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Beacon welcomes new director: Andrea Myers has big plans, including bringing back communal dining

The Beacon welcomed new Executive Director Andrea Myers Aug. 31 to the lead the team with her heart for senior care.

Originally from Miami, Myers moved around growing up and migrated to Gulf Breeze six years ago. She has three children and was impressed with the Santa Rosa County school district and said it was what drew her here.

She was working as the Executive Director at an assisted living facility in Pensacola by West Florida Hospital and wanted to find a job closer to her house.

When Myers found out she got the job at The Beacon, she put in her 38-day notice the next day, she said.

“I’ve always worked in memory care and I’ve always had a heart for it,” Myers said. “I’m a certified dementia practitioner and I really want to revive the memory care here, as well as bring in some education programs.”

Myers likes the culture at The Beacon and in Gulf Breeze. Growing up in Florida, Gulf Breeze reminds her of the Keys with a “laid back island life.”
“I always say, ‘A building takes on the of the personality of the administer,’” she added. “What I want to emulate here is laid-back fairness, compassion and equality. I treat everyone as if they’re on my level. We’re all on a team together.”

Residents at the Beacon have been getting trays of food served to their rooms to take precautions during the COVD-19 pandemic. Myers is prioritizing bringing communal meals back.

She said The Beacon is going to start doing two different dining hours Nov. 9, starting with lunch, so they can still adhere to the governor’s rules of social distancing while dining.

“I think it’s so important to get our dining back. We’ve got beautiful centerpieces and tablecloths. I’m just trying to amp it up,” she said.
Myers has big plans to focus on improving the dining experience at The Beacon.

“I’m working on getting an outdoor grilling station installed so we can have barbecues,” Myers said with excitement. “With this weather changing, it’s just the perfect time of year with football and cooking outside. That way we can still have our outside, social distanced gatherings, but enjoy a meal together.”

The Beacon also has a beautiful bar being installed in the dining room so they can have happy hour by late winter.

“Spirits are being lifted. We had our visitation start back Sept. 15 and everyone’s spirit seemed to be elevated,” she said.

Visitors must go through a training that mostly involves common sense about hand-washing and prevention of spreading disease.

As of last week, children can visit The Beacon again. Before last week, visitors had to be 18 and older. Residents are thrilled to see their grandchildren again and families are thankful.

Myers loves having conversations with the residents and learning more about their lives.

“Getting to know these amazing lives that I get to basically take care of now is humbling,” she said.

The Beacon will be having a Veteran Pinning Ceremony on Veteran’s Day to show appreciation for residents who served our country. The pinning will take place at 10:45 a.m. Nov. 11.

Myers was very close with her grandparents and she feels as if she is paying it forward in a way.

“A lot of people my age and especially younger maybe take it for granted or they just don’t want to deal with it,” she said. “There’s a lot of misconceptions with what people would call nursing homes. The Beacon is just a beautiful place.”

Myers used to bring her students to the Beacon when she worked at West Navarre Intermediate School in pre-K special needs. During Christmastime, she would bring them to The Beacon to deliver handmade ornaments and cards and she always said, ‘I want to live here one day.’

“It’s kind of funny how full circle it’s come,” she laughed. “I don’t live here, but it’s cool to say that I run it because I was proud of it before and now, I’m even more proud.”