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‘It has been an honor to serve,’ Julie Tooker retires after 31 years with GracePointe Crossing

Note: In a recent edition of the County News Review, editor and reporter Rachel Kytonen published the story below. We’re grateful to Julie for her many years of service and leadership and to the County News Review for allowing us to share this story.
 
By Rachel Kytonen, editor, County News Review
December 28, 2020, Republished with permission
 
After having developed friendships and relationships that will last for the rest of her life, Julie Tooker is retiring from GracePointe Crossing after 31 years of service.

GracePointe Crossing was known as Grandview Christian Home when Tooker started in the business office in 1989. She has served in many capacities during her tenure with the organization.

“At the time we were Grandview Christian Home, and because of its reputation and faith-filled mission, it was the only place I wanted to work,” Tooker said. “I was promoted to business office manager, then to finance director, then to chief financial officer. When we affiliated with Presbyterian Homes & Services in 2007, we became GracePointe Crossing. I then served as campus administrator and then moved into my current role of community relations director in 2010.

“The role in community relations has definitely been my sweet spot. ... I have loved every minute of it. I have developed friendships and relationships that will last for the rest of my life. Who would not enjoy having that blessing? I love sharing about GracePointe Crossing and what we have to offer. I believe God has blessed us, with such great attention to detail and relationship building, across the entire campus,” she added.

Tooker said she has been thinking about retiring for a couple of years and felt the timing was right.

“My husband Earl has been retired for a number of years already, and I am ready to join him,” Tooker said. “I came across this quote and plan to live my next chapter of life with this in mind: ‘A thriving new beginning can be and should be a time for amazing engagement, growth, connection, contributions and amazing possibilities,’ which is a quote from Lee M. Brower.”

Greg Carlson, special project director of Presbyterian Homes and Services, has enjoyed his time working with Tooker.

“Without question, a highlight of my career with Grandview Christian Ministries (GracePointe Crossing) was having the privilege of serving older adults along with a wonderful team and competent co-workers, the likes of Julie Tooker,” Carlson said. “Julie’s contributions to the success of GracePointe Crossing are many, but more than anything else I am most proud and grateful for her deep faith, love and compassion for those served, optimism, cheerfulness, and her infectious sense of humor. We were all blessed to have served with Julie on the team.”

Carlson first came to know Tooker during her initial job interview for the position of director of finance with Grandview Christian Home.

“We were striving to fill this role at a time when computerized medical records and accounting systems were fairly new to provider organizations, and rapidly changing,” Carlson said “By the time the interview concluded, it was abundantly clear that Julie was well suited to lead the department, its staff, and a host of new initiatives in-the-planning, and I am pleased to say, she did so with integrity, competence, and grace.”

During Tooker’s role as community relations director, she worked with many different community organizations, including Family Pathways.

“Julie’s leadership is second to none. She loves and supports this community with her whole heart and soul,” said Jayne Mund, caregiver consultant with Family Pathways. “Working alongside Julie is inspiring, encouraging and motivating. She possesses innate leadership skills that makes things happen. Her compassion and empathy for others and the belief in the people around her is an unstoppable combination. I will miss her dearly.”

Tooker has enjoyed each and every person she has worked with at GracePointe Crossing.

“The staff at GracePointe Crossing are more than amazing. The love and care they provide to those who call GPC home, is phenomenal,” Tooker said. “There are a number of staff that have worked here for a long time, even much longer than me. It is a calling to be a part of this great team. In fear of leaving someone out, I do not want to mention names, but I would like to thank them all for the dedicated work and care they provide day in and day out. The leadership is also top notch and have huge hearts.” Tooker became close with many of the people she worked with.

“Julie’s ministry to GracePointe Crossing has been a gift to those she has served including residents, families, staff and the community,” said Molly Carlson, GracePointe Crossing housing counselor. “I will miss her but know I am a better person because I had the opportunity to work alongside such a wonderful teammate and friend.”

Tooker’s colleagues at GracePointe Crossing are hoping Tooker has an enjoyable retirement.

“GracePointe Crossing has been blessed by the number of years of service that Julie Tooker has given,” said Brandi Barthel, campus administrator of GracePointe Crossing. “Her knowledge and deep connectedness with the community will be missed. We are excited for this next chapter in her journey and pray for peace and comfort.”

Tooker has appreciated the many partnerships GracePointe Crossing has formed with other organizations in the area.

“Cambridge and the east central area are a close-knit group of community members. There are so many collaborations, partnerships and teams that work very well together. It is really one of our community strengths. I do not think too many communities have the same kind of dedication,” Tooker said. “I have been honored to serve alongside so many great community members and have learned so much from them. In particular being the team lead for the Cambridge ACT on Alzheimer’s and facilitator for the East Central Senior Network have definitely been a couple of my favorite groups.”

Tooker feels it was an honor to be a part of GracePointe Crossing.

“I consider the residents at GPC to be good friends of mine, some are more like family,” Tooker said. “Because I have worked here so long, some of the staff that I worked with years ago have since become residents here. I consider my time here as a gift that God has given me. I have been privileged to be a part of the residents’ lives.”

Tooker said she worked for GracePointe Crossing for so many years because of the way they treat their employees.

“GPC is home. The people who live and work here are my second family. The culture and atmosphere is homelike, faith based and there is genuine care for one another. What is there not to like about that?” Tooker said. “I have always shared and believed that the people who work here are not here by accident. I believe we are called to serve a purpose at GPC. And although not everyone stays working here for their entire career, but maybe for just a season; for whatever length of time, it is so with a purpose orchestrated by God.”

Even though she is retiring, Tooker plans to stay involved in the community.

“We have nine grandkids that will keep us hopping and our hope is to do a bit of traveling,” Tooker said. “Although I am retiring, I am not flying off into the sunset, never to be seen again. I still plan to be involved with Cambridge ACT on Alzheimer’s and other community groups I have been part of for some time.”

Tooker said when it’s safe, she plans to volunteer at GracePointe Crossing.

“I would like to add that it has been an honor and privilege to work at GPC for more than 31 years. My love for the people inside the walls and our community has only grown with each year. We are blessed to have such a great senior living community right here in Cambridge. I have been blessed,” Tooker said. “Although I am going to miss everyone like crazy, my plan is to come back next summer or when volunteers are allowed back inside and continue to stay connected with those who live and work here. My plan is to have time with our residents to visit and reminisce of days gone by. It has been an honor to serve at GracePointe Crossing.”

When asked about what the residents at GracePointe Crossing mean to her, Tooker submitted the following:

I want every resident to know: I am glad you chose us for your home.
I will miss seeing you each day.
You make a difference in my life.
I care about you like I do my own family.
You have so much wisdom to share, please keep sharing.
I hold a special specific memory of you.
I also wonder where time goes ...
You are never too old to have an impact on someone’s life.
I wish there was no pandemic.
God is with you. You are not alone.
I include you in my prayers.
I want you to be happy, at peace and content.
 

Read the original story as published in the County News.
 

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