Mason’s Serenity House closes

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 27, 2010

With a heavy heart and 21 years of business behind her, Delores Gomez closed the doors of Mason’s Serenity House recently, citing the economic downturn and lack of employees for the closure.

“With the poor economy, people weren’t coming in,” she said. “It was getting to the point where revenues were less than expenses. I only had 10 people employed. But, when you think about you have to have a cook, someone on duty every shift, someone in the office and everything else, 10 people just wasn’t enough.

“Running an assisted living facility is great because you get to help people, but you really need staff,” she said.

The facility, which is licensed for 16 residents, had been operating at less than half of its capacity for the last four months, Gomez said.

Of the seven residents, only one went to assisted living, the others went to nursing homes or back to their families, she said.

While closing the doors of the family business was hard, Gomez said she has enjoyed every minute of the last 21 years.

“It’s a business my dad had as a nursing home years ago,” she said. “At first my emotions were high, but you just can’t keep going with those finances. I feel like I’ve served the community.”

Gomez said when she opened 21 years ago, after some three years of preparing, she was the first assisted living facility in Covington County and the surrounding areas.

Gomez worked in a government position in Washington, D.C., before moving back to Andalusia to start the assisted living facility, and that’s where she found out about these facilities.

“I found out about (assisted living) when I was in Washington, D.C.,” she said. “It was an easy thing to start. If I hadn’t of had my Washington experience, it wouldn’t have worked.”

Gomez said she tried her best to be give all the residents person-to-person care, and that’s something the residents said they appreciated.

“I’ve received letters from former residents thanking me for the care they received,” she said. “I have no regrets.”

Right now, Gomez is working to figure out a plan for what to do next.

“I will reopen. This business will not just sit here,” she said. “I have to have the finances to start up. Right now, I’m trying to see what I can get into to meet the finances. I might even do a book, but this building won’t be just sitting here.”