The Evergreen Program


Today in American society, we are bombarded with commercials and magazine advertisements that show us how to minimize the effects of aging.  From wrinkle cream to hair dye, these messages encourage people to hide their age, life experiences, mid-life crises, as well as suffer in silence through the changes in both body and mind.

Village Concepts, a third generation family-owned business that owns and operates residential and assisted living communities throughout Washington state, is aiming to change this view of aging through their Evergreen Program.  The Evergreen program is a lifestyle program that enhances brain vitality,  physical and emotional growth, and helps residents prepare for the next phase in life through a combination of self-reflection, exercise, and activities.

The program is introduced to the staff through new employee orientation, and routine refresher seminars.  It is here that the staff gets involved in the program through day to day activities, customer interactions, and active participation in selected pieces of the program’s whole.  Residents are then introduced to the Evergreen program upon move-in, and continue through the program with educational offerings, participation in activities, reflection, sharing of expertise through teaching and mentoring, as well as future planning.

The Evergreen program includes four “core” seminars that introduce the program’s main holistic aging topics:  Adaptability to Change, Positive Outlook and Gratitude, Brain/Body Connection, and Re-Imagining Yourself.  Educational classes are built on the core seminar topics, and are taught by an employee, resident, family member, or community member through “Village Concepts University.”  Students may include residents, staff, and community members.

Each Village Concepts community also infuses movement into daily routines.  There are four types of exercises including: cardiovascular exercise through walking, swimming, biking and gardening; strength training with free weights and weight machines; flexibility through yoga and gentle stretching; and balance through Tai Chi, chair balancing, and toe walking.

Based on research that correlates less depression and higher life satisfaction in elderly people with thankful and positive attitudes, the program infuses gratitude in the everyday lives of residents and staff at Village Concepts.  Research also shows that routines lead to cognitive decline, so Village Concepts encourages small daily changes to help residents improve brain function.  These changes may  include shopping at different stores, sitting near someone different at lunch, trying new foods, listening to different types of music, and more.

The concept of the program is based around the Evergreen tree, which has qualities Village Concepts aims to emulate.  While set in one place, the Evergreen still moves with the changing seasons and winds, making the Evergreen stronger with its ability to accommodate to change.  As the Evergreen ages, it becomes stronger and more well-defined.  Similar to people, the Evergreen tree is best suited with others: a forest of Evergreens is strong, and the group supports the individual.

Village Concepts draws upon 40 years of experience, and a proud tradition of providing personalized care to more than 1,400 residents in 14 senior living communities throughout Washington State.  Each community encourages residents to “bring retirement to life” by providing personalized care, fostering new relationships, and encouraging independence through programs such as the Evergreen program.

Families, friends, volunteers, and community members are all encouraged to learn more about the Evergreen Program and assist in enriching not only their own lives, but the lives of residents, through active participation in all of the program’s distinct parts.

During the second half of life, people have an opportunity to share their wisdom and knowledge with others. Village Concepts has made it their commitment to help residents share their stories through mentoring, teaching a class, or writing a book.  Whatever the outlet is, it will surely bring great life satisfaction.

The older generation has the ability to thrive and grow, and Village Concepts recognizes that.  This is no standard retirement program. Through new enlightened experiences through the Evergreen program, older adults don’t need to leave their active, enriched lives behind.

Tracy Willis is the Director of Corporate Development.  She can be reached at 206-316-7555, or email her at

Oak Harbor retirement center recognized for care


Hazel Welliver, the executive director of Harbor Tower Village in Oak Harbor, is proud of the retirement community, with good reason.

Harbor Tower Village was recently awarded the bronze Commitment to Quality Award from the American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living. This award is given to communities that exemplify a commitment to the goal of making lives for their residents better.

The bronze award is the first applicants can receive; after that, they can then apply for the silver award and then the gold.

But Harbor Tower Village, while planning on applying for the silver award in the fall, won’t be changing anything about how they run their facility to sway their chances.

“We’ll always just do what we’ve got to do and try to make (life) better for them,” said nurse Shannon DelCiello, who runs the Wellness Department for Harbor Tower Village.

Welliver credits DelCiello as being instrumental in earning the national recognition.

As part of their application for the award, the community had to provide a measurable example of how they improved the life of a resident, so DelCiello suggested the story of how two residents with uncontrolled diabetes were saved from having to go on insulin. She said when she arrived at the community, the two residents had very high blood sugar and were quickly approaching a point of needing insulin.

“I thought, you know what, we’re going to see if we can stop that,” DelCiello said.

Her plan involved working with the two residents to get them to make healthier choices in regard to food and exercise, and to educate them on how to continue making those choices without constant supervision.

“So the staff, the entire staff, the kitchen, myself, the doctor and families all worked together in unison to try to get these people to make healthier choices for themselves without having to be watched all the time,” DelCiello said.

Eventually, one of the residents no longer needed to regularly check their blood sugar at all, and the other resident went from having to check four or more times a day to only checking twice a week.

So when she was asked to provide a measurable example for the award application, this was first on her mind.

“I think that if you can take something like that and be able to make their lives better so that they, one, felt so much better about themselves and, for two, they accomplished something that was great in their lives,” DelCiello said. “I think that was fantastic.”

According to her, the all-inclusive, hands-on approach to helping improve the lives of their residents is their normal strategy.

“You have to be involved with all of your residents on a personal level,” DelCiello said. “They’re not just diagnoses, they’re not just ‘folks in a home,’ they are actually people, and we need to be able to take what they’ve got and make it better.”

DelCiello has been a geriatrics nurse for 32 years and started when she was 17 years old. She said geriatrics is her passion.

“They do an outstanding job of quality for their seniors in their community, and they are working toward making sure everybody has good, great experiences at their building,” said Stuart Brown, chief operating officer of Village Concepts, the assisted living management company Harbor Tower Village is a part of.

Eight Village Concepts communities received the bronze award for commitment to quality this year. Brown said that so many communities receiving the award this year helps the company recognize that they are “consistently, throughout all of our communities” committed to quality care.

“It’s a privilege to come into work,” Welliver said. “That’s how all of us feel. We’ve got a tremendous staff.

“You can’t teach somebody to have that compassion gene. They either have it or they don’t. You can teach them to do a job, but you can’t teach them to care. And this staff cares.”

Pictured: Lou Biddle looks through a selection of books brought by the Sno-Isle Library Bookmobile. Program Director Arielle Corrin arranged for it to start coming once a month so the residents could check out books to read that aren’t offered in the Harbor Tower Village library. Image Credit: Photo By Michelle Beahm/Whidbey News-Times

Park View Villas recognized for care


PORT ANGELES-Park View Villas, together with seven other Village Concepts communities throughout Washington state, was nationally recognized by the American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living as a 2014 recipient of the Bronze Commitment to Quality Award for its dedication to improving the lives of residents through quality care.

“Park View Villas strives to offer the best care o the Olympic Peninsula,” said John LeClerc, executive director of Park View Villas, 1430 Park View Lane.

The bronze award, followed by silver and gold, is the first in a series of three levels of the National Quality Award Program presented by the association and the center.

The program recognizes senior communities across the nation that have continually demonstrated their commitment to improving quality care for seniors and individuals with disabilities.

Spiritwood at Pine Lake voted Best Workplaces for Waste Reduction and Recycling

unnamedKing County welcomes Spiritwood at Pine Lake to its list of best Workplaces for Waste Reduction and Recycling. An assisted living community on the Sammamish Plateau, Spiritwood at Pine Lake serves and cares for their residents in all aspects of life including dining, activities and care services. This year they introduced their green program that includes recycling and composting in all staff departments and residential areas of the community. Colored bins and instruction posters are now located throughout the community to make being green easy and accessible to all residents and staff members. Staff and resident guidance is on-going daily. With the implementation of this program, residents and staff have reduced Spiritwood’s garbage collection by half. They are very proud of what they have achieved so far and plan to continue to expand their green program.

Advice to others: “You are never too old to be green!”