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‘Crushing’ Experience Brings US Marine to Shepherd as General Manager of Its New Savannah Quarters Community

POOLER, GA–Like others who have come to work at Shepherd, it was a personal brush with “old school” assisted living that convinced Robert Todd people deserved better. But at the time he wasn’t sure what that “better” could be.

A U.S. Marine veteran, Todd was serving as regional vice president of operations for a large Southern publishing company, where he was responsible for multiple daily newspapers, more than 30 weekly publications and commercial printing for southeast Georgia and North Florida. He was challenged and happy. Then his father-in-law reached a point where he couldn’t care for himself, and it was time for “the talk.”

“As my wife and I sat down with him, he just looked at us and said, ‘Please don’t send me to one of those places where they put you in a room and forget about you.’ It crushed us,” Todd recalled.

Fortunately, he knew a friend who worked in senior living—with Shepherd, by coincidence, and that longtime friend helped him understand that things weren’t always as they seemed. “I learned that senior living doesn’t have to be what a lot of people think it is,” Todd said. “There are a lot of myths and we fell victim to them.”

The more he talked with his friend, the more he became interested in the Shepherd way. Eventually, he became so convinced Shepherd had the answer to a new breed of senior community that he realized he wanted to work there. He’s now general manager of Shepherd Living at Savannah Quarters, a new Shepherd community. Scheduled to open July 2, the community is already well on its way to full occupancy.

As is the case with any Marine, he’s a good person to have on your side. He came to Shepherd with 27 years of experience in management, marketing and finance. A Six Sigma Green Belt with a bachelor’s degree in Publication Management from the University of Georgia, he is well known throughout the Savannah, GA region.”Most people don’t think of senior living positively,” Todd said. “But now, with so many people impacted by dementia, it’s great to be working for a company that is different. I wanted to find something that I felt good about, and I believe with all my heart that the people at Shepherd are folks who care. The myths just aren’t true at Shepherd. They understand that the people who live in their communities sometimes need a little help, and that help shouldn’t come at the cost of their dignity.”

Another myth, Todd said, is that the only people who would benefit from senior community living are those dealing with dementia. “With the coming demographic wave of seniors, it’s great to create the ability for couples to intentionally downsize together and enjoy their time in our communities and traveling, rather than waiting, which can mean one spouse will have to transition on their own. No grass cutting, no home ownership hassles—just enjoying life and using the community and all its wellness and lifestyle amenities as a base for travel, which is what people deserve.”

Bottom line, he said, “Home isn’t a place you get sent, it’s where you want to be. We give people the opportunity to savor life and continue to move forward and enjoy the things they have worked for. And when that happens, family members will never again have to face the kind of conversation I had with my father-in-law.”

Located near the intersection of I-16 and Pooler Parkway, Shepherd Living at Savannah Quarters is a 124-resident community that includes two single-story buildings totaling 86,000 square feet. It’s set on 10 partially wooded acres.

Residents will enjoy a host of amenities, including gourmet farm-to-table food, fine wine storage, a full-service salon, a greenhouse and numerous gardening opportunities, private kitchens, animal therapy, extensive walking trails and landscaping throughout the large grounds, and even a tavern.

The wellness lifestyle at Shepherd Living at Savannah Quarters will include daily classes ranging from meditation and gentle yoga to aerobics and circuit training. Certain amenities, such as the spa, wellness center and classes, will be open to members of the public age 55 and older. Others, such as the restaurant and many social activities, are open to those of all ages.

Pooler Physical Therapy will provide on-site services to Shepherd Living at Savannah Quarters residents, as well as serving the needs of the broader community of all ages.