Era Living – How it Started vs. How it’s Going
Eli and Rebecca Almo were working in property development in the mid-1980s when they first considered opening a retirement living community. Inspired by their deeply-held belief that all older adults should be treated with honor and respect, they set out to nurture an organization that would serve older adults with compassionate, professional care and high-quality programs, services, and amenities. The new business (initially called ERA Care) needed a building.
The dream began in 1987 by collaborating with the Seattle Education Auxiliary to buy Ida Culver House Ravenna. It was agreed to keep the name intact in order to honor Ida Culver, a pioneer who created a retirement community for teachers. (This foreshadowed Era Living’s future partnership with the University of Washington Retirement Association!)
Honor, respect, and high-quality care continued to drive the mission as more communities joined the Era Living family:
1995: The Lakeshore
2008: Aljoya Mercer Island
2009: Aljoya Thornton Place
As Era Living grew, the Almos found several ways to keep residents supported and connected to the greater Seattle community. Partnerships were initiated with world-famous leaders in gerontology at the University of Washington: the School of Social Work, the School of Pharmacy, and the School of Nursing. Today, these collaborations continue to benefit Era Living residents with access to continued learning programs, innovative social services, cutting-edge breakthroughs in medicine, and active aging programs.
In accordance with the commitment to treat all older adults with honor and respect, Era Living also extends financial support to organizations that support seniors who choose to stay in their homes. As a long-time sponsor of NEST (North East Seattle Together) and PNA Village (Phinney Neighborhood Association Village), Era Living values social connection for all older adults and will continue to sponsor these valuable organizations.
Now beginning its 37th year, serving the greater PNW region, there’s no slowing down for Era Living. Voted one of the “Best Senior Community” winners in the Seattle Times Best in the PNW competition, Era Living is committed to excellence and continues to focus on quality of life for residents. Ida Culver House Ravenna will be rebuilt from the ground up in the near future. And Era Living has received numerous other accolades for excellence in care, compassionate staff, and innovative programs: Caring.com (the nation’s top resource for trustworthy senior care ratings and reviews) awarded multiple-year “Caring Stars” to University House Issaquah and Ida Culver House Broadview. Nextdoor.com granted its “Neighborhood Fave Award” to The Lakeshore and Ida Culver House Broadview. And Reputation.com has presented its “800 Award” for outstanding customer satisfaction to University House Wallingford.
Marla Becker, Executive Director of Aljoya Mercer Island, has witnessed this resident-first focus during her 30+ years with Era Living. When asked about the dedication that has gone into building this company, she said:
As a small company, we have had a large impact on the industry. We have always (and continue to) lived our mission statement, “To respect and honor older adults while enhancing the quality of their lives.” Many companies say, “Residents come first” but I know from my years with Era that we never waiver from this important mission.
As we stand on the cusp of a new year, we celebrate the remarkable journey of Rebecca and Eli Almo, the visionary founders of Era Living. Over decades, their unwavering dedication has transformed a dream into a vibrant reality – the creation of retirement living communities that radiate warmth and respect for older adults. Marla Becker’s words echo the pride felt within Era Living communities:
I am proud to say I work at an Era Living community because we also value our staff who are on the front line of delivering services to seniors, day in and day out. We know that without their commitment, we could not fulfill the mission.