Darden and Priscilla Kirby opened Twin Magnolias Assisted Living as a small, 16-bed assisted living home 26 years ago. Since then, Darden has taken a variety of roles at Twin Magnolias, most importantly among them owner and administrator. As administrator, he oversees the residents and ensures that Twin Magnolias complies with regulatory requirements. The complete staff is comprised of only ten people — some of them part-time workers — but all of them show up to love and care for the residents.
Darden, whose background was in agriculture, said he likes Twin Magnolias’ unique location. In fact, cows graze outside, around the facility, and Darden said the residents love it.
Darden said his favorite part of working at Twin Magnolias is getting to know the residents. “That’s what I enjoy the most — just getting to know the residents…[becoming] a really meaningful part of their life in a real, practical way… Not just their lives, but the lives of their families.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Twin Magnolias would host lakeside picnics for the residents. Darden said they will probably start hosting picnics again this spring. Aside from that, Darden said they host different activities with the residents. “I always go around to speak to every resident,” Darden said, “and we have a church service out here that is really meaningful.”
The church service is a special place for everyone at Twin Magnolias to form relationships, which, for senior citizens in assisted living facilities, Darden said, “is one of the most rewarding things, as opposed to folks who are living at home.” It can be hard for senior citizens to transition to life in assisted living communities, because losing independence can be intimidating
Twin Magnolias started working with Conversations to Remember when Eve Lefkowitz, the director, reached out. Darden said he believed in the program, because it helps build relationships between the older and younger generations. He said, “There are so many life lessons, stories, and values from a generation that is 80 or 90 years old that really need to get passed on to a younger generation.” Additionally, Conversations to Remember was incredibly helpful for battling the isolation that impacted senior citizens in assisted living facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Residents at Twin Magnolias have come in and out of the program, but the current resident conducting weekly calls with students is, Darden said, “really enjoying and looking forward to the visits.” Though it can be awkward for both parties at first, the calls provide the residents with a meaningful connection that battles their loneliness.