Keely Freeman's Grandparents All Live at Holiday
Keely Freeman didn’t exactly have the easiest start in life, but the 18-year-old server refuses to let that hold her back. Born into poverty in India and adopted when she was 2 years old, Keely struggled to find a place within her adoptive family and their rural Arkansas town. When a teacher suggested she apply for a position at Holiday Retirement’s Butterfield Place in Fort Smith, Arkansas, the high school senior found more than just a part-time job - she found an unexpected sense of belonging and joy.
“Butterfield is my extended family now,” says Keely, who has worked at the community since July 2018. “They have changed my life.”
Keely started as a junior server, but her impact already extends far beyond the kitchen. She looks at the job as an amazing learning opportunity, with the most enriching part nurturing the bonds she shares with residents at Butterfield Place.
“I love my job as a server because it’s more than just serving food to the residents. It’s investing in the opportunities for relationships and learning,” says Keely. “I have been a part of some precious moments for our residents and their families.”
Keely likes to say that she has hundreds of grandparents, and she’s right. In fact, her connections with residents are so numerous that she finds it hard to pick any one relationship as more special than the others. Everyone at Butterfield Place is her family, including Bob and Mary, a husband and wife with a fondness for India who have come to view Keely as a granddaughter. Bob often regales her with stories of days spent on the subcontinent in his youth and promises that they will dance together at her wedding someday.
“They warm my heart,” Keely says. “I learn so much from them because they have so many experiences and stories from their lives. They bless me daily.”
Just as the residents help to bring out the best in Keely, she tries to share the experience with her schoolmates. The honor student and student council member organizes volunteer opportunities for her fellow students to spend time at Butterfield Place. Keely makes a difference in the world by inspiring her peers to share a meal with servicemen and women on Veterans Day, attend the community’s spring dance and even call out numbers for bingo.
Like all of us, Keely could choose to focus on life’s challenges, but instead she chooses joy every day at Butterfield Place. She treasures the connections she’s built and the extended family she’s found. Keely will graduate from high school soon and, when she does, she plans to enroll in a local college so she can stay close to her newfound friends and continue to grow professionally.
“I look up to them, and they truly care about me,” she says. “It’s more than just a job. It’s part of my life.”
We believe in the power of lasting friendships. If you’re considering senior living options, get in touch to meet some future friends in our community and find out why you belong at Holiday Retirement.