Bethany Life and its continuum of care have been a staple of central Iowa for over 100 years and Cindi Martin, Director Timberland Village, has been a staple of Bethany Life now for over a quarter of a century. Cindi was born in Iowa, but, as a young girl, grew up in Florida. Graduating college with a degree in education, Cindi started her career as a high school and middle school social studies teacher in Florida. After meeting her husband, Cindi moved back to Iowa. Realizing that education certification rules are different in Iowa than Florida, Cindi was a substitute teacher before taking a job in activities at a nursing home in Madrid. “I fell in love with it immediately,” exclaimed Cindi. “I thought why did I not know about this senior population and all the fun stuff that goes on in these long term care settings.”

Quickly recognizing that caring for seniors was her passion, Cindi embarked on a journey that has led her to where she is now. “There is a Beatles song that is called the long and winding road, and that is kind of like my journey to Timberland Village, a long and winding road,” said Cindi. After a short stint in Madrid, Cindi started work at Bethany in 1997 in activities, then as a volunteer coordinator, putting together annual events for the community to be hosted on site at The Households of Bethany. Then, because her degree was also in social and behavioral sciences, Cindi transitioned into social work as a social services assistant. Finally, shortly before Timberland Village opened to the public in 2002, she was hired for a hybrid role, both activities and social work, acting as a case manager of sorts. Nearly five years later, the director at Timberland Village position became open, the job was offered to her, and the rest is history.

Having worked in long term care for nearly 30 years, Cindi has had a front row seat in witnessing the booming expansion of this industry. When she first entered the field, the long term care options for aging seniors were slim. Early in her career, assisted living was something that only people with money could afford, there were not many affordable care options, and at home care options were merely an idea waiting to be conceived. Fast forward to today, the industry has grown leaps and bounds. “Now we have all these fabulous choices. If you look at Bethany and all the things we have done in the last 26 years since I have been here, the people coming to work here now don’t know any different that LifeChoices, Bethany at Home, and independent and assisted living were not options, it was just ‘the home’,” explained Cindi.

The tenants at Timberland Village are far and away what keeps Cindi coming into work each day. Cindi’s servant heart and uplifting attitude make it easy for her to connect with and build relationships with her tenants. “It isn’t hard to see the impact she has on the people she works with and serves each and every day,” said Austin Mortvedt, Executive Director of Home and Community Based Services. “Both residents and employees alike are drawn to her and she does such an amazing job making them feel comfortable and at ease around her.” With years of experience at Bethany under her belt, Cindi is beginning to get to the point in her career where she is seeing second generation tenants move into Timberland Village. Children of former tenants have seen their parents have positive experiences, and are following in their footsteps, trusting Timberland Village for their care as they age, just as their parents did. “I feel super connected to these people, like I have a part of their history already,” described Cindi. “When you have all of those connections and you know these people like I do, it’s just such a joy to come into work each and every day.”

Those that have been in the industry long enough know that not every day is a breeze. Working in long term care will bring high highs and low lows, and it is easy to feel overwhelmed by these extremes. Fully aware of this, Cindi has done an outstanding job of fostering an environment at Timberland Village where people can open up with another, grieve without feeling shame, as well as proudly celebrate accomplishments of themselves and peers. “I come into work everyday with the attitude and idea that for the people that live here, and for the people that work here, it is going to be the best day ever” said Cindi.