BBL was a remarkable undertaking at first as there were no other placement services locally owned and operated.
Bridge to Better Living® was a dream inspired by a scattered pile of brochures, notes, business cards and class homework waiting to be graded on a kitchen table. Mary Ann Stallings, who was at the time a middle school educator, and her husband had helped several family members and friends research and find communities for their loved ones through the years. Some were challenged by health; others simply wanted a stress-free life in their golden years. Each effort was daunting. At first the feeling was like being shot out of a cannon and not knowing on which corner of the field they would land. Eventually, the similarities of the communities became apparent, but differences were varied and ever changing. The more Mary Ann helped people and asked questions the more her dream took root. How many others were going through the same process? Were they finding it as confusing as she was? Wouldn’t it be helpful if someone could provide not only guidance through this new world but also offer a shoulder when needed? Wouldn’t it be perfect if the assistance was free?
Mary Ann visited with leaders in the community to see what their thoughts were about the potential success of such a business. She interviewed communities to learn their needs and how her vision could complement a retirement community’s goals. Lunch dates were made with key members in the Senior Health Community. Was Home Health the only option? Were people staying at home too long? What started people thinking about moving and what hindered them? No resource was left uncovered. Suddenly the paper haystack of community information was joined by spreadsheets and charts; binders and forms. Mary Ann enrolled in a business course and drew up a business plan. It sold.
One Fall day Mary Ann went for a drive and seeing a bridge closing the gap between one direction and another, took out her camera and snapped a photo. The name of her business became Bridge to Better Living®. After all, lives were moving from one direction to another.
On January 16, 2010 Bridge to Better Living® opened its doors to the Lincoln community.
Initially, describing the goal and purpose took an abundance of explanation. People were astounded a service they had only wished for was actually existent. Most families had accepted, sometimes grudgingly, the family “duty” of placing their loved ones where they felt needs were met, some with success and others with only temporary victory. Achievement came only after much hair-pulling, sleepless nights, days filled with visiting one community after another and constant number crunching. The results were mixed. Instead of one advocate to guide the way there were multiple contacts. Sometimes the search ended where it had begun. Bridge to Better Living® now bridged the “gap.” One individual who understood the person and made it their goal to fit the community to the client…physically, socially, medically and within a budget. Families began calling. They took a chance on a new concept, liked the service and began spreading the word.
Soon Mary Ann expanded and grew BBL with another consultant. As success grew in Lincoln she took an educated leap and started serving families and communities in the Omaha area.
Another consultant followed and soon communities surrounding Lincoln and Omaha became part of Bridge to Better Living®’s circle. A third consultant was added in the seventh year of BBL. Bridge to Better Living®’s mission of Passion with Placement prompted continuous growth.
Well over a thousand families have been served by Bridge to Better Living®’s consultants over the last eight years.
One phone has grown to five phones. Cars wrapped in the logo and mission of the company are seen everyday and everywhere. Awards have been bestowed on both consultants and Bridge to Better Living®. Solid relationships have been made with professionals, communities, philanthropic groups, churches, multiple women’s and men’s groups. The best relationships, however, have been built with the families. Bridge to Better Living® is a large family and they laugh as well as cry with each member. Their clients matter.
Mary Ann had a dream and didn’t have to chase it. She simply took time to breathe life into what was needed. Bridge to Better Living® was only the means… people were the fulfillment. Mary Ann easily took to heart the Golden Rule;