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Bonnie Berthiaume, a much beloved resident at the Leonard Florence Center for Living (LFCL), was diagnosed with MS (multiple sclerosis) 36 years ago. Although the disease progressed and Bonnie is confined to a wheelchair, she is more active than ever. Bonnie, who will turn a young 70 this June, has gone skydiving three times, speaks on behalf of the Center, and enjoys frequent outings to the mall, casinos, and restaurants. She also relishes the lively camaraderie at mealtimes with the residents in the dining area outside her private room. The LFCL is the country’s first urban model Green House® skilled nursing facility.

For Bonnie, the hardest part of her MS diagnosis was the fear of losing her independence. As a former daycare center owner, Bonnie was constantly on the go – apple picking, sledding, playing games. Closing her business was extremely difficult. Bonnie then moved into a traditional nursing home once she could no longer care for herself. Here she shared a shower room with 40 people. Nine months later, Bonnie moved into the Center after it opened in 2010. “Living at the Leonard Florence Center is a stark contrast from my first nursing home,” explained Bonnie. “Here I can feel young again,” adding that, “I refuse to get old!”

When asked about her philosophy, Bonnie offered a Laura Wilder quote she shares with her grandchildren. “Remember me with smiles and laughter as that’s how I’ll remember all of you. If you only remember me with tears and sadness, then don’t remember me at all.”

These days Bonnie keeps busy with activities, friends, and the joy of living each day to the fullest. “The Leonard Florence Center gave me back my dignity and respect,” said Bonnie. “Truly, the staff and residents are like my extended family. I am thankful every day that this is my home.”