By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
He has led the continuing-care community north of Lincoln Park for almost a decade, and told us, in an interview at The Kenney (WSB sponsor) this morning, that he has “mixed feelings” about leaving his “extended family” there – both the 200 residents and the staff, including his dozen-plus-member leadership team, but the move feels like “the next logistical step” for him.
One thing they’re doing at Hearthstone that is not happening right now at The Kenney: Expanding.
McFeely says his new employer is building a new campus with new apartments blocks away from its current one, while The Kenney’s redevelopment plan is on hold, after a challenging 3-year process.
The Kenney’s plan isn’t dead, McFeely stresses, just on the shelf till the economy improves – and remember, that’s a scaled-down plan, not the bigger proposal that first came to light in summer 2008.
What began as the Samuel and Jessie Kenney Presbyterian Retirement Home has advanced in other ways during McFeely’s tenure, even though the redevelopment plan was halted. We asked him about the accomplishments of which he’s most proud, and he ticked off, in no particular order, a list starting with the recently opened Memory Care Unit – “I’m very proud of that.”
On the other end of the “continuum of care,” he says, “We’re allowing people to age in place and age in place well” – no longer are there so few options that you might wind up in a “nursing home” when you have a lot of vitality left. Also to that point, he is proud of activity programming that has grown in scope and frequency, with residents sometimes even “complain(ing) there’s so much to choose from.”
The Kenney, he says, also has options for those whose finances are more limited, to live in a less-expensive part of the complex, while “receiving the same services.” And he says they have flexibility in choosing services – “you don’t have to go to every meal; some people are out all day and just want to make a cup of soup (in their apartment) at night, and be happy.”
There’ve been upgrades to apartments, he notes, to the point where you might enter a building that’s more than half a century old and never know that by what you see in the apartment.
And he’s proud to have integrated The Kenney into the community more than it had been before, including participation in the West Seattle Art Walk.
But overall, again, he says, “I am very proud of the team … they understand seniors. I’m very happy with them and sad to leave them.”
We asked him about any reflections on the process that ultimately led to the shelving of the redevelopment proposal. “It was hard,” he acknowledges. “I can appreciate all the community concern about the size and scope of it – but the comments were good; that helped us come back and put together a better project, better for us and for the community as well. We want to be a good neighbor; we want everybody to be happy. I’m sorry we didn’t get to bring it to reality, but it’s not dead … I think we can make it work (eventually) in a scaled-back version.”
McFeely and his family, including his 12-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son, had just moved to West Seattle from Bellevue a year ago. But he says they’re not leaving, even though his career is moving north. When he started telling people last week about his new job, he says, his son’s Pony Baseball coach was worried the family might be moving out of the area.
Not only does his son play – McFeely umpires. (And he has a bit of a black eye to show for it, after getting hit during a Thursday night game!)
He has other community obligations, too, with local service organizations and boards.
“I’m not going anywhere,” he said, other than changing jobs – “I’ll still be around. … I just want to thank the community; it’s been supportive of the organization, and of me.”
His final day at The Kenney is scheduled to be July 3rd, and then, after the Independence Day holiday, he starts at Hearthstone on July 5th.