BETHANY — Susanne Crenshaw's worlds — real estate and elder care — have collided at Daily Living Centers for almost 20 years.
And the Realtor world has taken notice of her longtime volunteer work for the adult day health care service.
Crenshaw, a sales associate with Keller Williams of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, has been named by the National Association of Realtors as one of 10 national finalists for Realtor Magazine's 14th annual Good Neighbor Awards. She is the first Oklahoman to be honored as a finalist for the award.
After 30 years as a manufacturing manager for Lucent Technologies ended in 2001, Crenshaw turned to real estate. She joined Keller Williams in 2010.
It was at Lucent where she once “loaned” an employee to United Way for a volunteer assignment at a Daily Living Center, a nonprofit committed to providing day care services for frail elderly and handicapped adults.
When the employee came back, Crenshaw recalled, “She told me I had to get involved.”
Crenshaw listened. The center's mission hit home. With her own parents aging, Crenshaw said she was concerned about issues of elderly adult care that the Daily Living Centers address. She contacted Bill Weaver, executive director, and he invited her to lunch.
“That was 19 years ago, and the rest is history,” Crenshaw said.
Weaver, now president of the nonprofit's board, said Daily Living Centers make up the largest adult day health care program in Oklahoma, providing 120 to 150 participants a day with “self-sufficiency, dignity and hope.”
Donna Bowers, vice president of operations, said Crenshaw's expertise in real estate has been invaluable to the centers' growth, helping secure properties in Midwest City and in Edmond for satellite operations.
“Soon we're going to be able to fill a real need in the Moore and Midwest City area,” Bowers said.
Daily Living Centers now are at 1681 SW 86 (at Pennsylvania Avenue); 3413 Wynn Drive in Edmond; in the Jeltz Center at 1225 N Kate; and the main location, 3000 N Rockwell in Bethany.
Bowers said Crenshaw has led fundraising efforts for the construction of two new facilities — in Midwest City-Del City and in the Shartel Towers — and has helped launch a daily transportation service, a fleet of limousines that provide rides to and from the centers, as well as for shopping and personal errands.
It was because of her work with Daily Living Centers that Crenshaw entered the real estate field “wanting to work with seniors,” she said. She said she has been particularly active, “stepping in where I can,” to help older adults sell their homes to ease moves to assisted-living centers.
In other cases, she simply focuses on matching families with homes — often involving seniors.
At 4417 Dahoon Drive, after the elderly owner died, Crenshaw listed the property and walked family members through the probate process. At the conclusion, “I put a sign in the yard and had a contract on the house in 24 hours,” Crenshaw said. The 1978-square foot, two-bedroom, two-bathroom house in the Arbors addition sold for $167,500.
A reason to serve
Crenshaw is the longest-serving member of the Daily Living Centers board, having served four terms as its president.
On a recent morning, the center in Bethany was alive with music and guided group activities.
Crenshaw greeted many of the seniors by name, including Don Fuller — one-time board member, now himself a frequent participant.
“Don joined us for the same reason I did,” Crenshaw said. “His mother needed the care we offered, and he just got involved from there.”
Crenshaw said her experience with her parents, along with the thousands of other elderly adults and their caregivers who have benefited from Daily Living Centers, has taught her that her volunteer energies are well-placed.
“Helping the elderly is the most difficult job,” Weaver said. “Everybody just thinks, ‘Put 'em in a nursing home,' but that's not always best.”
In October, five winners will be announced from among the 10 Good Neighbor Awards finalists, each being awarded a $10,000 grant for their community cause. The five honorable mentions will each receive a $2,500 grant.
“We are very proud to have an Oklahoman nominated to receive the 2013 Good Neighbor Award,” said Joe Pryor, president of the Oklahoma Association of Realtors. “Oklahoma Realtors know the importance of giving back to their communities, and Susanne is an outstanding example of that commitment.”