Late consumer's mother donates funds to remodel group home kitchen
April 07, 2014
The residents and staff of the Brookhaven group home in SERV Center's Southern Region recently celebrated their newly renovated kitchen with a pizza party and a special dedication to Barbara Brunner, a former resident whose mother donated funds for the remodeling project.
Last August, Mae Brunner of Madison, N.J., contacted SERV and offered generous funding for a renovation project at Brookhaven, where her daughter, Barbara, lived in 2004 and 2005 before she passed away. Because Barbara loved to cook, Mrs. Brunner thought it fitting to have the work done in the kitchen of this home, which was built in 1960. SERV has owned the home in Mercer County for 20 years and, over the years, installed new appliances and other upgrades in the house as funding permitted, but the kitchen still had bright blue Formica countertops and outdated flooring and cabinets.
With Mrs. Brunner's donation, contractors began working on the kitchen in early September and stayed on the project until completion. The dedication of the kitchen was to have taken place soon afterward, but snow storms and other unforeseen issues delayed the celebration.
On the evening of the dedication on March 25, Mrs. Brunner recalled the many times she and her son Donald visited Barbara at Brookhaven. Then, she would bring her daughter and the other female residents sweet treats and other goodies. On this night, Mrs. Brunner did not forget the seven current residents of the home. She and Donald arrived bearing boxes filled with hand towels and pot holders to match the new décor, a homemade valance for the kitchen window, a new set of bath towels for each of the ladies, and toiletries.
When Mrs. Brunner walked into the kitchen for the first time, she had a look of shock on her face. She marveled at the rich dark-wood cabinets, the Corian countertop with shades of browns, the ADA-compliant appliances including a raised dishwasher to avoid bending, the lowered double stainless steel sink that makes access easier for someone in a wheelchair, and the new floor tiles and ceiling with recessed lighting.
When SERV Counselors Rachel Mathis and Andrea Headley-Hall told Mrs. Brunner how much they and the consumers enjoy the new kitchen, she responded, "Oh, you can't enjoy it nearly as much as I enjoy seeing it!"
Among the guests at the dedication ceremony were Gary van Nostrand, President and CEO of SERV; Allan Boyer, Chief Operating Officer of SERV Centers of N.J.; and Betty Birch, Director SERV Centers-Southern Region. On behalf of SERV, Mr. Boyer extended his gratitude to Mrs. Brunner for her generosity and presented a plaque that now hangs above the doorway. It reads: "In Memory of Barbara Brunner."
After the dedication, five of the seven residents of Brookhaven (Doreen, Nancy, Joyce, Sharon and Shanya) and their guests gathered around the dining room table to enjoy pizza and conversation. The residents expressed their thanks to Mrs. Brunner for her generosity and, in appreciation, offered her and Donald desserts of cake and brownies baked by the women and staff members for the festivities.
Mrs. Brunner smiled as she reminisced about Barbara and the home her daughter found at SERV. She recalled Barbara's compassion for some of her housemates who had no family members to visit them at Brookhaven and how Barbara was very pleased that her mother had brought gifts for these ladies, as well.
"I am fortunate that I am able to do it," Mrs. Brunner said of her contributions then and now. "It's nice to be able to give back, and to see the finished product, as well."