Green House Blog

Living the Good Life: Sharla Lee



“Living the good life” is a blog series celebrating the lives of people living with dementia in Green House homes.  In Green House homes across the country, elders are creative, resourceful and whole people who have a valuable story to share.


Sharla Lee lived a colorful life as a performer, gracing many stages and breaking many hearts. Legend has it that she was even asked out on a date by baseball superstar, Joe DiMaggio. When cognitive impairment made it unsafe for her tshahbaz and elder standing and embracingo live on her own, this talented pianist may have faded away, but thanks to Baptist Retirement Community Green House homes in San Angelo, Texas, her star continued to shine bright.

Always the professional, Sharla would wake up at 5:00a every morning in her Green House home in order to practice the piano. She loved to play for the elders during the evening meal, choosing to eat later, after her performance. In Green House homes, the day is centered around the individual elders’ natural rhythms and preferences. The small size enableelder woman and child at pianos the home to run smoothly based on deep knowing relationships rather than task oriented schedules. As a musician, Sharla’s preferred schedule was different than that of others living in The Green House home, and by honoring that, her personhood remained intact despite dementia.
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Sharla brought joy to others in The Green House home, through her music, and also by being an engaged member of the household. She was made an “honorary shahbaz”, the name given to direct care staff in Green House homes, because she was always willing to help by rolling napkins, setting the table and befriending the other elders in the home. Reciprocity, the ability to receive and also give care, is a key element of Green House homes. As humans, we need to feel a sense of purpose. It may seem like a simple thing, but the value of sharing your gifts with others is something that can’t be overstated.elder man and woman eating on terrace 2

elder woman reading curled in chairMae West once said, “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” Sharla Lee dazzled audiences in San Francisco supper clubs, on cruise ships and thankfully, in her Green House home as well. By knowing Sharla’s story, and creating opportunities for her to shine, her Green House family made sure that Sharla lived “the good life”.


The Green House Family Continues to Expand…This Time in Beaumont, Texas!

In late April ground was broken at Calder Woods, a Buckner Senior Living Community, on a $25.9 million expansion and remodel at their campus.  Two new skilled nursing Green House homes are part of the first phase of this project.  The homes will include 10 private bedrooms and bathrooms, open kitchen, hearth and access to the outdoors.  Construction begins in May and is expected to be completed by the end of 2017. The new space will also include 36 independent living garden apartments and enlarging and renovating the current assisted living area in the community.

With the construction of the homes at Calder Woods, this will be the fourth campus in the Buckner organization that will include Green House homes.

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Celebrating the groundbreaking are, from left: Jordan Lovelady, BRS manager of financial analysis and planning; former Buckner trustee Nell McCallum Morris; Pat Crump, BRS vice president for operations; Calder Woods resident Sibyl Allen; State Rep. Dade Phelan; Calder Woods resident and Buckner trustee emeritus Mack Fullbright; Albert L. Reyes, President and CEO, Buckner International; Jefferson County Judge Jeff Brannick; Port of Beaumont Commissioner Pat Anderson: Calder Woods resident and former Beaumont mayor Evelyn Lord; Charlie Wilson, BRS senior vice president; Susan Frazier Ryan, Senior Director for the Green House Project; Allison Getz, Jefferson County tax assessor/collector; and Ben Mazzara, Calder Woods executive director.



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Experiencing success, Buckner brings The Green House model to new communities  

Dallas, Tx — June 4, 2015 – Buckner Retirement Living, a non-profit organization located in Texas, has a long history of working with The Green House Project, a not-for-profit that is part of Capital Impact’s Community Solutions Group, and is now entering into a new contract to build new  Green House homes in Texas.

Buckner is partnering with The Green House Project to add Green House homes to their new Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) in Dallas, to help reposition their community in San Angelo and to expand their Beaumont CCRC to serve more elders with skilled care needs.

“We believe The Green House model is the best way to serve elders who need 24-hour nursing.” says Pat Crump, Vice President of Operations of Buckner Retirement Living “Our current Green House homes have been hugely successful, as evidenced by high family and resident satisfaction surveys, great clinical outcomes and extremely low staff turnover.”

The Green House model creates real homes for 10 to 12 elders, complete with private rooms and baths, home-cooked meals, and access to the outdoors.  And by providing elders with dignity, autonomy and choice, Green House homes provide people with the best quality of life possible.  The Green House model delivers better outcomes than traditional nursing homes, with potential to reduce hospitalizations and the cost of care.

For Crump, his past success was key in his decision to expand this model throughout his company, “We have benefitted from having  a proven model and the great support from The Green House team.   We strongly believe that providing elders a home as opposed to “warehousing” them in a nursing home is the right thing to do, and our customers agree.  The higher census we experience with this model equates to solid financial performance.”

Buckner Retirement Living is part of a larger effort nationwide to dramatically improve the way aging Americans receive long-term care. With the number of 85-year-olds in the U.S. increasing by 50 percent by 2030, a new approach for long-term care has never been more important.

“The financial and clinical success that Buckner Retirement has experienced provides strong validation for The Green House model,” said Scott Brown, Director of Outreach for The Green House Project.  “The lower turnover, higher census, and positive clinical outcomes meet the growing demand to provide high quality care at a lower cost.”

“We commend Buckner Retirement Living for their vision, as pioneers of The Green House movement, and their commitment to never build another traditional nursing home,” Mr. Brown continues,   “We are honored to partner with Pat and his team to transform long term care in Texas.”


About The Green House Project: The Green House Project is a radically new, national model for skilled-nursing care that returns control, dignity and a sense of well-being to elders, their families and direct care staff. In the Green House model, residents receive care in small, self-contained homes organized to deliver individualized care, meaningful relationships and better direct care jobs through a self-managed team of direct care staff working in cross-trained roles. Green House homes meet all state and federal regulatory and reimbursement criteria for skilled-nursing facilities.


About Buckner Retirement Living: Since 1879, Buckner has served people in need across Texas.  Expanding to 8 communities, Buckner one of the largest not-for-profit senior living organizations in Texas dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for senior adults and their families by promoting an active, healthy Christian lifestyle while maintaining their independence and dignity.  Over the years, Buckner has continued to refine, renovate and update their settings, programs and services to meet the needs of each new generation of residents. But one thing hasn’t changed: their faith-filled commitment to providing them with a rewarding way to live and the highest quality of living.