When Woodbine Senior Living took over Spring Village at Galloway, then known as Sunrise Senior Living, on Oct. 1, it took on a fixer-upper.

The facility, which has 122 beds split between assisted living and memory care buildings, had an experienceed, dedicated staff, but its 78 percent occupancy left something to be desired.

Eight months and $250,000 worth of renovations later, the new management group's emphasis on personal care has improved the facility's occupancy to near maximum.

On June 11, Spring Village celebrated its successful rebadge and renovation with a ribbon-cutting ceremony outside the facility. Donna LaRotonda, who stayed on as director of community relations through the transition, said the company has changed drastically for the better since Woodbine took over.

"We're really thriving right now," LaRotonda said. "We're a leader in the community right now for assisted living, memory care especially."

A few dozen staff, residents and community members attended the June 11 ceremony, which started with a brief introduction by LaRotonda, after which the Smithville Elementary School band played the national anthem. Following this performance, Steve Gaylor, co-founder and managing partner of Woodbine Senior Living, gave a brief speech.

Absecon schools Superintendent Jim Giaquinto and Galloway Township resident Ann Agbar, who both became acquainted with the facility through relatives who previously lived there, also shared brief statements.

Agbar's mother, Mary, lived at Spring Village for eight years until her death in December, and in that time Agbar visited her many times, becoming fond of the facility. While she no longer has any family at Spring Village, Agbar still brings her 3-year-old golden retriever, Baxter, to visit residents once per week.

As a senior living community, Agbar said, Spring Village is unparalelled.

"I'm always speaking about this place, because, like I said, it's a wonderful place," said Agbar. "My mother was extremely happy here."

CNL Financial Group, which owns the facility at Spring Village, said it switched to Woodbine Senior Living when it decided Sunrise, an international company, could not provide the personal touch it wanted for the campus. Woodbine, which operates just a handful of facilities in the northeast, was a fit.

Since Woodbine took over, it has increased emphasis on activities and trips for residents, and financed a broad interior decoration overhaul. And while much has changed, Gaylor said, he kept the facility's best resource - its staff - mostly intact.

"The key is the leadership team here," Gaylor said. "We've got executive director (Punam Patel), then eight department heads that report to her. Whenever I come into a new operation the key is always the staff, and if I can put the right people in the right place and encourage them to do what they do best, I always have this kind of success."

Galloway Township Mayor Don Purdy also attended the ceremony, and cut the ribbon.

At the reception, Purdy struck up a conversation with Gaylor, and the pair hit it off. A veteran of many ribbon cuttings, Purdy said he believes the strong turnout at Spring Village's is indicative of its positive impact on the community.

"I think the turnout here shows it, all in one shot," Purdy said. "I've done a lot of ribbon cuttings, but to see a turnout like you had here, that says it all."

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