Meet the people in our film
Download TIFFs and JPEGs of all the characters in a single compressed file (97.09MB). Individual and grouped photographs are available below. Updates on people's lives after the film are italicized.
John George is the young, hip manager of the nursing home and the lead visionary of Saint John's culture change movement. Despite dissension and resistence that threatens to derail his culture change mission, John stays focused on creating a place that reverses the negative memories he carries with him from childhood visits to the nursing home where his mom worked. Download zipped TIFF of John (10.71 MB).
Update: John George has grown more committed and confident in his quest to transform Saint John's. Over the 2005 holiday season, he journeyed all over town to find Christmas ornaments that better reflect the ethnicity of the staff and is negotiating with state regulators to allow a paging system that would rid the nursing home of all beeps from bed, elevator and wheelchair alarms— less hospital and more home.
Edie and Lloyd Herrold, once notables on Milwaukee's social circuit, are now separated by Lloyd's Parkinson's disease, which forces him to move from their independent living apartment to the nursing home downstairs. While Edie wrestles with her guilt at not providing his care and fear of losing her own health, Lloyd discovers a surprising new life. Even though his physical state declines, he finds himself supported by a staff committed to forming meaningful relationships. With their encouragement, he discovers new joy in his children and, unexpectedly, falls in love with one of his fellow nursing home residents. Download zipped JPEG of Lloyd and zipped TIFF of Edie (26.26 MB).
Update: Edie moved from her independent living apartment to the assisted living floor due to increasingly frequent falls and was recently diagnosed with a form of cancer that her doctor says is 98 percent curable. Lloyd enjoyed Mary's companionship until she passed away in January of 2006. While very sad, Lloyd retains his sense of humor and determination to press on. Lloyd and Edie have lunch together every Tuesday.
Their daughter, also named Edie, is caught between her parents in Milwaukee and her life 350 miles away in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Her mother depends on her to handle finances. Her dad depends on her to deliver the emotional support he no longer gets from his wife. Meanwhile, she is trying to rekindle her flickering career as a music composer in between frequent visits to Milwaukee.
Update: Edie is balancing her music career (she plays bass, composes music for her jazz quartet, and scores commercials), new work with a startup garden tools company and care for her parents. After the film she recognized fellow daughter/caregiver Amy Blumenthal in the parking lot and the two have subsequently formed a friendship.
Amy Blumenthal is devoted to her mother, Arienne Balser, who suffered a stroke that deadened her left side and contorted her hand into a ball of bone and flesh. Endlessly faithful, Amy visits her mother regularly and is vigilant about working with Saint John's nurses while also caring for two young daughters and holding down a demanding job. Part of the "sandwich" generation caring for parents and children, Amy is on a quest to balance her hectic life. When her mother has a second stroke, her balancing act becomes even tougher.
Update: Amy's mother, Arienne Balser, rarely calls out in pain or anxiety any more, perhaps due to an increasing harmony with staff. Her granddaughters visit her every weekend. As a result of the film, Amy has grown close to Lloyd Herrold, and discovered fellow daughter/caregiver Edie Herrold Jr., with whom she has formed a friendship. The circle has grown to include Helen Dixon, the daughter of Lloyd’s late companion, Mary Griffith.
Bob Haig is a healthy 90-year-old who still works in the photography studio where he made portraits of nearly every famous Milwaukeean. He is struggling to adjust to the disappearance of Dolores, his wife who is succumbing to Alzheimer's. Angry at losing her and the globetrotting life they once shared, he sometimes lashes out at the nursing home staff. Other times he pretends that the disease doesn't exist, dressing her each morning complete with full makeup, and taking her to parties. He eventually comes to terms with Dolores' fate, and is left to wrestle with his own loneliness. Download zipped TIFFs of Bob and Dolores (25.28 MB).
Update: Bob and Dolores continue to spend lots of time together, and Bob's relationship with the staff is mostly harmonious these days. Though he was briefly hospitalized for a bout of dizziness, Bob is still devoted to his routine of work, civic engagement and church. He hosted the filmmakers for a presentation of ALMOST HOME to his Rotary Club chapter last February.
Like most of Saint John's CNAs (certified nursing assistant), Enchantra Cosey is poor, African American, and a single mom. Despite the challenge of raising her daughter, two grandchildren fathered by one of her two teenage sons and coping with both sonS' incarceration, she finds time to study at night and go to classes to obtain a GED. Each morning she rides the 5.30am bus to work. But at night she dreams of one day becoming Saint John's director of nursing. Download zipped TIFF of Enchantra (21.83 MB).
Update: After dropping out, Enchantra has re-enrolled in the GED program with plans to graduate in the summer of 2006 and then begin nursing school.
Ralph Nelson. He woodworks, attends plays, and cracks a lot of jokes. After losing his wife 12 years ago, he is finally ready to — "I don't call it a date" — date again. A fixture at cocktail parties, Ralph pours his heart into everything he does, from leading trash pick-up brigades to building medicine carts for Saint John's. He'll do most anything … except cross the threshold of the nursing home. Afraid of becoming frail or sick, his refrain is "just let me wake up dead, that would be the neatest thing." Ralph is just the person John George hopes to comfort by achieving a culture change that makes the nursing home less frightening. Download zipped TIFF of Ralph Nelson (13 MB).
Update: Ralph was lucky that doctors discovered his lung cancer early enough to allow for successful surgery. In typical fashion, Ralph has already returned to his myriad activities.