Since 1920, Vernon Homes has been guided by our mission to serve and honor seniors by providing secure, comfortable and affordable retirement living. Our campus is home to a full spectrum of care and services that span independent living, assisting living, nursing care, Alzheimer’s care and physical rehabilitation services – all delivered with compassion and grace. Vernon Homes, is a member of Advent Christian Retirement Communities, which includes Meetinghouse Village, an independent senior living complex in Kittery, Maine.
Vernon Home is:
- An affordable, non-denominational community offering fees that are remarkably lower than senior communities in neighboring New England states
- Modestly sized, ensuring personal attention and a real sense of belonging
- Medicare- and Medicaid-certified
- Located in beautiful southern Vermont in a secure, peaceful natural setting on the banks of the Connecticut River
- Near two towns that provide a multitude of services (including recreational, dining and lodging possibilities) for residents and their family and friends
Residents need have no particular creedal stance or background to live here. Vernon Homes is a non-profit, 501(3c) organization that maintains and furthers its mission through rental income, government programs and private donations.
We will foster communities whose relationships and services are:
- Exceptional (Exceeding customary practices)
- Creative (Transforming commonplace thinking)
- Generous (Surpassing measured exchanges)
Communities of caring. Seasoned with grace. Our tagline underscores our commitment to serving seniors and how we serve them.
If you would like to explore a range of Vernon Homes giving options, click here.
Meet Our Leadership
I first became involved at Vernon Homes in 1996 when I completed an administrator-in-training program under Larry Knowles' leadership. I accepted an assistant administrator position in 1998, and then, with the leadership transitions that coincided with the establishment of Advent Christian Retirement Communities, I took on the executive director role in 2002.
For me, serving elders is a passion. I enjoy being surrounded by seniors every day. There is so much wisdom, experience, and wit among these seasoned individuals that you can't help but be blessed by being in their presence.
I also greatly appreciate working alongside people who daily fulfill the Vernon Homes mission. I'm privileged to have working with me individuals who go the extra mile. Because of their commitment I know that those we serve are well cared for.
As mentioned in the intro, I'm glad to have shared this email series with you so that you can appreciate what our leadership team brings to Vernon Homes. Of course, we have only scratched the surface showing what each of these individuals contributes. You should know too that many other staff members fulfill their roles every day with excellence, and that they have their own stories to tell. It's important to recognize the people who contribute to our success at providing quality care to residents.
I'll close with an anecdote. No one is really sure why, but without fail, one nursing home resident consistently calls me "Richard." I am happy to respond to this name, because whether I'm Brad, Richard, Tom, Dick or Harry, my purpose in being here does not change as I seek to bring the best direction and leadership to Vernon Homes.
Director of Human Resources
Coleen started as a part-time dietary aide in 1984. After a move to Maine, she returned and rejoined Vernon Homes first as a receptionist (who also performed billing, payables and payroll duties), next as an administrative assistant, and then to a department head position which soon dovetailed into her current position as director of human resources. Coleen's responsibilities are many and span hiring, benefits, payroll, new employee orientation and more.
She says, "I have loved being part of the Vernon Homes family, that's what it has been to me. I always remember the support I received when, as the receptionist at Vernon Hall, my young son was hospitalized for 10 days. Everyone's support was wonderful and helped to make a hard time more bearable. In fact, my two sons grew up around the residents. They'd bring a pet to share with residents or help pass out Christmas gifts or dress up at Halloween parties. Later, when both my boys were in the military and deployed overseas at Christmas, the staff created care packages for them. These things have become part of our family memories."
As an HR director, Coleen has a unique perspective on Vernon Homes' caring culture that includes residents and staff. She says, "I am privileged to see the way staff members are cared for not only at work but in their personal lives when things are tough. Whether it is with a hug, a gift, a listening ear or something else, Vernon Homes is certainly a community of caring, seasoned with grace."
Emmie Miner and Holly Nichols
People are at the center of the exceptional care that makes Vernon Homes a special place. With that in mind, we'd like to introduce the managers who do so much to ensure our continued success in a new email series. Their care and hard work are responsible for the heart-felt notes of appreciation we receive all the time from families of residents, not to mention the string of awards Vernon Homes wins year after year.
Emmie was promoted to Director of Housekeeping and Laundry last year. Supervising a team of housekeepers, she is responsible for the cleanliness of our facilities, infection control and laundry. Emmie takes great initiative and, together with her team, ensures that Vernon Homes operates to the highest standards. Emmie has been with us since 2012.
Also last year, we promoted Holly Nicholas to Food Service Director. Holly oversees all aspects of the Dietary Department and is charged with responsibilities that span providing superb service to our residents, planning menus, recruiting and training team members, and more. Holly began as a housekeeper in 2005 and was promoted to Director of Housekeeping and Laundry in 2010 before becoming Food Service Director. Her thoughtful and diligent approach to her work keeps residents and staff alike happy and well-fed.
Vernon Homes again received quality and leadership awards for 2016. The quality care we deliver and that we are recognized for is because of great people like Emmie, Holly and their teams!
David Welenc and Emily Vergobbe
Each time we open a note of thanks from the family of a resident, or receive another quality award, we’re reminded of the team effort that goes into delivering the Vernon Homes quality experience. This second in our series recognizes the people responsible for the smooth running of the financial side of our organization, David Welenc and Emily Vergobbe.
Describing himself as the "steward of Vernon Homes' assets," David has been our director of finance since 2003.
Aside from the responsibilities of keeping our finances in order, David's career at Vernon is motivated by his own life experience. He says, "I was blessed to be able to care for my mother and father as they aged and became more dependent on me. It taught me a valuable lesson about how important it is to honor those who have gone before us."
Our elders are treasures who let us see into the past. David enjoys interacting with residents and learning about their experiences, including the resident who served with General Douglas MacArthur in World War II, and another who was a submariner whose patrol included sailing beneath the North Pole ice.
Vernon's top financial expert gains inspiration from being "part of the important later years of people's lives and helping provide a place they can call home."
Emily has been our assistant director of finance since 2009. For Emily, "every day is different" as she handles wide ranging responsibilities that span accounts receivable to quarterly government reporting.
Ever the professional, she says, "My greatest satisfaction comes at the close of the fiscal year when daily, monthly, and quarterly tasks are cleanly reconciled to create a picture of the financial health of the organization."
She goes on to say, "I am blessed to work for a Christian organization that honors residents and their families and friends. The staff here is second to none and valued by management. My role as a support staff member is to assure our residents and their families that their care is of utmost importance and that the financial aspects of their care will be handled with honesty and integrity."
Thank you David and Emily for your expertise and caring!
Wanda Scully and Nancy Ayotte-Williams
For the third entry in our managers series, we proudly introduce the nursing leaders at Vernon Green Nursing Home, Wanda Scully and Nancy Ayotte-Williams.
Wanda Scully, RNC
Wanda has been Vernon Green's Director of Nursing since 2007. Her leadership path started when she joined the nursing staff in 2001 as an LPN. Wanda also worked toward her Registered Nurse degree during this time. She was promoted and worked as a Charge Nurse for a few years before attaining the Assistant Director of Nursing position. With her experience and education, she was a natural when a retirement created a vacancy for the director position.
Responsible for planning and directing our nursing operation, she says, "I promote the mission and values of Vernon Green and its nursing department. The many hats I wear can include writing policies and procedures, staff scheduling, educating, attending/holding meetings, budgeting and supervising. All with the goal of assuring the best resident care."
Wanda recognizes that changes brought on by long-term care or even short-term rehab are difficult. She says, "My job is challenging and requires critical thinking as different situations arise. If you take time to listen to elders' wisdom, it can make a huge difference in their day. Nothing puts a smile on my face more than being able to make them smile or making them feel part of our family."
Nancy Ayotte-Williams, RN
Serving as Assistant Director of Nursing since 2015, Nancy oversees nursing staff, provides direct care to residents, and assists the nursing director in numerous areas such as completing audits.
She says, "I love interacting with our residents and families. Learning about them and the lives that they have lived helps me in providing care plans that enable residents to continue to live their lives as they want to."
Before becoming the Assistant Director, Nancy started in 2009 as a Unit Manager where she managed day-to-day resident care, supervised nursing staff, planned care with doctors and families, and helped ensure standards compliance, among other duties.
She says, "I am grateful to work in a facility that aims to provide the highest quality of care to elders. My goal every day is to deliver it. And you know, the little things of daily life really matter. So along with ensuring they're taking their meds correctly, helping someone sit comfortably or get the type of toast they like for breakfast is important."
We are fortunate to have skillful and caring leaders like Wanda and Nancy. Thanks to both of them!
Saluting our social services leaders
Sue Arsenault and Carrie Desmaris
We recognize Sue Arsenault and Carrie Desmaris for their caring and thoughtful leadership of Vernon Green's social services program.
Sue Arsenault, Director of Social Services
After volunteering at Vernon Green in 1981, Sue joined us in 1986 as a part-time worker who helped residents with bathing and other personal care. She progressed to full-time LNA and then in 1989 became the Special Needs Unit Program Director. Sue planned and implemented daily activities and also trained other staff members in dementia care.
She became the Activities Coordinator, for both Vernon Green and Vernon Hall before moving to her current position in 2008. The Director role is wide ranging, starting with reviewing applications and referrals for residency and working with referring organizations, families of residents, and consultants. Assisted by Carrie Demaris, Sue says, "I'm part of an interdisciplinary team that works together to support the emotional and social well-being of residents in their new homes here. I enjoy being a resident advocate and making the quality of their lives better."
"Serving residents with compassion and zeal rings true for me. My day is not complete unless I have sparked some joy in a resident. During my early volunteer work I remember how much an activity that brought young children together with residents brightened the day of those seniors. I also used to play Scrabble with a gentleman. This was not just special for him, but for me too because my grandfathers had both passed before I was born."
Sue may hold the record for the best manager's anecdote. A single parent when she started here, she was in the laundry looking for an item when a coworker named Alice asked if she could help Sue find what she was looking for. While Alice did not have the item, she did have a picture of her brother Tim. Sue married the man in the photo two years later. We'll have to wait and see if any manager can top this one.
Carrie Desmaris, Assistant to the Director of Social Services
Carrie started at Vernon Green in 1994 as an LNA after completing a class here. She added skills along the way such as ordering supplies and taking inventory, and in time became an LNA manager.
In March of this year she took on her current position. Her responsibilities are many and include: facilitating relations with residents, family, friends and staff; being a liaison between residents, Vernon Green and referring organizations; and helping residents obtain social services they may need. She also gets to drive residents to appointments. While the job generally involves "lots of paperwork," Carrie's ability to engage with residents and great willingness to "make pit stops for a coffee, muffin or a McDonalds meal" make many a resident's day.
She values the close relationships with the residents and staff, and says, "It amazes me how close one becomes to these folks. I recently had knee surgery. During my recovery, I received a beautiful get-well card from a resident who thanked me for being thoughtful and who wished me a speedy recovery. If that doesn't tell me we are doing something right, nothing does!"
Sue and Carrie are perfect examples of Vernon Homes managers who provide the compassionate care that upholds our reputation on a daily basis.
Saluting our Assisted Living Leadership
Rookie Olson and Debbie VanNess
Rookie Olson and Debbie VanNess lead our assisted living community, Vernon Hall.
Peter “Rookie” Olson
Rookie joined us as Manager of Vernon Hall in 2013. His prior experience as an educator, coach and camp administrator made him a great fit to lead and take responsibility for daily management and oversight of our assisted living community, as well as for ensuring full occupancy at The Hall.
He says, “On a personal level, I totally enjoy the interaction with residents. I want everyone at Vernon Hall to experience a family atmosphere. And the manager in me finds professional fulfillment in organizing and directing the duties of our great team.”
“As a son, I share the experience of other sons and daughters with parents who moved through independence to nursing care, so I understand the journey that residents’ families are on. It makes me a better manager.”
Of course, as a sports enthusiast and former New Yorker, being a New Englander requires some adjustments -- and a sense of humor. Accordingly, his office displays both a Mets baseball cap and a “Yankee Hater” cap. The latter keeps Rookie on the good side of most visitors to his office.
Debbie VanNess, RNC
Debbie VanNess is Vernon Hall’s Service Coordinator. She moved to Vernon Hall in 2007 after serving, since 1985, as a charge nurse at Vernon Green where she was responsible for patient care, assessments, care plans, doctor calls, family meetings and resident education.
In her Service Coordinator position, Debbie oversees resident assessments, health plans, education and staff training. The personal relationship part of her work is what she finds most fulfilling. Debbie says, "Interacting with residents is the favorite part of my job. Seeing them smile and laugh makes me happy.”
In her view, “Elders are often forgotten. I want them to be remembered. Encouraging them to share their experiences and stories is one way to do that.”
And bringing out a little Yogi Berra-style wit does not hurt. Debbie relates, "One day I routinely asked a resident if he was alright. With a twinkle in his eye, he told me he was half left. It's the little, fun interactions like this that I find so valuable and enriching.”
Peter and Debbie are talented members of the Vernon management team, bringing professionalism and the personal touch to the mission of serving our residents.