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Match made in New Providence

Lantern Hill becomes a family affair

Created date

April 13th, 2017
Kathleen and Edward Ryan celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in January with a family celebration. At right, Kathleen and Edward on their wedding day.

Kathleen and Edward Ryan celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in January with a family celebration. At right, Kathleen and Edward on their wedding day.

Like the warm glow of a streetlamp, love for Lantern Hill has spread quickly to families and friends throughout Union County, N.J., over the past year. One family, in particular, has been touched by the Erickson Living community’s caring and active lifestyle across generations.

When Kathleen and Edward Ryan decided to trade their two-floor condo in Scotch Plains, N.J., for one-level, worry-free living at Lantern Hill, they were thinking about themselves, not their daughter Gerri Madsen. But it seems their decision not only changed their lives, it changed Gerri’s as well.

One-level living

“We had heard about Lantern Hill and thought it would be something we’d be interested in,” Kathleen says. “We came and looked at it and like it very much, so we joined the priority list and were very excited to move in.” 

Joining the priority list is simple. Anyone interested in living someday at an Erickson Living community can pay a fully refundable $1,000 deposit and a $150-per-person, nonrefundable application fee. Once this deposit is made, the date is noted as the member’s priority list date. Members are encouraged to select a preferred floor plan that, once available, will be offered to them with the right of first refusal based on their joining date. 

There is no penalty should the preferred apartment home become available before a prospective resident is ready to move. It is simply offered to the next member on the list, and the priority list status remains the same.

Because Kathleen and Edward joined when the construction of Lantern Hill was first announced to the surrounding community, they had first choice of apartment homes. They selected an extra-large Wentworth floor plan that gives them plenty of space to host their eight children and their families. “We have a large family, so we’re always used to a lot of space,” Kathleen says.

Despite the extra living space, what they appreciate most is one-level living. Had they stayed in their condo, they might have had to install a chair lift, something they did temporarily in the past and didn’t want to repeat. 

“Having everything on one floor makes it so much easier,” Kathleen says. No more trips up and down the stairs with loads of laundry or to grab something to eat. In fact, she doesn’t even have to cook if she doesn’t want to. At Lantern Hill she can place a to-go order and pick it up via elevator and a close indoor walk.

Even their finances are more convenient. All utilities, a flexible meal plan, and weekly housekeeping are included in the affordable fixed monthly fee, which also includes secure Wi-Fi, and each apartment home has ready access to the Internet. 

“You don’t have all of these extra maintenance bills and tax bills. It makes it very convenient to have just one,” Kathleen says.

Well suited

With such a large family, Kathleen and Edward’s conveniences translate to less burden on their children. Among their eight children, seven have settled along the East Coast from Virginia to New York. 

Their daughter Gerri Madsen lives in New Providence, just one mile from Lantern Hill. 

“The minute the property was purchased, I knew about it,” Madsen says of the site where Lantern Hill now sits. Yet, she confirms, “Their decision had nothing to do with me. They had been on the priority list for a number of years.”

As it turns out, the exclusive priority member events her parents attended at Lantern Hill opened the doors to a new and exciting career for her. “I had attended many of their information sessions, and on one of them I ended up answering a question about the area. The salesperson said, ‘You should work here,’ so I sort of filed that away,” Madsen says.

As Lantern Hill became more of a reality and the community began hiring, Madsen began seriously considering her options. Though she found her position at an outreach program for women with cancer very rewarding, she also found it emotionally challenging. 

“The concierge position at Lantern Hill was a really great opening for me,” she says. “I hear it from all the residents how the staff is really the gem of the community—everyone is caring and helpful, and it really makes a difference in how they’re living their life.”

As concierge, Madsen assists residents with establishing interest groups, clubs, and other activities, such as scheduling day and overnight trips. She is also responsible for pastoral activities, volunteerism, and philanthropy. 

“It’s great that Gerri works here. Days go by when I don’t even see her. She is very well suited for the job, and I’m glad about that,” says Kathleen.

Madsen loves everything about her job: the proximity to her parents, the lifestyle she’s helping provide to residents, the peace of mind that her parents are in good hands, and yes, the two-minute commute.