New View Apartments Focuses on Support, Independence
A winding, mountain road leads to New View Apartments, a gray-sided building tucked along a wooded bend on Tryon’s Carson Street. For over 35 years, Monarch’s New View, a supported living model, has been called “home” by adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) who want to live independently on their terms.
Today, New View, in North Carolina’s Polk County, is home to eight residents who are diagnosed with I/DD and/or mental illness. The residence was established by the family of former resident, Becky Bridgewood, opening its doors in 1987.
New View Residential Manager Donna Erskine has worked at Monarch for over 30 years, celebrating the milestone in August. Her smile and encouraging words for residents have been a constant at the Monarch location. The residents sing her praises – and look to her for advice, guidance and support.
She takes the celebration in stride and would rather talk about the New View residents and their successes. Many have lived at the apartment complex for more than 20 years. Resident Edna Waller was the first resident moving in on opening day in 1987.
In 1992, Donna started at New View as a volunteer after visiting the location with her husband, David. Not long after, she was offered the opportunity to work part-time to help out while a staff member was on leave. As fate would have it, the employee did not return and Donna has been employed at New View ever since.
Through the years, New View residents have grown up with Donna’s children and saw her through her husband’s illness and death. After her husband’s funeral, she was advised to take all the time she needed. However, she quickly returned to work.
“It was like being with my family,” she recalls of feeling like her place was with the residents even when dealing with grief. Her husband had managed the Omni Grove Park Inn (formerly Grove Park Inn) in Asheville for 15 years before his illness took hold.
New View Behavioral Specialist Leslie Richardson assists Donna with overseeing and coordinating services for residents, outings to restaurants, community errands and holiday celebrations. Donna says there really is no typical day but she completes any documentation, attends online meetings, resolves building emergencies as well as coordinates resident’s needs like scheduling appointments or establishing personal goals. Challenges of her job include adapting to ever-changing government regulations.
The most rewarding part of her role is the time she spends with the residents. “I consider my real job spending one-on-one time with the residents,” Donna says, noting that a fun part of her job is helping them furnish their apartments or shop for clothes.
The most important aspect that Donna’s role has taught her is patience: “It is so rewarding watching them grow. They teach me as much as we teach them.”
Leslie explains that New View is considered a teaching residence where individuals learn about healthy nutrition, exercise and the skills needed to live independently. One or two nights each week the residents have dinner together in the main dining room on the first floor, next to the main office.
Resident Dorothy Tatnall, who has lived at New View for over 20 years, says she wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. “She is very good to us. She is fun. She is a good manager,” she states gratefully.
Dorothy’s guardian and step-mother, Donna Tatnall, says staff provide individualized care. “She is very patient, yet establishes boundaries. She is an excellent communicator. She and I have partnered in caring for Dorothy. She is open to any concerns I have and open with me about concerns that she has. That is communication that I value,” she shares about Donna Erskine.
Corinne Tribou moved to New View after her parents retired to Tryon. “I like all the friends that I have made and having my own space and my own apartment,” she shares.
Donna will always turn the conversation back to the residents and their successes. “They have the freedom to make decisions and decide things that they want to do. And, they are very capable,” she says of the supported living model.
Aside from their personal successes, Donna is most proud of their inclusion within the Tryon community. “Over the years, they have become part of the community. This is such a small town. We visit the same grocery store and local restaurants and we go to things downtown. They have integrated into the community so well and the community welcomes them,” she shares.
For more information about Monarch’s residential options or to virtually tour a group home, visit here.
Posted on: Wednesday September 21, 2022