Becky Chong has worked with seniors her entire career, beginning in college as a volunteer for a large assisted living facility in La Mirada, California. Having enjoyed spending time with her grandparents and great grandparents as a child, working with seniors came naturally to Becky......
Prior to moving to San Diego from Northern California’s Napa Valley in 1996, Becky worked for The Altenheim Retirement Home in Oakland, California where she earned her California State Certification as an Activity Director for elderly care facilities.
Once settled in San Diego, after a two year hiatus traveling and living in Asia, Becky worked on the administrative staff of a large assisted living facility on Coronado Island. It was during this time Becky experienced firsthand the need for small dementia care facilities. She saw so many of the residents at this facility being moved into skilled nursing homes strictly because of their cognitive impairment, not because they needed skilled nursing care. This was in 1997 and the ‘memory care’ facility movement had yet to take off.
Becky had grown up around entrepreneurial minded people – her parents owned and operated their own business all her growing up years - and doing the same felt right. Becky’s Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Biola University, her love for seniors and her desire to provide a better alternative for those suffering from dementia, allowed her to successfully create, own and operate four small care facilities right here in the Mount Helix area of La Mesa. Named ‘The Park at Mt. Helix’, these homes enjoyed much success and cared for many seniors and supported their families from 1998 to 2005.
Becky began having children in 1999, two girls: Alyssa and Kira. In 2004 her son Danny was adopted from Kazakhstan. When her children were two, four and six years old, Becky spent a year traveling the United States in a motor home while home-schooling her children. Once settled back in San Diego, Becky accepted a position with an in-home care agency as one of their Geriatric Care Managers. For four years Becky helped families manage the care of their loved ones at home and when the need arose she also provided assistance with facility placement.
During this time Becky’s entrepreneurial bug returned as she saw the need for a stop-gap for those who wanted to remain at home, but either couldn’t afford around-the-clock care, needed more social interaction, or both. Many of the families she worked with wanted to assist with caring for their family members but at the same time they had children of their own to care for or other obligations which made full-time caregiving an impossibility. She also met with many families who simply did not like the idea of bringing a caregiver into their own homes. She knew without a doubt: San Diego needed more options for senior day care. She envisioned a home away from home environment which would provide enrichment for the senior and a respite for the family caregiver. She knew of a few larger senior day programs, but nothing like what she hoped to create.
In 2013, after struggling through the painful break-up of her seventeen-year marriage, Becky opened Rebecca’s Retreat Senior Day Program in the Mount Helix area of La Mesa. The Retreat has enjoyed much success from the start, operating with a waiting list ever since its second year of operation.
On a more personal note, Becky has remained active in the schooling and extracurricular activities of her three children who in 2016 will turn 13, 15 and 17 years old. Foothills United Methodist Church has been Becky’s faith community for over ten years now. She enjoys working with the seniors’ group ‘Foothills Folks’ there as well as serving on the Family Camp Steering Committee and as one of the Liturgists on Sunday mornings. Her hobbies include singing, cooking, gardening, snow skiing, decorating/remodeling and enjoying time with her long-time companion, Mitch, as well as her extended family, including her parents who recently celebrated 50 years of marriage.
Becky will be forever grateful to all the families who have entrusted her with caring for their loved ones. She can confidently say she is one of the lucky ones who loves her work and the people she works with. Together with a small group of her good friends, Becky is blessed to spend her days, Monday through Friday, with smart, creative, loving, expressive, thriving seniors, ranging in age from 72 to 103! She has also been surprised by how happy she is to have Rebecca’s Retreat operate from the comfort and beauty of her very own home in a neighborhood of amazing, generous and kind-hearted people.
Sue Sullivan was born in San Diego and grew up right here in East County’s Santee. She is the proud mother to grown sons, Kyle and Blaine, and fun-loving grandmother to Kyle’s teenage son, Austin. Three years ago Sue added to her family when she adopted Ted, an energetic poodle-mix. Ted is one of our fury friends at the Retreat and his charismatic personality brings love, affection and comfort to all our seniors.
Sue has been an instrumental figure of the Retreat since its inception in 2012, Along with her caring, loving and giving spirit of community service and advocacy work, she also brings thirty years+ of experience in the hospitality industry. Her passion & drive to help others over the years is extensive, but we would like to highlight just a few. For the past twenty-two years, Sue has lead monthly support groups for the female inmates at Los Colinas Women’s Detention Center. It was there she saw the library was in desperate need of more modern & up to date books, so she spearheaded this project, which is hugely successful today. Sue was also called to assist those struggling emotionally by volunteering her time at the Halcyon Center, a Crisis Center in El Cajon as well as the Stephen’s Ministry where she is long-time member of Foothills United Methodist Church. Needless to say, Sue has a servant’s heart.
In 2006 Sue embarked on a trip-of-a-lifetime: around the world in eight months. This trip added to her already expansive travels – she has visited well over 25 countries to date! During her world tour she fell in love with Yoga. Upon her return to the states, she was led to become a certified instructor of Hatha and Restorative Yoga.
In addition to Yoga, Sue also practices the art of Reiki which provides a healing touch. Sue currently teaches five yoga and exercise classes per week around East County in such places as Grossmont Hospital and La Vida Real Retirement Community. Her certification with the Silver Sneakers Senior Exercise program as well as the San Diego Arthritis Foundation exercise program (AFEP) allows her to bring innovative exercise programs to the community and to the Retreat. Sue is the perfect fit to facilitate this group right here at Rebecca’s Retreat.
Sue feels blessed to have been invited to be a part of the Retreat. Her work here has allowed her to tap into all her professional and personal experience and use it all to enhance the lives of seniors and their family caregivers. In her spare time, Sue enjoys spending time with family and friends, dancing, hiking and reading.
Jill Miller joined the team at Rebecca's Retreat in 2014. She brings with her the desire to learn from and enrich the lives of the seniors she cares for each day. She thoroughly enjoys the clients at Rebecca's Retreat and finds getting to know each of them a privilege and honor...
Jill has always felt a kinship with seniors from the time she was a young girl growing up in small town Iowa. For some reason, her large family was surrounded by elderly neighbors who she visited, worked for and loved. She remembers many hours watching “Little House on the Prairie” with a senior neighbor and became fascinated with the stories seniors had to tell. This fascination continued and she has sought out the aged all her life.
After a long career as an Editor and Project Manager for a nonprofit IT company here in San Diego, Jill made a decision to switch directions. Using the same skills that made her successful in her job, she began collecting the stories of elders. Her listening skills, interest and curiosity about people combined with her ability to write made the new direction a perfect one. She has been helping elders share their stories and legacies for the past several years. Her desire to join the team at Rebecca's Retreat grew from seeing how the homelike environment and quality care so beautifully met the needs of aging clients.
Jill finds the most challenging and satisfying aspect of her work at Rebecca's Retreat is to use creativity and sensitivity to meet the needs of a very disparate group of people. By listening to and being sensitive to the needs of each individual, the Retreat turns a group of strangers from all walks of life into a family that supports each other in the aging process. Jill is honored to be part of this incredible team and program that provides the highest quality care for seniors.
Karol Miller has worked at Rebecca's Retreat since 2014. The theme running through Karol's life has been a desire to make people feel better by listening to and caring for them. This started when she was a teenager in Iowa, working at the local nursing home and Alzheimer's care facility....
. It continued when she moved to San Diego and became a massage therapist and school teacher for a number of years before her children were born. Though she found serving her clients and students fulfilling, Karol decided to take a break and focus on raising her kids.
What brought Karol back to work was a discussion she had with Becky Chong about her incredible senior day program. Karol had been volunteering with hospice, providing support for caregivers of hospice patients, and could see a need for this type of program among seniors.
When asked about her work at Rebecca's Retreat, Karol says, "I love our clients' stories. Each and every one is so unique." She goes on to say how important it is for them to be heard and treated with the kindness and respect they deserve. "I love feeling that my being there has brightened someone's day and that I have made a difference in their lives". She can't say enough great things about the Retreat & Becky - who is a wonderful, compassionate mentor."
Karen and Becky met while their children attended Malmin’s preschool together... and have been great friends ever since. It was there she learned of Becky's tender loving care & heartfelt devotion to the seniors she cared for at her care facilities. She brings that same warm, compassionate and beautiful spirit to all that are blessed to be a part of The Retreat.
A California native and a twin, Karen is the proud mother of teens who attend Grossmont High School. Her son is on the golf & football team and also is a very talented driver in the Baja off - road racing circuit. Her daughter is captain of her club soccer team where she is their gifted & fearless keeper. She has a beautiful "old soul" that exudes beauty inside and out.
Karen earned her BS in BA from WVU. From there she embarked on a long, successful advertising sales career in the DC area with Dun & Bradstreet. She was promoted to a position which relocated her to the San Diego area where she has stayed ever since.
Today, Karen runs a successful consulting firm catering to small businesses and is heavily involved in philanthropic endeavors with Make-A-Wish, The Thursday Club and the heART of Mt Helix, to name a few.
Karen wishes to share that she has firsthand knowledge of the stress and strain caregiving can put on you as she watched her father care for their mother the last 5-7 years until her untimely passing in Dec 2014. She saw the toll it took on her father's health and vowed to be there for him when his health took a turn for the worst in the months following her passing.
She understands how caring for your loved one puts a lot pressure on you and which is why the retreat is so important , not just to the caregiver, but to the senior as well. It gives them a sense of purpose that they may not find at home or with others who are not in a similar mental state.
Karen jumps at any chance she gets to work at the retreat.. She enjoys interacting with the seniors and to work along side the incredible women mentioned above and is honored to be an integral part of the fabric of the retreat.