Making the Season Bright for All

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Holidays are usually a time of joy and togetherness, but people will need to keep their distance this season with the pandemic continuing. Separation from others is a struggle for many, especially our communities’ residents, where socialization is frequent and is a crucial part of mental health. Embrace Living Communities takes pride in providing a place where residents and team members can enrich their lives. Everyone involved in the organization is considered family, and Embrace Living is committed to maintaining this family orientation through its supportive programming and quality living facilities.

This holiday season shines an even greater light on these efforts to ensure the season is bright for all. Read the stories of a resident and team member in the Embrace Living family at Greencastle of Elmhurst to learn how they plan to make their time at the community a little merrier for all.

Elena’s Place to Call Home for the Holidays

Elena knows the importance of a close family. As one of nine children, she was born in Mexico and brought to the United States when she was a child. “It was a hard time for my parents, but we all worked together and made it through,” remembers Elena.

Today, Elena takes great pride in her growing family. She has four children, eight grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. She lives at Greencastle of Elmhurst and has called it her home for the past ten years. She moved to Elmhurst to be near her two children. Before becoming a resident, she lived at Embrace Living Communities’ Immanuel Residences and Castle Towers located in the West Chicago suburbs.

Elena has much to be thankful for this season. She loves living at Greencastle of Elmhurst and stays busy gardening and tending to her plants inside. “I like my neighbors, too,” she says. “Since we can’t play bingo, play cards or cook together as we did before the pandemic, I like to put books in the baskets by their doors.”

She has gotten into the holiday spirit by decorating and preparing for a socially distant Christmas bingo event at the community. The Embrace Living team put up decorations and provided residents time with their families, all while remaining safe.

“My mom always said Christmas is the best time of the year,” she explains. “With family together, you cook and eat. It is very sad now that you can’t even go to church. I used to go to church a lot. Now I pray in my room before I go to bed. That keeps me going.”

She is also excited that she will be receiving cochlear implants in the new year to help with her hearing. “I can’t hear very well, and the masks sometimes make it difficult for me to understand others,” she says. In addition, she read out loud as part of her hearing therapy, which also helps.

In all, it’s been a tough year for everyone, but Elena knows there is so much to be thankful for, beginning with the place she calls home. “Embrace’s staff is the best,” says Elena. “For me, they are angels. They help us a lot. When a place is nice and kept nice, you feel comfortable, and you want to stay. This is where I want to stay.”

Jacki Finds Holiday Joy from a Caring Team

Jacki has seen 15 holiday seasons come and go while with Embrace Living Communities. Today, she takes pride in her role as the manager of Greencastle of Elmhurst. Through those years, she has grown to consider her team and the residents as part of her family. “We understand that Christmas is going to be difficult this season,” says Jacki. “We really want to find new ways to celebrate while keeping everyone safe and healthy.”

Jacki plans to carry on her tradition of sending each resident a little gift. She knows that it’s a nice touch that makes the season brighter for them. “This year will be a monogrammed coffee mug filled with small delights,” she’s excited to say. “We know we are limited with what we can do, so we just try to validate their emotions, be empathetic and be a listening ear.”

During this holiday season, Jacki shares that the pandemic has made her reflect on ways she’s thankful for residents and team members who have helped and supported her career journey.

Jacki began her career at Embrace Living Communities in 2005 at Immanuel Residences in Downers Grove, Illinois. Kathy Pedigo, the community’s manager, hired her and became Jacki’s closest mentor. With Kathy’s support and her own ambition, Jacki achieved her goal and became the manager of Patten House of Glenview in 2016 and Greencastle of Elmhurst two years later.

“I did not expect to fall in love with this kind of job, but I love it, my team and my residents,” she says.

She especially felt the team’s warmth and support when her husband had serious health issues a few years ago. “I felt so supported by my staff and my leaders,” says Jacki.” They know that family comes first, and as long as I do my job, and I do it well, then I have the flexibility to do both.”


We at Embrace Living are thankful for our residents, staff and supporters, who we consider part of our extended family. We wish you all a safe and happy holiday.