By Kathy Shiels Tully, Globe Correspondent, as seen: Boston Globe
Just 10 percent of family-owned businesses survive to the third generation. Then there’s the Arnold House Nursing Home in Stoneham, where two cousins from the fourth generation work at the 22-bed facility their great grandmother, Marjorie Jeanne Rowe Cook, founded in 1949.
Ashley Sullivan, 22, and Lauren Cox, 25, continue her legacy of providing compassionate care to the elderly, whether it be short or long term, hospice, or assisted living. The 1:4 daytime nurse/patient ratio and homey atmosphere attracts people from around the region seeking a safe place for a loved one.
Cox, a registered nurse, commutes from Worcester. Sullivan, a 2013 graduate of the former Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Cambridge, is pastry chef and director of food services. She lives in South Boston.
Three of Marjorie’s grandchildren own the cozy, Victorian-style home: Robert Cox, Lauren’s father; Kim Arpin; and Jil Sullivan, Lauren’s mother, the CEO/director of nursing.
We spoke with Ashley.
Q. Special memories?
A. When we were younger, we came here every Christmas party. There’s appetizers and desserts, drinks, and music. Santa Claus comes for photos with the residents and their families. Lauren and I would be the ‘coat girls’ or walk around with food. That’s where I got into loving food and serving it.
When I was 4, my mum was the RN here. This was my day care. She would would bring me here. I’d sit and play with the patients.
Q. Family’s secret to success?
A. To treat all the residents like family. I hug them every day. In the morning, I serve them breakfast. There’s a set menu, but they can have whatever they want. It is their home.
Q. Average resident age? Longest-term resident?
A. The average resident age is 90. The oldest is 97. Last year, our oldest resident was a 102-year-old woman. She passed away two months shy of her 103d birthday. The longest-term resident was a man. He was here for 17 years.
Q. Residents’ favorite pastry?
A. They like the bread pudding. They love cakes, my whoopie pies [chocolate] and I make chocolate chip cookies that they absolutely love.
Q. Working with your mother?
A. I see her 24/7. We agree to disagree on things, but she’s always right. Because she’s the mom and owner. She runs the place.
Kathy Shiels Tully
Kathy Shiels Tully can be reached at [email protected].