After 72 years of farming and marriage, Ervin and Beryl Beerenstrauch figured it was time to get a little help with their daily lives.

After a medical episode at his neighborhood supermarket, former college coach Al Papik reached a point in his life where caring for himself and a constant diet of eating out became ill-advised.

And, after a medical setback became a life-changing experience for Karen Kirk, her doctor also encouraged her to consider moving to an assisted-living community.

The choice in all three situations: Clark Jeary an Immanuel Community, whose compassionate care by professional staff members provides peace of mind for residents as well as their families.

We share their stories in the capsules below:

Ervin Beerenstrauch, 98, and his wife, Beryl, 94, are no strangers to hard work. At one time they farmed 900 acres between DeWitt and Plymouth, Nebraska. What they were not accustomed to was having professional caregivers look after them. Beryl liked what she saw of Clark Jeary when members of her church circle would visit a resident there.

The couple’s son Tom, who lives a half-dozen blocks from Clark Jeary, heartily recommended the retirement community to his parents. Tom owns a therapy dog which has entertained Clark Jeary residents.

“The residents here are very friendly and have a great outlook on life,” said Beryl, who enjoys the exercise classes and is an avid reader. Her husband Ervin put it succinctly and well when he added: “I thought I came here to die, but I’m living life.”

Al Papik, former senior associate athletic director at UNL, retired in 2000 at age 74 after a career that included 21 years of coaching. Clark Jeary was one of five retirement communities on Marcia Henning’s radar when the Papiks’ daughter shopped for a community after her mother’s health began to fail. Al lived alone following his wife’s passing, but he relied almost exclusively on his nearby supermarket for his meals.

After the medical episode convinced Al that additional care was prudent, he moved 18 months ago to Clark Jeary, where he became reacquainted with Sarah Erickson, widow of Papik’s longtime coaching friend, Bob Erickson.

Al has embraced his new life. “Clark Jeary has a very home-like feeling with great meals and programs,” he said.

Karen Kirk, also prompted to seek additional assistance after a medical episode, said a Stretch & Tone class led by Wellness Coordinator Tim Soenksen caught her eye during a tour. “It had such a calming effect … it looked like everyone was having fun doing it,” said Karen. The Wellness Program is an important amenity to help residents maintain their health and physical well-being, and the reason Karen chose Clark Jeary as her new home. Soenksen leads group exercise classes and works with people individually if a resident has a specific need or goal.

Clark Jeary can assist with a variety of care needs from medication administration, transfer assistance, bathing and dressing. Each resident has their own personalized service plan directed by the nursing and care partner team. Katie Johnsen, Assisted Living Supervisor with 14 years employment at Clark Jeary, says: “One of the things I love about Clark Jeary is the sense of family and caring commitment I see every day.” All of the Clark Jeary team is guided by Immanuel’s mission: Christ-centered service to seniors, each other and the community.

Clark Jeary has 60 residents in Assisted Living, 16 in Memory Support and 46 in Independent Living and is located at 8401 S. 33rd St.

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L Magazine editor

Mark Schwaninger is L magazine and Neighborhood Extra editor.

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