Samantha Lawrence, like many in the industry, was inspired to get into senior living from a personal experience. Lawrence’s great grandfather had Alzheimer’s and when she would visit him it was a very stereotypical nursing home. One time while Lawrence was visiting, a resident asked her for a laxative, so she passed along the message to the nearest nurse. However, the nurse told Lawrence to ignore the residents request, which did not sit right with her, even as a kid. With no hesitation, Lawrence went back up to the resident and started talking to her, and her family could not get her out of there. This one interaction sparked Lawrence to begin volunteering at a local nursing home and when she was 16, she was able to get her first real job there. From the beginning, Lawrence had a distinct passion for engaging with the residents, and when an activities position opened, she was quick to find a replacement for her front desk role so she could become more involved in the day to day. Lawrence believes that “the most ethical way we treat people comes from knowing their story,” and this belief has fueled her drive throughout her career in senior living.
In her role at Brightview, she oversees eight communities in New Jersey and has another one opening at the end of the month. All the Executive Directors, Associate Executive Directors, and sales teams, report to Lawrence. She enjoys collaborating with the rest of the regional team to support and guide every community. Aside from day-to-day operations, a large part of Lawrence’s passion and role involves mentoring and being a cheerleader for others at Brightview, in hopes to help them grow and accomplish their career goals. Lawrence originally came to Brightview in April 2015, and then took on her new role in October 2019, so it has been quite a time of learning and adjusting in the wake of COVID-19 as Regional Director of Operations.
For 2021, Brightview has a business plan centered around three pillars: continuing to mitigate the risk of COVID-19, supporting, and advocating for the vaccine, regaining occupancy, and rebuilding vibrancy within their communities. She is extremely proud of the creativity she witnessed at Brightview and they are expecting net gains with occupancy as they return to normalcy as safely and swiftly as possible. Lawrence remarks, “our teams were so resilient, they have incredible hearts, drive, and dedication, over the last year we all learned the true value and importance of teamwork.” As they move forward, Lawrence is looking for ways to highlight how their communities came together and leveraging that to become stronger instead of reverting to old ways.
Lawrence was inspired from a young age to shift the narrative around senior care and strives to do so every day at Brightview. She has come a long way from witnessing what was wrong in the industry firsthand, to being a changemaker in the lives of seniors in her communities. “It always comes back to people,” she says, “Brightview has a great product because we have great people.”