By Amber Springer of Gardant Management Solutions

Last week, I had the opportunity to take photos at a celebration for Beryl Jannsen, a 102-year-old who had been honored with a Centenarian Award.

Heritage Woods of Freeport - Cententarian Award Winner - Beryl

Beryl, the 2016 Centenarian Award winner, shows off a book of congratulatory cards that residents and employees signed for her.

Beryl, a resident at our affordable assisted living community in Freeport, Illinois, was nominated for the award because of her positive outlook on life. She has been an active member of the community and always enjoyed visiting with her friends and playing two of her favorite games: bingo and euchre.

“She never showed her age nor complained. She lived her life with enjoyment,” Heritage Woods of Freeport Administrator Sheila Amborn said, recalling fond memories of Beryl, one of the community’s original residents. “Beryl truly made an impression on me. If I make it to 100, I want to be like her.”


Heritage Woods Administrator Sheila Amborn nominated Beryl for the Affordable Assisted Living Coalition’s Centenarian Award and said Beryl will be dearly missed by everyone at the community.

Surrounded by friends and other residents, Beryl, who volunteered at Freeport Hospital and dedicated more than 30 years to her career at Burgess Battery, was honored for living a life that others could admire. The Affordable Assisted Living Coalition, which recognizes one centenarian each year, sponsored an ice cream social for Beryl. She asked for two big scoops of vanilla ice cream, and I overheard her tell a friend that she couldn’t believe she was receiving a plaque, and there was all this fuss over her – at her age. She posed for pictures, showed off her award and looked through a pile of congratulatory cards that her friends signed. It was a day she said she’d always remember.


A table display was set out at Heritage Woods of Freeport in Beryl’s honor during the centenarian celebration.

The next day, the staff at the community told me that Beryl had passed away. It was heartbreaking to learn that the woman who had been so vibrant, quietly taking in the attention for all that she’d done and continued to do in the century she’d been alive, was gone.

All of the preparation that went into making the day special – from the 1914 artifacts that were borrowed from the local history museum to the table decorated in her honor, the book of cards and all of the staff who pitched in to serve ice cream during the social – is just part of what our employees do every day. They put their time, energy and love into making residents feel special. They think of the residents who trust us with their care like family – and for Beryl, they gave her a send-off filled with the outpouring of love she deserved.

“Our residents have spent most of their lives giving to others, working hard to support a family, caring for others and creating traditions for the next generations; it is an honor for us to give back to them and enjoy their company.” – Sheila Amborn, Heritage Woods of Freeport Administrator

Located in north central Illinois, Freeport is the county seat for Stephenson County. Heritage Woods of Freeport is certified to operate through the Illinois Supportive Living Program.


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