We all want the same thing in life: to be heard, loved and eventually taken care of when we can no longer take care of ourselves. We can only hope when we no longer have a voice, are too weak to walk and our minds seem to wander to unknown places, that someone kind enough will be there when we need them most. Someone who isn’t there to take advantage of our frail state and who graciously allows us to feel as if we still matter. Someone who still looks at us like a person and is compassionate enough to look past our short comings. Someone like Gail Young, who has devoted most of her career and life to helping those who can no longer help themselves.
It all started back in 1971, when Gail’s mother-in-law, Josephine Young, opened Young Home for the Elderly. Josephine needed a way to provide for her 8 children after having lost her husband and his tool and die business. Josephine had been born and raised in Ireland. As a young woman, she set off for London. While she studied to become a nurse, she met and married Ronald Guy Young. England was in the midst of World War II and he was a member of the Royal Air Force. Josephine, Ron and their 3 children emigrated to America in 1952. They had five more children and were married for 25 years before Ron sadly lost his battle to leukemia in 1967.
When faced with having to raise a family of nine on her own, Josephine put her nursing skills to good use. She began to take care of “patients” in her home for extra money. For those that are elderly, but most certainly “Young” in heart. She bought a farm house on Nine Mile, a rural area outside of Detroit, Michigan, and began accepting more people who needed help. That way she could be at home with her children and also provide for her family. She cared for her patients on the main floor of her house, while she and six of her eight children lived in the three bedroom upper flat. Today, Young Home for the Elderly still operates out of the same farm house that was purchased back in 1971.
When it became time for Josephine to retire in 1986, it was only natural for her to sell her business to her son, Randy, who had an MBA and his wife, Gail, with a psychology degree. Randy and Gail complimented each other with their unique backgrounds. They successfully operated and expanded the business over the next 18 years until the world lost another good one. In 2004 Randy passed away at the young age of 50. Gail continued to run Young Home, making it her passion and a source of income.
Gail also raised her children in the upper flat of Young Home and was able to provide for her family. She put her heart and soul into her business, making Young Home a name she could be proud of. From sunrise to sunset, Gail spent her time doing anything she could for her residents. It was normal for her to be baking cookies for them, planning events or simply spending time listening to lifetimes of stories. Gail lived for Young Home up until this year when she decided to begin a new chapter in her life. She decided to sell, but only to the right owner that showed just as much love and passion as she has for Young Home. Gail felt it was time for her to focus more time for herself.
Gail, expecting to begin a new chapter, instead found the best of both worlds. The new owner, Dan Abramson, offered Gail an opportunity to remain the face and vital life source of Young Home. She moved into a new home and is now able to separate herself just enough from Young Home to freely live, but yet still experience all the joys of Young Home offers. Gail is now able to focus more on planning special events for the residents and spending precious quality time with them.
Gail wears a permanent smile on her face when she speaks about her residents, who to her are a part of her family. Her excitement and the happiness in her heart shines through. As I watch Gail interact with one of the residents, it’s as if no one in the world exists except that one special person who has found a place in her soul. She truly cares and wishes the best for each and every person who has found a home in Young Home. Gail expresses to me how honored and lucky she is to have had Young Home in her life; it has been her source of happiness for most of her life.
Young Home for the Elderly is not your average nursing home or caregiver facility. Gail prides herself on being able to provide exceptional care, going above and beyond for her residents. They are no longer patients to Gail, they are residents who can still be themselves with a little help. Gail has instilled a certain level of quality care in her staff. It is a home full of life and love. A home that never turns down an elder who needs help.
It smells of warm, soft, fresh baked cookies when you walk in the door. The staff is there to greet you as they are folding laundry or prepping one of the many snacks or meals for the residents. Each resident is bathed daily, something almost unheard of in this industry. Gail makes sure to open a window in each room every day, even in the dead of winter, to keep the facility feeling fresh and clean. Each meal is mostly home made and tailored towards each resident’s special diet. Most importantly Gail makes sure that each resident is treated as an equal, with the love and respect that any one of us would want and deserve.
As I read through the many articles Gail has written featuring each staff and resident, dating back to 2005, my heart warms as I can feel the love and passion in her writing. Gail takes the time to get to know and highlight every special person who has been a part of the family at Young Home. I spent hours reading about each person who has been welcomed into the home since 2005. There is something about this generation of people who have lived through things we will never know of. Most having witnessed WWII, the Great Depression, lost spouses, and having lots and lots of children. A time when love, a warm meal and a roof over their heads are what mattered most.
~Ed Duveyoung, brother of 9, married his high school sweet heart and lived a happily long life with his wife for 56 years. When he married his wife Betty, she was blind. Ed vowed to take care of her for the rest of her life.
~Walter Morton, resident who Gail just attended his funeral before our meeting and who I have known in passing over the years my grandma has been a resident, was a man with a love for travel. He and his wife traveled all over the country in their RV and also spent time volunteering, building eight builds for the Habitat for Humanity.
~Staff member Traci Gerick’s fondest memory is when a married couple lived at Young Home together. The husband did not need the services offered, but chose to move in so he could be near his wife.
It’s stories like these that give Gail and her staff satisfaction and inspiration every day. There is never a dull moment. Each resident has a unique story and perspective to share. Lifetimes of challenges, triumphs and lessons to go on for days.
It’s an amazing thing to have two generations of women having suffered the loss of their husbands and having no other choice but to find a means to still provide for their family. Young Home was able to be there for them not only financially, but spiritually. It provided a way for Josephine and Gail to continue moving forward, providing a purpose in their lives. Young Home has been there for Gail in the darkest and happiest of times. It has provided her a way to express her natural need to care and love for others. It has given her the greatest gift in life, to be able to do what she loves best, living her truth and purpose in her life.
For more information on Young Home for the Elderly please contact this email.
Watch her full story here: