As empty nesters rambling around in a 4,000-square-foot house on 2.5 acres near DeLand, retirees Ellen and Lee Clark wondered what should come next.
Their daughter Ellen Morefield’s friend had a suggestion: Open an adult-living facility.
So, in 2014, Ellen Clark, Ellen Morefield and Morefield’s husband, Steve, all became certified nursing assistants. The State of Florida issued a license for five residents to live and be cared for in the sprawling seven-bedroom house.
The founders could not be happier with their decision.
“Life is good here,” Ellen Clark said. “It’s a very, very happy place.”
Years ago, she ran a day camp for children on the property.
“The old people are more fun, probably because I’m an old person myself,” Clark said.
The two couples strive to provide the residents of Alanson Acres the kind of life they themselves want to live.
Joseph Bondin’s native country is Malta, and English is his second language.
When he first arrived at Alanson Acres, he was very bored. Steve Morefield talked with him, and asked him what sorts of things he liked to do. When Bondin told him he enjoys plants and nature, Steve, a former welder and flooring installer, set about constructing raised garden beds. He and Bondin planted seeds, and, in no time, the seeds — and Bondin — blossomed.
Three days a week, the Votran transport van ferries Bondin to Orange City to play bingo and dominoes.
“I love it inside, and I love it out here,” Bondin said, standing by the gardens at the place he now happily calls home.
Afternoons find Ellen Clark and residents Bondin and Jim Crispi engaged in games of Bananagrams. Clark said that Bondin has learned to spell many English words with which he previously struggled, as a result of playing the game.
“It feels like home. It’s comfortable. The staff is great. Everybody gets along,” Crispi said of life on the farm. “The food’s good, too. What more could you ask for?”
Ray Matis enjoys his cat, Oscar, who keeps him company in his suite. Matis looks forward to mealtime and likes to help with the Morefields’ hobby of making and canning pickles — from cucumbers grown in Bondin’s and Steve Morefield’s garden.
“I really like it here,” Matis said. “It’s a nice home, good food. They treat us well.”
“Ray’s our best salesperson,” Steve Morefield said, laughing. “I don’t even prompt him.”
Steve is Alanson Acres’ resident listener. He learned that Alanson Acres’ first resident, Artie, who served in the military during World War II, had flown and worked on fighter planes.
“He [Artie] needed something to focus on, so Steve went to Harbor Freight [and got model plane kits]. He and Steve put them together,” Ellen Morefield said.
“We’ve had some amazing people,” Steve Morefield said. “Everyone had their own story.”
Everyone at Alanson Acres gathers in the enormous kitchen and dining area for dinner. Afterward, they watch TV game shows together.
“We’ve learned so many things from the people who’ve been through here,” Steve Morefield said. “Every one of them touches you in some way. They definitely affect you.”