Summerford Nursing Home readies for 40th anniversary celebration
Tracy B. Cieniewicz, Hartselle Enquirer
Robert A. Summerford II was barely six years old when his parents, Robert O. "Bobby" and Beverly Summerford, held the first open house event at Summerford Nursing Home in Falkville 40 years ago.
It was March 28, 1965, and Robert vividly remembers the large crowd of family, friends and neighbors who filled the halls of the nursing home, as well as a soft drink fountain and television brought in specially for the event.
"I would grab some food and a fountain drink and head to room 12 to watch TV and slip away from the adults for a while," Robert recalled. "It was a great day."
Summerford Nursing Home took its first resident the very next day and quickly began to fill all 50 beds the new facility offered.
Six expansions and 166 additional beds later, Summerford Nursing Home will hold another monumental open house event to celebrate its 40th anniversary.
The open house and tea will be held Sunday, March 27, 1-4 p.m., in the employee dining room.
Family, friends, neighbors, former residents' families and employees are welcome and encouraged to enjoy many refreshments, including homemade desserts, and the monthly songbook singing.
According to Robert, the songbook singing, held on the fourth Sunday of each month, is a longstanding tradition at Summerford Nursing Home which draws crowds from near and far.
"We call it the 'Big Sunday Singing,'" Robert explained. "Raymond Vest, who lives out near Oden Ridge, leads it and people from all over come to sing. Some have even driven 200 miles to get here. In 35 years, we've only missed two fourth Sunday singings, and those were due to flu season."
Visitors to the open house are also invited to enjoy the grounds of Summerford Nursing Home. Take a walk through Beverly Gardens, named for Robert's late mother, explore the facility's three greenhouses filled with plants and vegetables, or visit the petting zoo's ducks, geese, white-tail deer, llama, emu and other friendly pets.
"Our residents and visitors are always welcome to see any of the grounds," Robert said. "We've never had visiting hours and we encourage residents' families and friends to come anytime."
During growing seasons, the community is also welcome to stop by and see the variety of plants and vegetables Summerford Nursing Home has for sale.
"We grow watermelon, sweet corn, cabbage, tomatoes and peppers and use all of them in the meals we cook and serve to the residents and employees," Robert said. "Whatever's left over, we sell and use the proceeds for activities for the residents. We also have bedding plants, roses and house plants for sale."
The grounds of Summerford Nursing Home is just one feature that makes the facility unique. Another is the specialized care each resident is offered through services like an in-house pharmacy, physical therapy, X-ray, an on-site lab, 220 employees, and the personal touch of the Summerford family.
Bobby, the elder Summerford who saw a need for such a facility 40 years ago, still works at Summerford Nursing Home alongside his son, Robert, and daughter-in-law, Dana.
"Daddy has always stressed resident care," Robert explained. "We're always here because we enjoy being with people and we love to get to know the residents and their families. The residents are friends of ours and we're always available to them."
The facility may see a third generation of Summerfords someday. Robert and Dana's son Alan is majoring in business at Auburn University, son Ryan is majoring in business at The University at Alabama, and son Ross is majoring in medicine at UA.
"The boys work here during the summers and have grown up coming here just like I did," Robert explained. "When you see a child come here to have lunch with a resident, you should see how everyone's face lights up. Imagine a child growing up with so many grandparents. It was a great experience."
The Summerford family has taken care of neighbors, friends and even their own family members at Summerford Nursing Home for four decades and plan to offer the same quality care for many years to come.
"There's no place like home," Robert said, "but we try to come very close."