First resident

Joyce Gunther, the first resident of Field of Dreams in Allegany, N.Y., is shown in the doorway of her new apartment.

ALLEGANY, N.Y. — When Joyce Gunther looks out her apartment window at the Field of Dreams assisted living facility, she can see tall sunflowers growing along an edge of the property.

Gunther, who holds the distinction of being the first resident of the newly opened Field of Dreams assisted living and memory care residence at 3260 N. Seventh St., said she enjoys the pampering she has received after moving in last week.

The $16 million, 88,000-square feet facility, owned by the Tanglewood Group in Jamestown, held its grand opening in early August. The facility, which has private rooms as well as suites with bathrooms, dining rooms, common areas, a fitness room, a chapel, a recreation lounge and even a barbershop, has room to house 140 residents in both units when full.

For Gunther, 84, the decision to move into the facility was an easy one to make. As the widow of the late Dr. Albert Gunther, who had worked at facilities that included the Olean Medical Group and the Federal Correctional Institution at McKean in Lafayette Township, Pa., she had lived in their Olean home since his death 15 years ago. During her move to Field of Dreams, she had the choice of several rooms to pick from at the large residence.

“This is the perfect spot,” Gunther said looking around a cozy room that includes a bathroom and call bells to pull for help, if needed.

“They showed me about 10 other rooms and I said let’s go back to the first one, it’s beautiful,” she said.

The mother of 10 children, 33 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren, she was urged by some of her family to move into the assisted living facility.

Since her move, she has loved every minute of it.

“On the Wednesday I moved in, they just doted on me,” she remarked. “As the mother of 10 children, I never had anyone wait on me. I was the only one here, so I was kind of like their guinea pig — it was nice.”

She said her youngest son, Kevin, his wife and three grandchildren visited her Sunday and they were the first five visitors at the facility.

“My grandkids said, ‘Grandma, can we come live with you?’” she said with a laugh.

Gunther, a retired nurse who was physically active and worked out in gyms in the Olean community prior to her move, remains active now.

“I did an hour in the gym this morning … I like to work out everyday,” she said. “They also have a nice chapel down here. But every morning I get up and (drive) to 8 o’clock services down there at St. Bonaventure.”

Gunther said her room, which is located next to a community room, is ideal for visits from her youngest son, David, who has a disability and lives in a group home.

“They have an area for his record player and all his musical things,” Gunther said of a spot in the community room set aside for David.

“He had dinner with me on Sunday night, they made a pizza just for him,” she added.

For his part, Nicholas Ferreri, owner of the Tanglewood Group, said the open house for Field of Dreams a couple of weeks ago attracted 4,000 people from the community. He stressed that Field of Dreams is the only facility in the area that has state licensure for its assisted living unit and a special needs licensure for its memory care unit.

“It’s rigorous to get the licensure,” he added, noting the facility is required to have licensed practical nurses on each shift, along with regular staff.

He further noted that individuals who qualify for Medicaid can qualify to live in the assisted living or memory care units.

“All it is is going through the process” and paperwork, with assistance provided by staff, he continued. “All they have to do is come in and the case managers will tell them how to qualify.”

He added, “I tell everybody who has questions to come and take a tour, sit with the case managers and see if you qualify for Medicaid” or determine how to qualify for Medicaid.

He said that in addition to Gunther, the facility currently has two other residents, Richard and Barbara Sandburg, who moved in this week. The facility also expects to have six or seven residents by the end of next week.

“We believe we’ll have 30 (residents) a month … and by January we’ll be full,” Ferreri speculated.

For more information on Field of Dreams, call (716) 543-4200.

(Contact reporter Kate Day Sager at Follow her on Twitter, @OTHKate)