The great Christian writer C.S. Lewis once said, “You are never too old to set a new goal or dream a new dream.” It seems that, in this quote, Mr. Lewis was speaking specifically of Mt. Carmel Community and its Executive Director and Managing Partner, Saline County resident Jimmy Elrod.
“About 15 years ago, I wasn’t sleeping well and got up in the middle of the night. I started writing page after page of notes as I envisioned what I would like to do with the rest of my life. A recurring theme was ‘working with senior adults’.”
Through caring for his own parents and working with other senior adults, Jimmy realized that he dreamt of building not only an outstanding assisted living facility, but also an actual community. “Early in my career, I was a school teacher and administrator. I took a leave of absence to help my church develop a Family Life Center and to work in church administration, and I never went back.”
“My favorite aspect of that experience was working in the senior adult ministry. It wasn’t in my ‘job description’, but it was a very rewarding experience. I was also in a position to be a caregiver for my own parents the last years of their lives. That was a very challenging time, but I was so thankful to be able to be there for them.”
“After my dad passed away, my mother moved into a nearby senior living facility Over all, her time spent in assisted living was a good experience, but it also served as a valuable teaching tool for me, opening my eyes to some things that I would do differently if I had the opportunity to work with senior adults.”
Developing a senior living community proved to be a huge undertaking, but with the help and support of a dedicated team, including Mt. Carmel’s Managing Partner and Administrator Randy Jones and his father David, Mt. Carmel Community is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.
“I will forever be indebted to my lifelong friend, Randy Jones and his dad, David Jones; for their friendship and financial support. The amount of faith, confidence, and encouragement they have provided has been incredible,” says Jimmy.
Mt. Carmel’s owners originally purchased the piece of property along I-30 between Alcoa and Mt. Carmel Roads, which is the current location of the Alcoa Exchange shopping center. The name for Mt. Carmel Community was taken partly from this original location and partly from the fact that Mt. Carmel was the Biblical location where God answered Elijah’s prayer in a big way and performed a great miracle. Jimmy added, “We knew that if Mt. Carmel was going to become a reality, we needed God to be at the center of all our plans.”
In ten short years, Mt. Carmel has grown from a single-building assisted living facility to a senior living community, including independent garden homes and a freestanding memory care facility at the original Benton location. The next growth spurt occurred when the team built a second community with three levels of care in Hot Springs Village.
Mt. Carmel was also given the opportunity to offer seniors quality care through expansion into northwest Arkansas, but through God’s direction and provision, those communities were sold, allowing the focus to stay entirely on the central Arkansas communities. “We have learned ‘more is not always better’. Our present goal is to make Mt. Carmel Community in Benton and Hot Springs Village the very best they can be,” explains Jimmy.
Mt. Carmel has 113 units in both Benton and Hot Springs Village, with a good mix of assisted living, memory care, and independent garden homes. The ‘assisted living’ level of care at Mt. Carmel is appropriately named in that it offers residents the opportunity to be as independent as they can, while receiving the assistance they need.
Meals, housekeeping, and transportation are provided in all levels of care, while in assisted living residents also receive 24/7 nursing care with medication management, help with bathing, dressing, transferring, and other activities of daily living. Memory Care takes those services to a different level with additional care, a lower resident-to-staff ratio and increased supervision in a secured environment.
Living in an independent garden home is an option that offers a private residence to independent seniors who want to take advantage of meal plans, housekeeping, and lawn services. Mt. Carmel’s garden homes are located within their gated community and offer the benefit of having an emergency call system and care staff available around the clock.
Everyone has a dream. For Jimmy it was to follow the Lord’s call to love and care for senior adults, and for some, it’s to live in and be a part of a fun and vibrant community with 5-star accommodations and a dedicated, compassionate team of caregivers. That’s exactly what Mt. Carmel offers.
“We have beautiful facilities, state of the art technology, and great locations, but I would be remiss if I didn’t share that a loving, caring, and compassionate staff is the key to any senior living community. Mt. Carmel Community is blessed to have just that! We have a strong orientation and training program, called ‘Mt. Carmel Inspired,’ that communicates, educates, and ‘inspires’ our staff to be a positive influence in the lives of our residents,” explains Jimmy. “It’s hard to believe, but we almost have as many employees as we do residents.”
In keeping with what God has called them to do, Mt. Carmel continually strives to promote and maintain a Christian environment with a mission ‘to minister to seniors with a loving, caring devotion’ and a goal of providing for the physical, emotional, mental, social and spiritual well-being in the lives of Mt. Carmel Community family members.
In Mt. Carmel, residents have not only found the life they envisioned for themselves, but Jimmy’s dream has become reality.
“As we celebrated our 10-year anniversary on September 8 with our friends and families and again with our community leaders on September 13, we were able to reminisce about all the wonderful people we have met and served, and cast our vision for the next ten years,” Jimmy recalled.
“It’s an exciting time to be a part of our Mt. Carmel family. Without being melodramatic, I feel like I am one of the most blessed people in the world to see a dream come true, have the privilege of serving senior adults, and be able to love and enjoy what I do. I’ve always been thankful for my immediate family and church family, but for the past ten years, I’ve been able to include my Mt. Carmel family as well. So, I am a big believer in that it pays to dream, have a vision and set goals.”