Tradition runs strong this Thanksgiving season for Eileen Parenti, Executive Director of Renaissance Adult Day Services, as she prepares for a special Thanksgiving celebration on Tuesday, November 25, 2014 from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Parenti is bringing her mom, Betty Lockwood, 80, and Betty is bringing her famous apple cake called “Betty’s Blessing” to share with guests at the Bronx location of Renaissance Adult Day Services at 787 East 156th Street. Senator Diaz will be joining the Thanksgiving celebration that is highlighted by this special dessert.
Parenti’s family history is quite remarkable for a woman who works daily in the field of senior living. Her grandmother, Margaret Schneider, ran the smallest licensed nursing home in the State of New Jersey from 1946 to 1966 out of her 18-room Victorian home located in Dunellen, NJ. She raised her five children in this house, including Parenti’s mother, Betty Lockwood. Lockwood and her siblings helped their mother care for the residents by bringing them meals, helping them eat and simply spending time with them. Lockwood says her mother “gave love to the residents, not a lot of medicine. They felt content because they knew they were cared for.”
This is how Lockwood chose to raise Parenti and her five brothers and sisters. “When I got married and had kids of my own, I’d bring them to meet the residents regularly, it was as if they had nine grandparents. My kids didn’t grow up with a lot of material things but they had a lot of love and friendship.” Parenti has continued the family tradition of caring for others in her work as Executive Director for Renaissance Home Health Care and Adult day Services. She also is a current member of the New Jersey, Nursing Home Administrators Licensing Board and participates on the education committee for the Health Care Association.
The family home was not always intended to be a nursing home. Schneider originally bought the home to be a bakery that she ran with her sister when the family tradition of baking began. Unfortunately, Schneider was burned and while she survived with no scars, she was unable to continue the bakery. Instead, she began taking war brides into her home during World War II as they were located near Camp Kilmer in Piscataway, NJ. After the war, a woman who worked with the state asked Schneider to take in an elderly man and a woman with ulcerated legs. She then coaxed Schneider into getting her nursing home license and the family tradition of caring for people was born.
Lockwood believes that baking is simply another way to care for people. “That’s why when I bake, I bake with love. While I’m baking I say my prayers and have my rosary on. I put blessed salt in the cake and a tablespoon of holy water to bless the people who receive the cake.”
Schneider and Lockwood used to bake for everyone. They started baking the Apple Cake when people came to visit. They would pick the apples from their Victory Garden. Lockwood has since simplified the recipe and Parenti has named it “Betty’s Blessing”. Lockwood will make more than 50 cakes this holiday season, not including the cakes she will bring to Renaissance.
Lockwood lived in the house in Dunellen, NJ for 52 years, first for 21 years with her mother and siblings and then for 31 years when she and her husband bought the house to raise their family in. Lockwood knows that Schneider “would have been thrilled with Eileen’s success in the field. She is sitting on board,” she said proudly, “that my mother had applied to when she turned our home into the nursing home.”
About Renaissance Home Health Care and Adult Day Services:
All Renaissance Home Health Care and Adult Day Services offer a full range of individualized services that promote social, physical, and emotional well-being through their home health care and adult day locations serving all five boroughs in NY. Their Signature Touches philosophy reflects the company’s goal of providing compassionate, professional, and skilled services in the comfort of one’s own home or in a clean, nurturing environment. For more information, visit www.renaissancehcs.com.