The Elms Blog
People Around Us in The Elms
Celebrating 35 Years of Luxury Living for Seniors
By Alexander “Bud” Gavitt
(Author’s Note: Ever since March 17 of this year Elms founder and owner Guy Maiorano and his staff have complied with strict regulations issued by Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo and the State Department of Health regarding the coronavirus pandemic. No residents in The Elms three buildings have been infected with the virus. Starting June 15 the state is slowly reopening former Elms’ programs and activities as described in my article here.)
When Guy Maiorano was growing up in a close-knit Italian family in Providence, Rhode Island, he liked to listen to his grandparents talk about knowing and understanding their needs as seniors. This soon led him to learn more on how to take care of older people and their families.
Before pursuing this interest as a lifetime career, Guy graduated from Cranston, Rhode Island, High School in the 1975 class and then enrolled in the School of Business at the University of Rhode Island. He left college at the end of his freshman year and decided to gain business experience when he owned and operated a tire store for several years.
During this time he often admired a beautiful Victorian mansion on 22 Elm Street in historic downtown Westerly, Rhode Island. He soon yearned to buy this home and convert it to an independent and assisted living retirement residence. To achieve this goal he made an offer to buy this home owned by the Paladino family that housed several families and a doctor’s office. The owner quickly rejected his bid, but Guy persisted until they relented and sold it to him in 1985.
Right after acquiring this home, Guy started to convert it to one and two room luxury suites. He continued this building over the years until he had 74 apartments built in the West and East wings. Plus the apartments were intended to house residents 65 years and older. Presently, the average age of current residents is 85 years.
Later on Guy oversaw the building of the Chestnut Cottage and the Carriage House which can house as many as 46 of the memory impaired who receive around the clock care.
Gerontologists report that a little over 50 percent of people turning 65 require some form of long term care. People find that The Elms offers its residents many health and financial benefits.
“Ever since the beginning, Elms owner Guy Maiorano never wavered to provide older people a retirement living arrangement that would give them security, dignity, luxury living, three daily gourmet meals, needed personal assistance for daily care, lots of fun, plenty of activities, singers, movies, and bingo. Arts and crafts and aerobics are led by Activity Director Tina Murphy, now in her 6th year. Bob Lavalley is a popular singer and also conducts strength training,” says Mark Taylor, Administrator of The Elms campus. “Van drivers Lou Buonocore and Tim Rhodes take residents to doctors’ offices, shopping to stores and banks, scenic bus rides, grocery stores including McQuades, the Post Office, and pharmacies. All of these services are included in the monthly rent.”
Explains Mark: “Each suite has individually controlled heat and air conditioning plus a small refrigerator with a freezer compartment, an on-site beauty salon, libraries on the second and third floors in the East Wing where residents can select from hundreds of fiction and non-fiction books to read and return at their leisure.”
“Also, residents receive weekly housekeeping and laundry service, emergency response in all suites, a med room managed by newly hired RN Leslie Murphy, daughter of Elms residents Austin and Patricia Murphy, overseeing staff giving daily medications as prescribed by doctors to residents upon their request and answer health questions and needs.”
Karen Hawthorn, who holds a bachelor degree in social work from West Virginia University, is starting her second year where she oversees activities, housekeeping, the overnight monitors and transportation. Karen previously worked six years at The Elms.
Leslie Taylor, Mark’s wife, has been office manager for the past thirty years. Their teenage son Sam works part time as a waiter and assists in kitchen duties at The Elms.
Julie Schaub, Director of Residency, has been in charge of renting rooms for almost 5 years.
Renowned Head Chef Michael Lipowski since 2011 and his three cooks prepare 99 meals three times each day totaling 297 daily for residents in the 3 buildings. He plans the menu for each week and buys most of the vegetables, bread, eggs, and meat, from high quality companies and nearby farms and fish from Seawell in Stonington Borough.
Dining Room Manager Betty Walker for the past 13 years consults with Chef Mike daily and orders certain foods, paper products, and ice cream. She is also in charge of seating arrangements for residents and their guests.
Guy continues to make improvements at The Elms. Most recently the owner refurbished the dining room where he had installed new comfortable chairs, a carpet, several large paintings, and a large see through glass mirror between the upscale dining room and the Pub, and a new clock. Part of the remodeling work was done by The Elms three maintenance men headed by Roger Garrison. Also purchased are new plain white dinner plates and white coffee mugs which were first used on July 30, 2020.
Now in the planning stage is a project to make the mail room and back entrance more attractive.
Clearly, Elms residents are able to maintain their independence but still depend on paying for some things. Their adult children who are raising their own families and working no longer have to worry about preparing meals, cleaning, and taking parents to doctors and managing their prescriptions. “We do all that for them,” says Maiorano. “In short, we’re the Hilton … with a little health.”
Guy proudly states, “We not only help just our seniors but also their families from which they came. We work as a team, and always strive to get better at what we do. We have 110 employees – nearly a 1 to 1 ratio for our residents.”
As the sole private owner and operator, he continues, “I insist that our attention is devoted to the people we serve which creates a very high level of trust and satisfaction. That’s what makes us different and what makes our residents enjoy life here.”
Guy Maiorano derives much satisfaction in taking care of the largest family in town. “I’m fortunate to be able to care for many seniors who count on me as well as my staff to give them a wonderful experience in their lifetime.”
Congratulations Guy Maiorano and your employees on reaching this well deserved milestone!
The author was a multi-award winning agricultural writer, editor and communications instructor for nearly thirty-one years at the University of Connecticut’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and held a similar position for four years before that at the University of Rhode Island. Now 86, he has been an Elm’s resident since May 28, 2018.
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