April 28, 2017 01:25AM
By Brooke Constance White
Sun staff writer
MYSTIC — Aileen Mulligan was one of the first people to put her name on the waiting list for an apartment at the long-anticipated Masonicare at Mystic retirement community.
Although it was two years before the $45 million facility opened and she was able to move in, she said Tuesday afternoon during a grand opening ceremony that it was well worth the wait.
“My husband died some years ago and I was having difficulties running the house and doing the gardening, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to drive much longer,” she said. “As soon as I heard about Masonicare and had looked into it, I knew it was where I should be. It was a long wait but the decision to come here was a wise one.”
During the event, which drew a crowd of more than 100, the 53 residents who are already moved into the 179-unit facility on Clara Drive stood up and applauded the opening.
Jon-Paul Venoit, of Wallingford, president and CEO of Masonicare, said it’s been a long journey and he was thrilled the facility is open and welcoming new residents.
“The last time Masonicare opened a new community was in 1985 and we were in the midst of Hurricane Gloria,” he laughed. “To get to this day, we’ve had an amazing group of people working hard to bring this state-of-the-art senior living community to fruition.”
Along with the 81 independent living apartments, 50 assisted living units and 48 memory-care units, the 29,000-square-foot facility has a cafe/bistro, pub, indoor saltwater pool, hair salon and fitness center. Margaret Steeves, vice president for marketing and communications, said the high ceilings and openness of the facility helps to make the community feel less institutional and more like home. Rent ranges from $3,000 for the independent units to $6,000 for the assisted-living units and can vary based on amenities and dining plans. There are nurses at the facility and transportation to medical appointments is provided.
Bob Polito Jr., of Madison, chairman of the Masonicare board of trustees, said he’s proud of what they’ve built for the community and is excited to see people putting deposits on the remaining open units.
“We’ve been a nonprofit for more than 100 years and are open to all, not just the Masons,” he said. “We’re passionate about senior living and believe in providing the highest quality of life.”
As a Mason, First Selectman Rob Simmons, expressed his admiration for the facility and offered the town’s continued support and services whenever needed. He shared a quote from the Connecticut Grand Master’s 2016-17 appeal about seeking to be better members of society and leaving the world better than we found it.
“When I look around this place and I see the comfort it brings to the residents who need a safe, healthy and high quality place to live, I believe that Masonicare at Mystic is a reflection of the Grand Master’s vision,” he said. “I congratulate my brothers who have lived up to the ideals of Freemasonry, which is, simply stated, ‘brothers helping brothers.’ ”
One resident, Dorothy Atkinson, a longtime Stonington resident, said she had heard a lot of good things about Masonicare and was eager to sign up when the community was first made aware of the project in 2014. “I love it here,” she said. “I was one of the first to move in. I’ve made a lot of friends and the management does everything they can to please the residents.”
Now that Mulligan is settled into the community after moving in late last fall, she said she’s been making friends, participating in a book club, painting in the art studio and taking field trips. “It was a good move,” she said. “I’m so glad I came here. I was never bored before and I know I’ll never be bored living here.”