Fairhaven Blog

Things of interest around Fairhaven.

Clear Choice Senior Services Recognized for Assisting Families in Finding Care for Seniors

Cynthia Adair - Monday, June 16, 2014

Linda Armas, president of Clear Choice Senior Services, is our June recipient of Fairhaven’s Oliver Halsell Care Award.

After her parents grew ill, Anaheim resident Linda Armas was faced with the challenging task of finding them a safe and comfortable environment. A mother of five, Linda is part of what is known as “the sandwich generation” – individuals who care for their aging parents while still supporting young children at home. This experience inspired her to start her own business, Clear Choice Senior Services, where she helps families place their elderly loved ones in a safe environment.

“Linda’s compassion is evident in the way she assists families she works with,” said Marla Noel, president of Fairhaven. “She represents what it means to truly care. Her attention to detail and personalized service is what makes her stand out.”

As president of Clear Choice Senior Services in Fullerton, Linda provides personalized placement services for seniors who can no longer stay at home. She offers to meet each family in person, including the elderly loved one, to learn as much as possible about their care needs, budget, personality, likes/dislikes and location preferences. Linda creates a personalized plan based on the information she collects. She then negotiates pricing, assists with state-required forms and recommends any other possible resources that might benefit them.

“When tasked with the responsibility of placing my own parents in a home, I found the process to be very difficult and time-consuming,” Linda explained. “In creating my company, I wanted to make this process easier for families to find the right environment for their loved ones.”

In addition to running her own company, Linda is chair of OC Senior Roundtable, a networking and education group of about 40 people from various companies that work with seniors. Linda also is involved with National Parkinson Foundation Orange County, California and hosts regular meetings at her office.

Linda will be honored at Fairhaven’s Oliver Halsell Care Awards banquet in November at Fairhaven’s Mission Viejo location. The banquet honors a year’s worth of achievements within the local community. Additionally, Fairhaven will make a donation in her honor to her selected charity, National Parkinson Foundation Orange County, California.

For more information and to nominate a deserving candidate, click here or send us an email.

Eternal Springs Cremation Garden Opens at Fairhaven

Cynthia Adair - Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Fairhaven Memorial Park & Mortuary announces the completion of Eternal Springs, a 3,800-square-foot cremation garden located on the north side of the memorial park. The project, which began in Sept. 2013, provides a serene and private atmosphere for families to visit their loved ones. The peaceful garden offers numerous cremation niches as well as a flowing stream, rustic bridges and beautiful landscaping.

“Keeping cherished memories close is so important to families who have lost loved ones, and we hope this new garden will help families to remember lovingly and find comfort during difficult times,” said Marla Noel, president of Fairhaven Memorial Park. “Since more individuals are choosing cremation, Eternal Springs provides our families with a peaceful place to find a lasting memorial for their loved ones.”

Set against a peaceful backdrop of mosaic tiles depicting a waterfall, the garden features:

 - 175 cremation memorial stones placed throughout the garden to create a natural look

 - A stream flowing through the entire length of the garden with three bridges

 - Beautiful, water-efficient landscaping comprised of lush trees, various shrubs and assorted flowers

 - Three park benches to offer families a place of rest, reflection and comfort

Located next to the Bella Vista Mausoleums, Eternal Springs continues an expansion process that began in 2007 with Eternal Gardens and has Fairhaven Memorial Park spanning four acres of adjacent land across Fairhaven Avenue.

For more information, visit www.fairhavenmemorial.com or call 714-633-1442.

Helping Save Young Lives

Marla Noel - Tuesday, June 03, 2014

The loss of a child is one of the most devastating experiences a parent can ever face. Feelings of anger, depression and guilt can be long-lasting – and all are normal emotions during the grieving process. Many parents feel they have a hole in their heart that will never heal, because they’ve lost a piece of themselves and their future is forever changed.

Unfortunately, each year, prom season brings up the painful issue of teens driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and the unfortunate likelihood that this can cause unnecessary – and preventable – death. Deaths that result from drunk driving happen regularly, not just during prom season. But at this time of year, we see more occurrences and we are reminded of the dangers of drunk and distracted driving, and the tragic deaths that can result from lack of focus behind the wheel.

That’s why high-risk prom season is an important time to raise awareness. Recently, Fairhaven took part in a public service program – and formed a partnership with the California Highway Patrol and Cornelia Connelly High School in Anaheim for the “Every 15 Minutes” program. The prevention and education campaign includes high school students reenacting a crashed car scene, a highly visual and shocking staged event with local law enforcement and emergency medical responders “treating” the injured as a crowd of students witnesses the dangers and consequences of driving impaired or distracted. Fairhaven assisted by transporting “fatalities” to our mortuary for identification by parents.

During the assembly that followed the mock crash scene and its aftermath, letters were shared from the “walking dead” students – emotional goodbye letters to their parents. One speaker also shared a special poem about the dangers of drinking and driving. Grief-stricken attendees watched in silence – moved by this life-changing and life-saving experience.   We can only hope the message was heard loud and clear – and that at least some tragic accidents, and deaths, were prevented.

Public service programs like this are powerful and are so important – we need to join together as a community to save lives this year, and every year. Unnecessary deaths can be prevented. At Fairhaven, we help families during their time of need. We hope public service programs, such as this one, can help prevent families from needing our services far too soon.  If you’re a parent of a teen, one way to help keep your child safe is by proactively opening a conversation about the dangers of distracted driving. Please, join us in spreading this important message. 

Local Female Business Owner Receives Fairhaven’s Oliver Halsell Care Award

Cynthia Adair - Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Kari Buist-Baker, founder and CEO of Senior Life Management, Inc., is our May recipient of Fairhaven’s Oliver Halsell Care Award.

For the Mission Viejo resident, caring for those in need has always been an innate ability. Kari’s career has come full circle; she began as an obstetrics nurse caring for fragile infants, and today coordinates the resources families need to provide care for their elderly loved ones.

“Kari’s dedication and the positive impact she makes in her clients’ lives is what sets her apart from many other care managers,” said Marla Noel, president of Fairhaven. “Her ability to provide hope and relief to seniors and their families makes her so deserving of this award.”

After her mother was diagnosed with dementia in 2003, Kari resigned from her job as an obstetrics nurse to pursue her passion of helping others find care for their senior relatives. She founded Senior Life Management in 2007, a nurse case management company that assesses and coordinates care for seniors by developing a personalized care plan based on each individual’s needs. To date, Kari has helped nearly 300 families.

“Working in this industry is incredibly touching,” Kari explained. “I truly love my career because it allows me to positively affect families in crisis, who are so emotionally attached to the situation. By providing calm insight, and giving them a road to travel together, it truly makes my job rewarding.”

Senior Life Management recently was tapped as a consultant for Age Well Senior Services, Inc., a nonprofit providing programs, services and resources to seniors in South Orange County. The new partnership provides Kari and her staff with the opportunity to assist more families than ever before.

Kari will be honored at Fairhaven’s Oliver Halsell Care Awards banquet in November at Fairhaven’s Mission Viejo location. The banquet honors a year’s worth of achievements within the local community. Additionally, Fairhaven will make a donation in her honor to her selected charity, Age Well Senior Services, Inc.

For more information and to nominate a deserving candidate, click here or send us an email.

Beyond The Casket: Why Mass-Market Planning May Not Be the Best Option

Marla Noel - Tuesday, April 29, 2014

When the time comes to say goodbye and honor a loved one, it’s never easy, especially when a death is unexpected. In such situations, families are often thrust into the harsh reality of having to make arrangements while still overwhelmed with the grief and sadness that accompany mourning the loss of a loved one.

At times, the emotional stress family members feel can be virtually unbearable, and the search for peace can be challenging. I’ve been in the funeral business for many years, and remain convinced that grief is a process people go through at various rates. It’s my belief that the grieving process is not something that can be sped up, but it can be eased, allowing the therapeutic effects of real healing to emerge with greater impact.

One way to deal with grief is to allow it to run its natural course. Family members should be fair to themselves and to one another.  They should allow for mourning. Far too often, however, I’ve seen families scurrying to make burial and other arrangements – logistical concerns that may be necessary and understandable, but don’t allow for much in the way of needed time for healing.

It may be wise to give some thought to funeral planning before the immediate need arises. Not only will you be able to address a challenging topic with great sensitivity, but you’ll do so free of the emotional turmoil that so often permeates the death of a loved one.

Clearly, planning a funeral is a complicated process – but it doesn’t have to be. Mortuaries strive to help families with the decisions and arrangements that make for a unique and meaningful remembrance. Every family’s budget and cultural traditions are different, and a trustworthy and reputable professional will make a world of difference during the grieving process. Be open with and trust your funeral director to help you make the right choice for your family, so you can focus on what’s important: reflecting and honoring the life of a loved one – as well as your own healing.

One of the many ways to honor a loved one is with an appropriate casket. I’ve noticed that some “big box” stores are suggesting the separation of a casket purchase from the rest of the funeral planning. They advertise this as some kind of cost-saver but it may actually complicate the funeral planning process. 

The casket is just one piece of a delicate puzzle and when chosen in isolation, it’s rarely a smart decision. And, contrary to the opinions of some, it’s not a more cost-effective option.

The biggest problem in buying a casket from a retail store is that the seller is not a funeral director knowledgeable about the care, preparation and burial or cremation of the deceased. He/she likely is not experienced in working with families to create the overall funeral experience. Often, retailers are not licensed by the Department of Consumer Affairs, which means less consumer protection for the purchase of these caskets.

I caution families about “ordering” funerals from a la carte menus. Each part of the process – from the casket and preparation, to the service and burial or cremation – needs to be developed together. It’s ideal when the process is pre-planned. But even families who must make decisions suddenly and quickly will do best by viewing the process holistically, not individual components to piece together.

In the end, saying goodbye is never easy. A meaningful service can help bring closure and comfort to a grieving family. Seek a warm and caring funeral director to help you create a perfect service. He or she understands the complexities of the funeral-planning process, which, when done correctly, can allow family and friends to celebrate and honor a loved one’s life.

Pratibha Seth Honored with Fairhaven’s Oliver Halsell Care Award for Compassionate Care

Cynthia Adair - Monday, April 14, 2014

Pratibha Seth, a nurse on the orthopedic floor at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, is our April recipient of Fairhaven’s Oliver Halsell Care Award.

Working the night shift at St. Joseph Hospital, Pratibha can be found carefully checking on her patients, ensuring they’re receiving the care they need. After 15 years as a nurse, Pratibha draws inspiration from her experiences, which is apparent in the conscientious care she gives each patient.

“As the nighttime nurse, Pratibha approaches her responsibilities with the utmost compassion and concern,” said Marla Noel, President of Fairhaven. “She is a blessing and an angel of mercy to anyone suffering and in need of a gentle soul.”

Nearly 20 years ago, Pratibha journeyed to the United States from India to be with her husband, leaving her parents and her familiar surroundings behind. While still in India, her father, a heart patient, had received compassionate care and inspired Pratibha’s own career path. Pratibha enrolled at Santa Ana College to pursue a career as a nurse. Soon after, tragedy struck Pratibha’s family -- her mother died suddenly from a heart attack, giving her even more motivation to pursue her career goal. She wanted to provide her patients with the care she was unable to give her mother.

As a nurse, Pratibha is required to care for the general well-being of patients, but she often goes above and beyond her duties. If a patient seems emotionally distraught, Pratibha takes the time to sit and talk until he or she feels better. A mother of two daughters – including the eldest daughter who is following in her footsteps as a nurse -- the Anaheim resident says she treats each patient the way she would her own family.

“I never would have expected to be honored for doing my job,” commented Pratibha. “I try to give my patients whatever I have – my emotions and my best care.”

Pratibha will be honored at Fairhaven’s Oliver Halsell Care Awards banquet in November at Fairhaven’s Mission Viejo location. The banquet honors a year’s worth of achievements among the local community. Additionally, Fairhaven will make a donation in her honor to her selected charity, the Boys Town organization.

For more information and to nominate a deserving candidate, click here or send us an email.

Ginger Thomas Honored with Fairhaven's Oliver Halsell Care Award

Cynthia Adair - Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Ginger Thomas, Senior Living Advisor at A Plan For Senior Care, is our March recipient of Fairhaven’s Oliver Halsell Care Award.

When her grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Ginger worked with her family to place her grandmother in a home. Throughout that emotionally difficult process, Ginger discovered her passion for working with seniors. Now, she helps families daily find personalized care for their loved ones.

“Ginger’s passion for senior care is evident in the work she does,” said Marla Noel, President of Fairhaven. “She cares about her community and is utilizing both her personal and professional experience to be an invaluable resource to those in need.”

Her career choice was motivated by her mother, El Joan Shealor, who worked as an RN for many years, and became convinced that while most nurses can be good at their jobs, those who truly are great are innately compassionate.  Feeling her daughter was born with significant empathy, El Joan encouraged Ginger early in life to consider a career in the care industry.

“It means so much to be recognized for something I love to do,” explained Ginger. “When I was referred to the senior care industry, I was drawn to the seniors and their stories; I don’t want them to be forgotten or misplaced.”

As a Senior Living Advisor, Ginger works directly with families as a resource in finding the right care for their loved ones. After interviewing a new family, Ginger considers the patient’s finances, current living situation and medical needs in order to provide a complete care plan. In matching seniors with care facilities, her main focus is ensuring each patient’s individual needs, as well as those of his or her family, will be personally addressed. This gives her ample opportunities to place more seniors in the compassionate hands of those who will provide them with the care they genuinely need and deserve.

Ginger will be honored at Fairhaven’s Oliver Halsell Care Awards banquet in November at Fairhaven’s Mission Viejo location. The banquet honors a year’s worth of achievements among the local community. Additionally, Fairhaven will make a donation to the American Heart Association in Ginger’s honor.

For more information and to nominate a deserving candidate, click here or send us an email.

Fairhaven President Marla Noel Honored at Age Well Senior Services’ Captain’s Ball Gala

Cynthia Adair - Thursday, March 13, 2014

Fairhaven Memorial Park & Mortuary is proud to announce that company president Marla Noel has been honored by Age Well Senior Services. The honor, recognizing Marla’s many contributions to the senior-care nonprofit through her work at Fairhaven and with the O. L. Halsell Foundation, was bestowed at the organization’s 14th annual Captain’s Ball fundraising gala on Saturday, March 1, at the Ritz-Carlton in Laguna Niguel.

Marla accepted her award from Doug Zielasko, president of Age Well; Dr. Marilyn Ditty, CEO of Age Well; and Dr. Bart Asner of Monarch Healthcare, who sponsored the event. The night’s other awards went to Edwards Lifesciences and to Steve Geidt, CEO of Saddleback Hospital.

“It is wonderful to be recognized by Age Well alongside such an esteemed group of honorees, all working toward improving the quality of life for Orange County seniors,” said Marla. “Through a multitude of services that provide hope and wellbeing for seniors and their families, Age Well is a nonprofit I am proud to support.”

An experienced CPA with an MBA from Chapman University, Marla joined the Fairhaven family 19 years ago, and her continuing involvement in community organizations has grown and enhanced Fairhaven’s longstanding reputation. Along with her involvement with Age Well, Marla serves as the vice president of the board of the Boys and Girls Club of Santa Ana, acts as the treasurer of the board of Alzheimer’s Association, Orange County and is a member of Woman Sage and the Irvine Rotary Club. She also established the youth-oriented Mortuary Explorer’s Club for young people interested in the industry.

Micki Souter Honored with Fairhaven's Oliver Halsell Care Award

Cynthia Adair - Monday, February 24, 2014

Micki Souter, volunteer at Silverado Hospice in Anaheim, is our February recipient of Fairhaven’s Oliver Halsell Care Award.

After hospice workers provided the comfort and care she needed in her husband’s final hours, Micki discovered the perfect outlet for channeling her inherent love and compassion. As a devoted volunteer at Silverado Hospice, Micki’s genuinely warm heart has touched the lives of everyone she encounters—patients, families and coworkers alike.

“Micki’s cheerful optimism is a much-needed ray of sunshine in the lives of patients and families,” said Marla Noel, president of Fairhaven. “Her joyful presence is often all it takes to reduce the emotional stress taking a toll on their daily lives.”

For the past three years, Micki has gone above and beyond in her volunteering at Silverado. Although she assists patients wherever she’s needed, Micki focuses her attention on one patient at a time, allowing her to develop relationships with patients and their families on a deeply personal level. She prefers working with Silverado patients receiving at-home care, because she believes the familiar environment is more relaxing for everyone involved.

“Micki is a volunteer extraordinaire. She goes above and beyond the responsibilities and requests of a hospice volunteer,” explained Julie Bynon, volunteer coordinator at Silverado. “She is kind, gentle and comforting to our patients and their families.”

For many hours a day—sometimes as many as nine hours at a time—Micki is at the patient’s side, feeding, conversing, and caring for his or her needs. It’s all part of her personal belief that no matter their condition or illness, patients must always be respected as people. When a patient passes, Micki stays in touch with the family, visiting them, bringing them food, and providing continued comfort.

“I’m just grateful to be the caregiver, not the person receiving it,” said Micki. “To me, caring is all about being there, being honest, holding hands and really listening. And laughter is very important: we have to focus on how lucky and blessed we are. I’m just honored to do it, and the patients and families appreciate it. It feels nice to know other people appreciate it, too.”

It’s no surprise that Micki fills every ounce of her life with love. She enjoys spending time with her family—especially her five grandchildren— and best friends and her boxer dog, and goes out of her way to support everyone, from attending school plays to providing company during chemo treatments.

Micki will be honored at Fairhaven’s Oliver Halsell Care Awards banquet in November. The banquet honors a year’s worth of achievements among the local caregiving community.

For more information and to nominate a deserving candidate, click here or send us an email.

David Nakashima Honored as the January Recipient of Fairhaven's Oliver Halsell Care Award for Selfless Work with OC Hospice

Cynthia Adair - Thursday, January 30, 2014

David Nakashima, OC Hospice volunteer, is our January recipient of Fairhaven’s Oliver Halsell Care Award.

When David finally found the time to pursue his desire to volunteer with hospice patients, he discovered a surprisingly fulfilling new outreach. His presence at OC Hospice in Tustin has brought a great deal of comfort not only to the patients and their families but also to David himself.

“Hospice caregivers are oftentimes overwhelmed and in desperate need of help with providing care and instilling positivity and peace in those struggling,” said Marla Noel, president of Fairhaven. “David’s dedication to OC Hospice’s patients and their families during such harrowing times is a blessing.”

As a volunteer at OC Hospice, David visits patients during his free time. Occasionally he sits with them, talking and listening, reading aloud, assisting with needs, playing games, reading bible verses—anything to make their lives more enjoyable. David goes above and beyond what is expected from a volunteer, including engaging with patients who do not have an assigned volunteer and following up with support to family members after a loved one has passed. In addition, he accepted the role of project manager for the 2013 Adopt A Senior Holiday Angel program.

“I simply want the people who I encounter to know that someone cares about them,” said David. “I want their families to know that there is someone else out there who is willing to help watch over their loved ones. I cannot help every ailing patient, but I know that I can help some of them.”

David also works full-time at The Walt Disney Company in Anaheim, where he is involved with the corporate VoluntEAR program. Through this program, he has participated in various local charity events such as the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Light The Night Walk. In addition to his passion for spending time with patients and families, David enjoys traveling and following college sports.

“It motivates me each morning to know that I may make a difference in someone’s life or make them smile and laugh,” David expressed. “I am very appreciative to have been given an award for something that I love to do.”

David will be honored at Fairhaven’s Oliver Halsell Care Awards banquet in November. The banquet honors a year’s worth of achievements among the local caregiving community.

For more information and to nominate a deserving candidate, click here or send us an email.


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