16 Nov 5?S… with Amy Mclellan. The McLellan’s owner strives to ‘do senior living differently’
5?S… with Amy Mclellan
1. First of all Amy, please tell us a little about yourself, such as where you grew up, your schooling background, your career and what you enjoy doing in your spare time.
I am a Maine girl through and through. Like all of us in the middle of February, I threaten to leave the state and move south, but then magically April comes and I change my mind.
Maine lives in my heart. Born in Camden, I had an idyllic childhood, with parents who made parenting and life look easy. My father wasa doctor and a Bowdoin graduate; my mother a nurse, who along with many other hats she wore, she was the life and vitality of our home.Both of them taught me that no matter how life goes, let your handshake mean something, let it be your word and your first impression.I attended Camden-Rockport High School, grew up skiing at the Camden Snow Bowl, sailing and lobstering in Camden Harbor, swimming in Lake Megunticook and all the other moments of growing up in a small town with good folks.I attended Bowdoin College, hoping to pursue in my father’s footsteps of medicine, but found myself intrigued with biotechnology and genetic research, working at the National Cancer Institute during the AIDS early crisis with (the) Sam Broder, M.D. team that founded AZT protocols, Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York, working with double helix proteins and other small research labs.Every holiday, my mother would remind me over and over that I needed a “real” career, not one in a lab in the ground. She repeated so often that I needed to be a nurse, that finally I took her up on it in order to stop hearing it every Thanksgiving and — though I hate to say it — she was right. I attended USM’s nursing program and from the first day I said, “Good morning, my name is Amy, I am going to be your nurse today,” I have never looked back.Being a nurse is the greatest privilege of my life. My nursing career has come full circle with The McLellan. I have been an oncology nurse specialist, started a Hospice unit, worked in community health, been director of a small nursing home, been a school nurse (one of my favorite fields of nursing), and for the last 15 years worked in emergency and critical care nursing, mostly in cardiac surgical intensive and progressive care.
And now with God’s grace, I can come full circle, back to a town that educated me to have big thoughts and big dreams, back to a place where one’s handshake still matters, back to neighbors who smile and stop and say hi and call you up to come over for apple pie and who want to be a part of something wonderful … something wonderful like The McLellan. Where we can’t save the world, but we can make it right for 18 people.
2. How did the idea of The McLellan come about?
The McLellan had its seeds in small things whispered to me as a young child. I grew up one of five children. My brothers and sisters are all successful in different ways and our personalities all different and full of passion.
Holidays, even today, are not places to relax with us, but times to re-engage with political discussions, passions, creativity, what if ’s and how come’s. For those visiting with us on these occasions, it can be exhausting. That energy is all I know.
My father was a bit more quiet and humble. He didn’t speak much, but when he did it was always worth listening to. My mother … well her name was Irene and we nicknamed her “Sirene.” I think that says it all.
I use to sit next to my father every Sunday dinner, to his left. Each Sunday he would whisper something in my ear, as the family chaos was happening at the other end of the table. He said different things from time to time, like “I love you” and “You’re beautiful,” but mostly, he said one thing over and over. Whispering in my right ear he would say, “Amy, to whom much is given, much is expected.” The McLellan is my “much is expected” gift back to the world.
People think I named a building after me. I could never be that special. It is named after my father.
3. Talk about the senior living situation in the Midcoast region. What sets you apartfrom other establishments and what is your mission?
The McLellan’s mission — to say it simply, is to “do senior living differently.”
As a critical care nurse, I see much of our age population of patients are over 65. Anyone that has had me for a nurse over the years will tell you, nursing is not what I do. It is who I am. I am a nurse from the inside out.
As such, I followed closely the patients as they left the acute care setting, watching over them in skilled rehab situations, helping to make decisions on “assisted living environments.”
I have seen many things over the years. Some of the time the care of those of us over 65 has been done very well; sadly, most of the time, not so much. In the name of “safety,” our medical/health/living communities have put “living” in second place.
I always say, you can keep a dog “safe” in a “kennel,” but that doesn’t mean he will thrive. Just because he is safe doesn’t make it a life worth living.
I visited more than 45 senior living facilities in Maine and New Hampshire over the last year. All of them were clean and for the most part everyone seemed safe. Some of them had swimming pools and all kinds of things that you would find in a town, like an ice cream parlor, a beauty parlor, a small store, a chapel, activity rooms, similar to what you might find at a camp for arts and crafts. There were grand, large common rooms, essentially always empty. There were pianos, sometimes music coming out of it. But when you got up close, you saw that a person wasn’t playing it. There were dining rooms, fancy ones, where folks lined up for meals, almost like clockwork. Their apartment doors would open, there were large white vans for transporting to events and appointments, there were gardens, sometimes with folks in them. And all of these facilities were full, or almost full, and all of them were on the periphery of the town — away from life.
I asked myself, “If Mom and Dad were still alive would I want them to spend the most valuable times of their lives on the periphery of a town?”
When one is privileged to be 60, 70, 80, 90, 100 years young, there is so much living in front of them. They have reached the point in life where they finally get it. Finally understand honesty, loyalty, freedom, love, forgiveness, wisdom, family, friendship, integrity, character. Why does our society take all of that incredibleness and put it on the periphery of our towns.
The McLellan is about a choice, an alternative to senior living, a chance to “Live better.” The McLellan is about living as we always did, in a neighborhood, connected to a village, nestled amongst the sights and sounds of living, church bells every morning, the train whistle, children riding their bikes to school, folks walking downtown for dinner, smells from the Union Street Bakery down the street, chatter across the street at People Plus. It is about seeing birds land on your flower box and in the tree outside your window. It is about remaining engaged in and surrounded by life with opportunities for each moment of every day. Moments filled with color, passion, purpose and people of all ages.
Inside The McLellan will be a home — 18 homes. You won’t see a lot of signs or name tags. You will see screen doors on every front door, front door lights and knockers. You will see boutique common living areas open to everyone, including the big kitchen. These areas don’t need to be named; it’s obvious, you will see the places of your home, a living room, a den, a breakfast nook, a tavern, a dining room and more.
4. What makes Brunswick such a special place to live?
Gosh, I think I answered that above in many ways.
Brunswick is the best of both worlds. Choices that every city offers with the heart and soul of a small town. Neighbors who actually talk to you. Small business owners who want to collaborate and make neighborhoods stronger. The largest Main Street sidewalks in Maine, filled with eclectic shops, cafes and restaurants. Art galleries and an artist haven of talent on almost every corner, that adds depth of thinking and understanding.
Bowdoin College a five-minute stroll away from The McLellan, with beautiful grounds to walk through, museums to visit, classes to engage in. Churches — you know a town is special by the number of churches it has — God’s presence is felt here in the many religions Brunswick embraces. The brand-new library, a short two-minute walk from The McLellan, filled with technology and literature.
Brunswick has it all. I am so blessed to be able to give to Brunswick The McLellan and its mission for all of us to “Live better.”
5. For those interested in obtaining more information about The McLellan, how do theycontact you?
Oh, I love a phone call. Call me, stop over spontaneously, say hi and let me show you my vision and passion of how The McLellan is coming to life. Call me at (207) 671- 9033. Our website is themclellan.com. And you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And of course, just walk across the street, we’re at 26 Cumberland St. and the door is always open. I look forward to our first hello of a million.
• Amy McLellan’s telephone number — (207) 671-9033
• Website — themclellan.com
• Email — email@example.com
• Location — 26 Cumberland St., Brunswick