A home in the hills at Good Samaritan Retirement Center
When the house becomes too much to take care of, when the children are all wrapped up in their own lives, when aches and pains are something to contend with every hour, then it’s time to look around for someplace where others can care for you and encircle you into a new family. The Good Samaritan Retirement Center, located in the foothills of rural El Cajon, is just the place for that.
Owned and operated by the Chaldean Sisters Daughters of Mary Immaculate Conception, with the Mother Superior residing in Baghdad, the retirement home is in good hands all day and all night. The home is in a gated community between Rancho San Diego Nursery and the blue-domed St. Peter’s Chaldean Catholic Cathedral.
“This is one of the things that sets us apart from other facilities,” said Administrative Marketer Susan Sorensen. “Even if you’re no religious, this is a good place to be.”
Each day the residents join together in the cafeteria with big, wide windows. Along the way from their rooms to the cafeteria, the residents are greeted by Sister Alexandra Mattie, one of the five sisters living in the convent next door to the center. They all have good meals cooked up by Chef Willie, formerly of Hotel Del Coronado.
Good Samaritan residents can also stop in at the beautiful stained-glass cathedral for Mass at 9 a.m.
“The chapel is open 24 hours a day so that anyone can in go in at any hour and pray,” said Sister Mattie. “We do whatever we can to help people feel comfortable here.”
Father Dave Leon, who came over from the now-defunct Little Flower Haven in La Mesa, also lives on site.
“He keeps the community going. He offers classes and holds movies once a month in our Theater Lounge. And if people want to go see him personally to talk or have confession, he is available in his office,” Sorensen said.
Sometimes people mistakenly think that only Chaldeans live at Good Samaritan, but in reality, only four Chaldeans are currently residing there.
“Everyone is welcome here,” Sorenson said.
“We have people here of every religion here, even Jewish,” said Sister Mattie.
One of Sister Mattie’s hobbies is growing fruit trees, and the fruits of her labor abound on the property with everything from almond and apricot trees to tangerine and walnut trees. She has her own little chicken coop in back of the large yard space out back and she sews the vestments for Father Dave.
The light streaming in every resident room, lobbies and recreation rooms add to the warm of the place. Most especially, though, it’s the human touch that makes the difference.
Allen Stanko comes by regularly to visit with his mother and the other residents and staff.
“I’ve had the nurses here tell me that taking care of my mother is like taking care of their own. People are so loving and friendly here.
“Plus the food is great here,” Stanko said.
Sorensen agreed. “Chef Willie makes coconut muffins to die for,” she said.
Chef Willie smiled. “Working here, I love knowing that I am giving the people a sense of dignity. What they want and how they want their food is valuable to me,” he said.
Good Samaritan is relatively small, with 58 single studios and currently six shared studios. Families are always welcome to visit and will feel right at home in either of the two lounges.
The sizes of the residential rooms vary from a single studio at 390 square feet to a grand studio at 580 square feet. A shared room is 520 square feet, perfect for friends or a married couple to share.
“And if the wife and husband would like their own space, we have rooms with a door between them that would be great for them,” Sorensen said.
Rooms are furnished or residents can use their own furniture. Prices are very economical, ranging from $2,500 for a shared room to $3,800 for the grand studio. What’s more, all meals are included as well as housekeeping and linen service, medication management and personal attention.
The whiteboard just around the corner from the cafeteria is chock-full of everyday activities, from bingo games to special presentations and speakers. “Any local talent is welcome to donate their time and talent here,” Sorensen said.
For residents needing Level II Care, an additional $500 is added to the room cost; for Level III care, an additional $1,000 per month is added.
Plans are in the near future for a Memory Care and Hospice groundbreaking.
For a tour with Sorensen, staff and residents, schedule an appointment with her by calling 619-590-1515. For more information abut the Center, go to www,goodsamretirement1.org.