmap for me.

My Mom taught me that it was OK to be a kid and not grow up too fast, but she also showed me how to set goals and then achieve them, she encouraged me without pressuring me, she loved me, she cared for me, she supported me in everything.

Far too soon, at 36 years of age, I lost her. I was only 18 and my stepdad had passed just before her. My younger sister, brother and I were on our own.

During that incredibly difficult time, I began to realize that even though she was gone, the roadmap she left was still part of me. She had shown me how to have a servant’s heart, how to care for others, how to find strength and purpose. I used those lessons to pull myself up and support my siblings, to raise a family of my own, to get my master’s degree and to work hard and rise through the ranks.

And as I lead a business now, I realize that My Mom had also implanted the seeds I needed to be an anchor for hundreds of seniors. Seniors need much the same things our families do; they need love, care, attention, and someone to support them. Which is how my staff and I try to run The Willows, like this is our family. So when I go to work every day, I get to make her proud by living her legacy.

Thank you Mom, for teaching me how to lead with my heart.

I miss you every day and I love you so much.

Happy Mother’s Day to all Moms.

Photo of Jennifer Stanley

Photo of Jennifer Stanley

Just kidding.

You really should call me.

Whether you are an adult senior, or the relative of an adult senior.

I can help.

Because I know what you’re going through. At most stages along the way we have had someone to teach us how to get through the next step in our life with the most comfort and success. But as we get older those people to fill that role become fewer and fewer.

But you know what? The senior stage of your life can be as successful and enjoyable as when you or your Mom and Dad were young.

The funny thing is, after awhile we become “senior” to most everyone in our lives. And when that happens, who is going to teach us how to transform old age into something wonderful? I mean, when you were in high school and college do you ever remember a class on how to best serve your parents when they become seniors?

Most likely you haven’t, because the world has a way of emphasizing youth and ignoring senior life.

But that will all change when you contact me. Because seniors are my life.

Seniors are who I have been serving for decades. I know how to navigate this phase like the back of my hand. And I can pass on these special skills or suggestions to adult children or to seniors themselves.

So maybe you should call me. My cell is 641-485-1672.

You might wonder; what will that be like? We’ll just talk. I want to hear about your experience. The Willows is about helping seniors thrive in this next chapter of life, whether that means you move in with us, or take another route.

You know, on second thought, do call me, you can never do that too soon. 485-1672.Love,

Jennifer Stanley

Executive Director

The Willows of Marshalltown