No Place Like Home

Retired minister makes temporary home in assisted living facility.

Rev. Jesse Baker has been a Methodist minister for nearly 60 years, 38 of which were spent ministering to various churches across Florida. Now 84, he has been retired for 20 years, but he’s not silent.

Photo by Nerissa Johnson.

Rev. Baker enjoys the company of caregiver Bobbi Lynch.

“I was raised in New Jersey, but I went to college at Florida Southern College in Lakeland and did my seminary work at Southern Methodist University No Place Like Homein Dallas, Texas,” Rev. Baker relates. “I was ordained as a deacon at the Methodist Annual Conference in 1960 and ordained an elder three years later. I’ve been in that role ever since.”
In 2013, Rev. Baker was successfully treated for prostate cancer, but in 2016, cancer was found in his bones. The high-powered medication he took to combat it was leaving him tired and weak.
Then, in December 2016, Rev. Baker suffered a stroke. He has since recovered from that, but his cancer returned again, this time leaving him so tired and weak that he sought the aid of an in-home health care service.
After receiving nearly three weeks of care at home, Rev. Baker started looking for a temporary home where someone could assist him with his daily living activities until his strength was restored.
He didn’t have to look very far. Right behind the wall of the Port Orange neighborhood where he lives is Grace Manor Port Orange, an assisted living and memory care community with a reputation for personal attention.
“The minute we stepped into Grace Manor, I said, This is the place to be,” Rev. Baker relates.
The Grace Manor Port Orange assisted living community includes 54 private suites where seniors reside in apartment-style suites with assistance for daily living activities such as bathing, dressing, grooming and hygiene.

Higher Level of Care

“Grace Manor is a step between our resident’s family home and a full-time nursing facility,” describes Danielle Ashby, president of Grace Manor. “We’re here for individuals who need a little higher level of care and can no longer be at home alone. We provide the caring assistance they require so they don’t need to enter a full-time nursing facility.
“Providing a home-like environment is a point of pride with us. This is our residents’ home. We like to say we work in the residents’ homes; they don’t live where we work. It’s assisted living, but it’s personalized and comfortable, just like home.”
“When I got here, I was impressed by the total atmosphere, especially the care and love of the staff,” states Rev. Baker. “Grace Manor is a small, tight-knit
community, and that appealed to me.”

Vim and Vigor

Rev. Baker is in his second month of residency at Grace Manor. At the end of three months, he’ll be evaluated to see when he can return home. His plan is to stay for six months, at the end of which he believes he’ll be strong enough to return to his normal activities.
“I think within that time I’ll have gained enough strength to go back to my home and live there again,’’ he says. “I am, however, enjoying getting everything taken care of for me. The staff at Grace Manor is very thorough.’’

“I’ve already found myself gaining strength, and the Grace Manor staff who’ve been attending to me have been marvelous!” – Rev. Baker

An Air Force veteran who was active during the Korean conflict, Rev. Baker has been wrestling with cancer, not to mention his stroke, for several years. He’s grateful to his family at Grace Manor for the help and support they’ve provided as he continues his fight.
“I’ve been through three phases just this year of doing well, then getting sick, then bouncing back,” he says. “I intend to do the same thing in my current situation. I’ve already found myself gaining strength, and the Grace Manor staff who’ve been attending to me have been marvelous!”

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