The journey is different for everyone. Some families visit Aspen Creek in the early stages of dealing with the disease. While others find us after experiencing other care alternatives or exhausting the resources they have to care for those they love at home. But no matter how they arrive, they all reach the same conclusion. Aspen Creek isn’t the end of the road; it’s the start of a much better path.
Hello, my name is Teresa Crawford and I am the President of Aspen Creek. My husband, Brian, and I founded Aspen Creek in 2009 in Sullivan, Illinois. We, along with our three (3) beautiful children live in Sullivan. We have two daughters (Witten and Elaina) and a son (Case) that are our pride and joy. Brian farms with his family and has taken over the fully responsibility of the farm since his fathers retirement. Between the kids, the farm and Aspen Creek, we are a busy family.
Aspen Creek was the realization of a life-long dream that was formed by my relationship with my grandmother Madge. I grew up being very close to her. To this day she is my favorite and I miss her everyday. She was just AMAZING.
Amazing doesn’t scratch the surface in describing the kind of woman she was. She was a loving, strong, patient, hard-working Christian farm wife, mother and grandmother. She molded me by her life and by her death. It was when she was dying that I started wanting to work in healthcare, but it was from her life that I decided I wanted to work with seniors in healthcare. When I was 17 years old, I knew I wanted to work with seniors and actually had a goal of becoming an Administrator in long-term care. I have been in senior-living since graduating from college with a degree in Health Services Administration in 1992. I started as a nursing assistant in high school and kept focused on my goal until I became an Administrator in 1995. I then began working my way up and ended my corporate career in 2009 as Vice President of Operations for a mid-sized not-for-profit company in Illinois.
I am an absolute believer in God’s plan for me and our family. He has shown me throughout my life that He is much better at guiding me through my life than I could ever be. He has put me places I didn’t want to go and made me experience situations that were hard and painful. But He always held me up and what I learned was invaluable. He was preparing me for Aspen Creek. I am blessed by His love and grace every moment of each day. Aspen Creek is an organization that strives to bring him praise and glory in our daily work and mission.
Aspen Creek is the culmination of many different experiences in my life, starting with my childhood with my Grandmother. As I was making my way through my journey to founding Aspen Creek, I had many wonderful experiences and many painful ones too. I learned when large organizations and large facilities care for individuals, the individual gets lost in the process. I worked so hard to move up the ladder because I thought that is what success looked like. But when I got to where I thought I was supposed to be, I hated it. I wasn’t taking care of people; I was taking care of regulations and numbers. I didn’t enjoy that part and was tired of trying so hard to make a difference from an office for people that I would never be able to meet face to face. When you are told by the President of the company that you care too much about people, its time to move on, so I started working on a business plan and structure for how I wanted to be able to care for people. I worked on it in the evenings and on weekends when I could. It took me close to two (2) years to fully complete. I am blessed to have a husband and true partner that believes in me and wanted me to find the fulfillment that had been missing in my career. Enter, Aspen Creek. In August of 2009 I resigned my corporate position and started out on my own. I was scared to death, but I knew I was supposed to do this.
Many ask me if the name “Aspen Creek” means anything. It does, there is a lot of meaning in it. I grew up in Burns, Wyoming. Out west, the Aspen tree is as prevalent as the Pine tree. The Aspen tree is my favorite tree because of its beauty, but I chose it as a part of our name because of how they grow. Aspen trees are not just one tree, they are a part of a larger root system that hooks them all together and helps them survive. The Aspen is symbolic of how one person needs another. Not only do the resident’s need us, we need them too. The Creek is also symbolic in our name. It symbolizes the ebbs and flows of life and how this organization brought me back to life and gave me true meaning in my daily work.
Aspen Creek is a very unique organization and is quite different than what you may be used to. We are very small, and we like it that way. Our small size is a big part of our identity. We made a deliberate choice to operate in small rural communities rather than larger cities. I live in a small community and see how services are lacking and how families are forced drive out of town for them. I wanted to bring services that add value to towns like mine, and become a part of the communities. We do not operate a facility, we provide a home and it is a home in every sense of the word. We have private suites with private bathrooms for our residents to decorate and enjoy however THEY want. Two of our suites are very large so we can accommodate requests by married couples or other individuals that may want to live together at Aspen Creek. We also will accommodate requests for semi-private accommodations to help lessen the financial burden. Our philosophy is a very simple one, if people wouldn’t have something in their own home, we won’t have it at Aspen Creek (with the exception of fire safety equipment and a system for making sure our residents that wander stay safe). You won’t see lights in hallways and buzzers going off, or medicine carts being pushed around by nurses that are overworked. What you will see is a beautiful home with residents being cared for in ways that are as individual as they are. You will smell our wonderful HOME cooked meals and see our staff as engaged with the residents as they are with the staff. We believe in a very person-centered approach in our care. Everyone is different and we accommodate his or her preferences and let the resident guide us. Just because they have dementia doesn’t mean they are to unable make decisions and be successful with the abilities that they still have. I tell my staff all of the time, our job is to be “yes” people. We want to find ways to make our resident’s and families happy and in anything they ask say “yes” if it is anyway possible. So far, that mindset has been a successful one for us.
I am thankful everyday to have this opportunity. God has blessed me far beyond measure and beyond what I deserve. He is the true driver of the success we have had on our journey. Granted, every day is not easy, but every day and each MOMENT we share is truly worth it! The residents, families and staff that Aspen Creek has brought into my life are true treasures and fill me with indescribable joy.