A truly wonderful couple in our community recently made the difficult decision to relocate to California to be closer to family. They were part of our family for six years. We will miss them immensely. Before moving, the husband penned a heartfelt letter to me describing why they loved Lenbrook so much. With his permission, I'd like to share part of it with you.

Searching for a Community ... Twice

In his letter, he wrote:

"After a diligent evaluation of about 20 of the best retirement communities in the West Los Angeles area, I can say without hesitation that nothing in that area comes even close to being as perfect as Lenbrook. I think you've achieved your goal of making Lenbrook the number one retirement community in the Southeast, and I would be willing to bet it is among the top 10 in the country. We have been very happy here and feel we were privileged to have been a part of the Lenbrook family."

We celebrated and thanked this special resident for his leadership at our quarterly meeting of all Past Presidents of Lenbrook's Residents Association (starting this meeting was his idea). Again, he expressed why he felt Lenbrook is an excellent community. He told the story of when the accreditation survey team visited Lenbrook a few years back and how he directly asked one of the accreditation surveyors, "What is different about Lenbrook?" Without pause, the surveyor replied, "I have been to many communities and Lenbrook has the most engaged residents of any community I've ever surveyed."

What's First: Excellent or Engaged?

As he told that story, I thought about the chicken and the egg principle. Did we become excellent because of our engaged residents, or because we were excellent our residents became engaged? I would suggest that the two go hand in hand and progress together.

Engaged residents won’t stay engaged very long if they don't feel heard and aren't involved. Lenbrook wouldn't have become excellent without engaged associates, staff and board that harness the power of the residents by listening first and then acting in a professional manner.

Internally, we often define Lenbrook's success as having "Engaged residents served by engaged associates and guided by engaged board members."

Which comes first, excellence or engagement, isn't really the point. Rather, creating a community of engaged people -- residents, associates and board members -- is a core principle of who we are and who we want to be, always. We believe we can't be excellent without all parties being engaged -- engagement means you have an investment and means you care.

Maybe one reason it was so difficult for this couple to decide to move is because they were so engaged at Lenbrook. They demonstrated engagement to a tee! I am sure this level of engagement also gave him a different lens from which to evaluate prospective senior communities in California.

We wish our dear friends well in their new home on the West Coast. And they know they will always have a second home with us at Lenbrook.