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'Best decision we ever made'

October 27, 2020

Family ties make Cedar Crest an intergenerational choice

Ann and Tom Skrabonja were not yet ready to retire when they first received a flyer in the mail advertising a luncheon event at Cedar Crest, an Erickson Living-managed retirement community in Pequannock Township, N.J. Ann, who worked in accounts payable for a board of education, and Tom, an electronic technician for Hewlett-Packard, decided to take the drive from their home in New Milford, N.J. to check it out anyway.

On a whim, they invited Ann's mom Mary Franki to join them. As Ann describes it, her mother was a lifelong "city girl" living in Queens, and they didn't think she would be interested in moving to Cedar Crest. Upon their visit, Ann and Tom loved the community immediately, and to their surprise, Ann's mom loved it as well.

After her sister, who had lived nearby in Queens, passed away, Mary moved to Cedar Crest. She quickly made friends and became involved in the community. Tom and Ann visited her mother there frequently over the years and also attended events for prospective residents.

All in the family

Mary happily lived at Cedar Crest until she passed away in 2017. The following year, Ann and Tom decided they were ready to make the move to Cedar Crest themselves.

According to Cedar Crest Sales Director Ray Guarino, familial connections are how many residents become acquainted with the community. "When family members come to visit their loved ones at Cedar Crest, they get a firsthand experience of what living here is like. It's very common for siblings, sons, daughters, and other relatives to follow a family member to Cedar Crest," says Guarino.

Moving help

Before moving day, Cedar Crest Personal Moving Consultant Anne Connor came to the Skrabonjas' home to help them determine which furniture would fit in their new apartment home.

"She came with a magnetic board that helped show how our furniture would fit the layout. She made some great suggestions, and that was very helpful," says Ann.

Active retirement

"We had some very mild trepidation at first in that it was difficult to see ourselves as 'old enough' for a retirement community, but there's so much to do, and everyone is so active here, we now see it as the best decision we ever made," says Ann.

The Skrabonjas are glad that they moved to Cedar Crest at a relatively young age so that they can fully take advantage of all the community has to offer. They enjoy playing bocce, and Tom attends mediation sessions on campus. Tom frequently worked out at Cedar Crest's fitness center before it was closed to comply with safety guidance to help stop the spread of coronavirus, and he looks forward to going back now that it is reopened.

Convenience and safety

Especially during the pandemic, Ann and Tom were more grateful than ever to be living at Cedar Crest.

"I can't imagine how it would be if we were still living on our own during this difficult time," says Ann. "We'd have to risk going out in public to the supermarket and for other essentials. Here, we just call and order our groceries, and they bring it to our doorstep. It's charged to our account, and we get one bill at the end of the month. It couldn't be easier."

When any type of problem arises, help is just a quick phone call away. For example, the Skrabonjas' sink was clogged during the pandemic, and Cedar Crest maintenance staff arrived in protective gear to repair it.

"I didn't have to call an outside contractor and worry about someone without protective gear entering my home and possibly exposing us to the virus," says Ann. "It was very reassuring, and the repair was made immediately."

The Skrabonjas have been impressed and comforted by all the precautions Cedar Crest has taken to keep residents safe and healthy. Masks are mandatory for staff and residents on campus, and adjustments have been made to make it easier to practice social distancing in common areas while still allowing residents to safely enjoy campus amenities.

Tom recently sustained a minor injury and was grateful that rehabilitation services were conveniently available on campus.

"He could get to rehab in three minutes from our front door, so it was great that we didn't have to go offsite for his needed care," says Ann. Ann says that those considering Cedar Crest shouldn't hesitate because they think they're "too young."

Two years after moving to Cedar Crest, the Skrabonjas couldn't be happier with their decision. They highly recommend anyone who is curious about the community to come for a visit, and they're confident they'll fall in love with everything it has to offer, just like they did.

Sales Director Ray Guarino says many people move to Cedar Crest each year after learning about the vibrant retirement lifestyle from a friend or relative.

"A resident who is content living at Cedar Crest will share and want others to enjoy life as they do," Guarino says.

To learn more about Cedar Crest, visit

Written by Kate Streit