5 things you didn't know about Sharon Sullivan

By NIKKI ROWELL,

1. She is an avid reader. She reads several books each week.

2. Most of her career background is in real estate and development.

3. When she isn’t working, you could likely find her in the kitchen. Cooking is a hobby for Sullivan.

4. She also likes to spend time out on the water, particularly when she is saltwater fishing.

5. Despite moving around a bit for work, Sullivan has lived in Jackson for most of her life.

Sharon Sullivan has found her niche, as she works to ensure the best quality of life for those she serves.

Sullivan became the Executive Director at The Orchard in Ridgeland following an extensive career in real estate and development.

“When I can help make their lives a little bit better, that’s something that has been a privilege for me to be able to do,” Sullivan said. “There’s a lot of joy and a lot of reward. It’s all about, during their golden years, giving them a better quality of life.”

Sullivan’s workday begins at 6 a.m. and ends around 4 p.m. each day. However, the tasks that fill those hours vary from day to day.

“It could be construction-related, as we’re building a new facility next door,” she said. “My independent residents have breakfast around 7 a.m., so I usually go in and start refilling their coffee cups. It’s a way to let them know that I’m here, and I’m concerned about their well-being.”

Three days a week, staff members gather in the office for meetings about what is going on across the campus.

“I’m involved in every aspect,” she said. “I work with the department heads. I work with the nurses. I work with book-keeping and personnel. My day is varied.”

The Orchard is a continuing care retirement community, with independent and assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing facilities.

The 17-acre facility houses approximately 250 residents, and there are more than 200 employees on staff.

At the Orchard, there are a wide variety of activities, services and social opportunities going on throughout the day. There is something for everyone, from book clubs to exercise classes.

Wellness classes include breathing exercises, chair yoga and arthritis chair workouts.

Guest speakers stop by to give lectures on topics that residents are interested in, and religious services and bible studies are available.

“All the churches in the area have really taken an interest in our spiritual activities here,” Sullivan said.

Common rooms are transformed daily, with puzzles, bridge games, mix-and-mingle social events and more. They also have a fully stocked library and salon.

Although there is usually more than enough going on at The Orchard to keep residents entertained, they organize regular trips for residents to go to the opera, New Stage Theater performances, special events at Thalia Mara and concerts at Christ United Methodist Church.

Chef Michael Moore serves up all of the meals at The Orchard, with a dining room that Sullivan said was specifically designed to feel like home.

“There’s a good spirit here,” Sullivan said. “I think we do have a beautiful facility, but the true beauty of The Orchard is with the people who live here.”

Construction is currently underway on The Orchard’s new memory-care facility, which will increase the number of available slots, allow for further memory-care and allow memory-care to accommodate male residents.

Sullivan said they expect to begin accepting residents a year from now.

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1. She took her first ceramics class at seven years old at Pickenpaugh Pottery. 2. She and her father got their black belts in Tae Kwon Do together.