Home News Local News Peachtree director treats residents as own parents; Her management style is hands-on

Peachtree director treats residents as own parents; Her management style is hands-on

From left, Shawny Lewis, resident services; Hildred Sandy, resident; Mary Beth Lawrence, executive director of Peachtree Village; and Betty Shepler, resident. (Timothy P. Howsare Photo)

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

Mary Beth Lawrence said being the executive director of Peachtree Village Retirement Community is the toughest job she’s ever had. She’s been at the job for the past six years.

“It’s a tough gig,” she said.

But Lawrence probably wouldn’t want an easier job even if it was offered to her.

Before responding to an ad in the newspaper for the job at Peachtree and then getting hired, she worked in medical records at the New Mexico Rehabilitation Center, where she found working for the state government a bit too mundane with “lots of paperwork.”

Besides her daytime hours at the office, Lawrence said being in charge of Peachtree is a 24/7 endeavor because a staff member can call at 2 a.m. if there is an issue that needs to be addressed.

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Some of the residents have dementia, and because of that, there’s always a possibility one of them could forget to turn off a faucet and cause flooding.

Now, Lawrence said, she has her staffers walk past the doors to the apartments in the wee hours and listen for running water.

Her management style seems to be very hands-on. She does all of the marketing for the community, which is owned by Compass Senior Living. In April, Lawrence was awarded Director of the Year.

For the past several years, Peachtree has maintained 100-percent occupancy in its 64 apartments, which Lawrence said is not an easy task for a private-pay community.

And although a few employees have come and gone over her six years at the helm, 70 percent of the employees who were there when she started still work there.

Lawrence moved to Roswell with her family from Massachusetts in 1977. She attended Goddard High School for four years and then attended New Mexico State University, where she graduated in 1985 with a major in administration and a minor in operations.

Her sister was in the restaurant industry and Lawrence worked at the restaurant to help pay for college.

After graduating, she got her first job as the director of the restaurants at the Albuquerque International Sunport. At that time the restaurants were all owned by American Airlines food service company, Sky Chef.

Lawrence said one of the biggest perks was getting to fly for free on any flight if it had an empty seat.

Her then-husband-to-be, David, was from Roswell, so she moved back to Roswell with him in 1986 to get married.

The couple had two daughters, who are now grown.

“Trying to find a job here was tough,” she said. “I worked for Pizza Hut for 10 years when it was across the street from Farley’s.”

Raising two daughters while working 60 to 70 hours a week was difficult, so Lawrence said she went to work at Pecos Valley Medical Center, where it was more of a 9-to-5 job.

Lawrence said she treats the residents as if they were her own family. Also, she wants the family members of the residents to be able to leave town knowing their elder loved ones are in good hands.

Tanya Kraft, whose mother lives at Peachtree, recently traveled overseas with her husband, Rick.

“Mary Beth is top notch,” Kraft said. “She loves each one of the residents as if they were her own parents. She goes out of her way to provide a family feeling.”

Lawrence said she has started several programs to recognize the residents, like a picture wall for residents who are veterans, scrapbooks chock full of photos and posts on Facebook that family members of residents can enjoy.

“They are in another stage of their lives that doesn’t have to be lonely,” she said. “They all have something we can learn from. The veterans who live here have a legacy and we must keep that alive.”

Community News reporter Timothy P. Howsare can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or vistas@rdrnews.com.

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