The residents of Lenbrook refuse to let their golden years float idly by.
The bustling Brookhaven retirement community celebrated its 30th anniversary last month, a prime opportunity for many longtime staff members — nine of whom who have worked at the community for more than 20 years — and residents to recognize the milestone.
Located almost precisely where Brookhaven meets Buckhead, Lenbrook was founded by Atlanta businessman Jack Clark in 1983 and became a model for senior living through offering plenty of activities while providing residents a complete range of health care services.
Since opening with 80 residents, Lenbrook has expanded facilities to house 450 and added several different amenities, including three restaurants, a movie theatre and a fitness center with an indoor heated pool.
Several residents took to the warm water last week to participate in senior fitness instructor Merwyn Morris’ five-day-a-week water aerobics class focused on increasing flexibility and heart rate through low-impact exercise.
Morris, who began his career at Lenbrook 21 years ago, shouted commands while encouraging residents to push just a little harder. No one seemed to mind his drill-sergeant style.
“I try to come every day I can,” said resident Gracie Phillips, who also takes tai chi and yoga. “He’s wonderful. He’s the best.”
For Certified Nursing Assistant Katherine Scott, who has worked at Lenbrook for 24 years, the friendly feeling is mutual.
“Being here just makes you light up,” she said. “Our residents are so funny. If you like to laugh, this is the place.”
The employee who is arguably the proudest of his experience is Lenbrook’s longest-running staff member, Senior Activities Director Eric Duke, who has been with the company 29 years.
Though he never planned a career working with seniors, Duke said he would encourage anyone entering the workforce to consider the field.
“Long ago I asked the Lord to use me as a vessel and I am confident that I was given that opportunity through my work here at Lenbrook,” Duke said. “So many conversations and good memories I have experienced with the residents are recalled when things settle and I have some quiet time.”
Duke, who married and had two children during his almost three decades at Lenbrook, still admires its founder, Clark.
“I have witnessed that one man’s idea born out of desire for a better choice for his own parents,” he said, “has become an industry leader with a positive influence on all aspects of retirement living, especially in the quality of care and thus has become a better choice for many.”