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‘A new beginning’

Union City woman loses house to fire, finds new home at Cedar Crest

Created date

January 22nd, 2015
Norma Bodtmann in her Brighton-style apartment home at Cedar Crest. “I always in my heart wanted to live at Cedar Crest,” she says.
Norma Bodtmann in her Brighton-style apartment hom

As Norma Bodtmann watched flames engulf her house of 82 years, she not only looked back at a lifetime of memories, but forward to a new life ahead. 

The Union City, N.J., house had been home to four generations of her family. She grew up there, raised her children there, and at the time—last January—lived there with one of her sons. 

“There’s a lot of memories, but you have to move forward,” Norma says. And she did.

A few months after the house fire, Norma revisited Crest, the Erickson Living community in Pompton Plains that she had visited ten years prior. “I decided to move to Cedar Crest ten years ago,” she says. “But at the time, I would have had to sell my house.”

Norma was reluctant to sell her house not only because of its generations of memories, but also because her son lived upstairs. Without the house, her dream of living at Cedar Crest was renewed. 

A new home

“I always in my heart wanted to come here. It was always a big dream,” she says, recalling that she had become lonesome in Union City as more and more of her friends moved or passed away. 

When Norma revisited Cedar Crest with her granddaughter after the fire, “I fell in love with it all over again. The people are wonderful, and everybody is so friendly,” she says.

She worked with Sales Associates Lee Valentine and Margarete Hastings, along with her insurance company and a financial advisor to find the right apartment for her lifestyle and budget. 

“They [Lee and Margarete] knew my situation, so they showed me around, showed me different apartments, until I found the right one,” Norma recalls. “The money was tight because I had lost everything; I had to start all fresh. But they did everything they could to get me in here so I could afford it.”

“I was in touch with Norma for a couple of months prior to her move to Cedar Crest, when she was still living with her son and daughter-in-law after the fire. I was so touched by Norma’s strength after she lost everything to the fire. She is such a fighter,” says Hastings. 

“When I finally met her,” Hastings continues, “we just had a connection. I assured her that she would be living here at Cedar Crest. She was beyond thrilled! Norma, her son Bob, and I worked closely to find Norma her perfect home. 

Norma chose the third apartment they showed her: a one-bedroom Brighton floor plan on the fourth floor and between two of the three clubhouses. “I fell in love with this one,” she says. “I have a view of the mountain. It’s perfect for me.”

After choosing her apartment home, Norma shopped for furniture with the help of Anne Connor, Cedar Crest’s personal moving consultant. Connor helped her with furniture measurements and layout. “Little by little, it made itself into a home again,” Norma says.

Anticipating each new day

Norma finally moved to Cedar Crest in May 2014, four months after the three-alarm fire made her house uninhabitable. 

“Everyone rallied around me. I have made more friends here than I could have ever imagined,” Norma says. 

The flashbacks have started to fade, and she now looks forward to each new day.

She has begun to get involved with some of Cedar Crest’s numerous activities, including Bible study and Polish poker, and is finding the community to be everything she dreamed it would be. 

‘Most inspiring place’

“I have something to look forward to every day here. This is the most inspiring place you could be,” she says. “It’s a new beginning.”

Norma—a positive and uplifting person herself—fits right in. 

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