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 Jennifer Kellman talks with Lloyd Suter, a participant at the Brown Center in West Bloomfield Township. Kellman is marking 20 years as a site supervisor at the program, which cares for people living with dementia.

Jennifer Kellman talks with Lloyd Suter, a participant at the Brown Center in West Bloomfield Township. Kellman is marking 20 years as a site supervisor at the program, which cares for people living with dementia.

Photo by Patricia’s O’Blenes


Reflecting on 20 years of caring at local program for dementia patients

By: Andy Kozlowski | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published March 12, 2020

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WEST BLOOMFIELD — Compassion has defined the career of Jennifer Kellman, a resident of Commerce Township who this April marks 20 years working as a site supervisor at the Dorothy and Peter Brown Jewish Community Adult Day Program in West Bloomfield Township.

The facility at 6720 W. Maple Road offers individualized programs for people living with dementia. Operated by JVS Human Services and Jewish Senior Life — both based in the metro Detroit area — the Brown Center has maintained low turnover rates since opening in 2000. This, in turn, has allowed staff to forge long-term bonds with the program’s participants.

“I’ve been very fortunate to have formed many beautiful friendships with both the participants and their families,” Kellman said in an email. “It’s hard to not think of our participants as an extended part of my family. I feel that my life is better for it. The unconditional love and appreciation they give makes every day a good day.

“Dementia affects everyone differently,” she added. “I believe that even while someone is living with the diagnosis of dementia, they can still live their life to the fullest.”

Kellman discovered her career path well before the Brown Center, during her first job in high school, when she was employed in the dietary department of a local nursing home, which gave her the opportunity to mingle with the elderly residents.

She was also inspired by her own family: Her aunt was a physician’s assistant at a nursing home in Howell, and her grandmother was a geriatric nurse. Even as a teen, Kellman was involved in caring for the elderly, assisting her grandmother at work.

This led her to pursue a bachelor’s degree in gerontology, the study of aging. Fast-forward to today, and Kellman has made caring for this vulnerable population her life’s work.

“When you work at the Brown Center, it’s best to begin each day knowing that every day will be different from the last,” Kellman said. “Sometimes we may be running a program that in the past was successful and today, for whatever reason, it’s not. In moments like these, we are always ready to switch gears and run a different program that keeps our participants engaged.”

She said she encourages others to consider her field if they find helping others fulfilling.

“I feel to be successful in this career, you must be a kind, caring and compassionate person,” Kellman said. “Patience is very important. Be open to sharing your heart with those you are caring for, as they will be sharing their heart with you.”

She also recommends volunteering at a local nursing home, assisted living facility or day program to get a sense of the responsibilities involved.

Debra Yamstein — the vice president of nonvocational and senior adult services at JVS Human Services — said that Kellman is a “shining example of what is right in caring for others.”

“She’s always patient with participants and goes the extra mile to make sure that (participants, caregivers and staff) are comfortable, connected and engaged,” Yamstein said in an email. “She is passionate about her work, and a strong advocate for the people she supports. Jen is focused on what people are capable of, rather than what they have lost, and she reminds me to slow down and enjoy the special connections that we build at the Brown Center.”

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