July 20, 2022
When Keven J. Bennema began working in the senior living space as a caregiver 29 years ago, he couldn’t have predicted it would turn into a career that would lead to a family business that now enhances the lives of some 2,200 seniors at any given time across 13 states. This year, Charter Senior Living—the company that Bennema co-founded with his wife, Kim—is celebrating its sixth anniversary, and the future looks brighter than ever.
Despite the challenges that so many businesses faced during the COVID pandemic, Charter Senior Living has thrived, nearly doubling in size to operating, managing and developing 47 senior living communities. “Our growth has been an enormous accomplishment for us,” said Bennema. “We credit this to our ultimate goal of providing excellent resident care and enhancing the human spirit for every senior and employee.”
The Bennemas’ deep understanding of the senior living industry has led to Charter managing and strengthening many struggling communities across the country. Their hands-on approach is unique in that this husband-and-wife duo travel four to five months out of the year to each community to visit with residents and employees. The couple even helps with the day-to-day activities and lends a helping hand where needed while visiting with those they support.
“Every morning, we want our community teams to answer the question, ‘Whose spirit are we going to enhance today?’ This is at the forefront of everything we do at Charter,” said Bennema. “Technologies may change—and they often help with caregiving—but it’s clear that people will always need the human touch. We see the importance of this every day and every time we visit communities.”
The couple’s passion for seniors has been passed down to their three children, who have assumed responsibilities in the industry and within the company, from helping with financial management to activities programming. “To see this passion in our children is pretty remarkable,” said Bennema. “This is truly a family business that we’re incredibly proud of.”
As the company and family look to the future, Bennema said he looks forward to seeing and utilizing innovative technologies in the senior living space. “Virtual reality and predictive analytics will augment the care we provide. We’ve already begun working with some of these technologies to improve the quality of life of those we serve and help prevent some of the most common dangers to seniors, including fall risk,” noted Bennema. “We’re also seeing a large demand for memory care services. I believe it will only grow within the next five to 10 years. We have a wonderful vision of how we want to enhance the lives of those affected by Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.”
The vision to help those within the senior living space also extends to the staff. “We understand the importance of people having a career, not just a job,” Bennema explained. “From my years of experience within this industry, I know the responsibility that comes with this career. It takes a unique and caring individual to work in the senior living industry. There’s no better time to work in the medical field, especially with seniors.”
To celebrate Charter’s sixth anniversary, the couple has been traveling across the country to each community for a senior “Sailabration” cruise ship-themed party that Kim helped organize. Each community has been hosting daily events this week (July 18-22). A few of the activities include happy hours, tropical animal visits and inflatable dolphin rides for residents.