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Campaign to Name Downtown Senior Center for Charley Stark

Monday, April 2nd, 2018 7:03:16 PM
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Published in the Senior Services of Wichita, Inc. newsletter, FiftyFive Forward. Spring 2018

SSI 2018 Charley Stark

Entrepreneur, innovator, and philanthroper, Charley Stark made a huge impact not only on Wichita, but to nonprofits and seniors as well.

After successfully launching Wichita’s first TV and stereo shop in 1956 known as Stark Suburban Sound, he opened and owned the popcorn, snack bar, and record departments in the three David’s stores, as well as the record departments at Jenkins Music stores. He and a partner brought the Maverick Steak House here in the early ‘60’s along with developing land that he leased to McDonald’s restaurants. He and another partner built the first seven Burger Kings in Tulsa, along with becoming a Ken’s and Mazzio’s Pizza franchisee with restaurants all over central and western Kansas. In 1988 he and his son Doug brought Little Caesar’s to Wichita.

After caring for Charley’s parents with Alzheimer’s for years, he founded the first residential care home in the state. That company, ComfortCare Homes, is now the largest provider of dementia services in Wichita. He and his wife, Mary Lou, also raised four sons and a daughter.

Years later, he founded Grumpy Old Men, starting with six members. Members each put in $1,000 three times a year for a gala event, then donate the extra funds to area nonprofits. In the 10 years since then, the members have grown to 110+, donating $225,000 to charities in Sedgwick County each year. The group recently passed the $1.5 million mark in total donations and is still going strong.

To honor Charley’s legacy, efforts are now underway to raise $1 million to rename the newly-remodeled Downtown Senior Center in his honor. To contribute to this tribute, please contact Chris Heiman at 316.267.0302.

Best Place to Work 2017

Monday, December 11th, 2017 3:06:33 PM
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Doug Stark will host a table of employees at the 2017 Best Place to Work Luncheon, hoping for a win this year.  “Our dedicated professional CareGivers and support staff made this moment possible.  They desire all the recognition.” – Doug Stark.

Event Information

The Wichita Business Journal’s Best Places to Work Awards program recognizes outstanding companies whose benefits, policies and practices are among the best in the region.

The recognition event will be held on Thursday, December 14th, 2017, from 11:15 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Wichita. Check-in and networking will begin at 11:15 a.m. followed by lunch and awards at 11:30 a.m.

2017 Honorees

Small (10-24):

Adams, Brown, Beran & Ball Chtd.
Comfort Systems
Conrade Insurance Group
Greteman Group
Integrated Consulting Engineers, Inc
Jaco General Contractor, Inc.
Kansas Leadership Center
Lifeboat Creative
Planet Hair

Medium (25-99):

Axiom Healthcare Services
Biz Core Pros
ComfortCare Homes
DeVaughn James Injury Lawyers
easyhome Furnishings
Ernst & Young, LLP
Key Construction
Martin Pringle Attorneys At Law
Optometric Billing Solutions
Syndeo Outsourcing
The Law Company, Inc.
Zernco, Inc.

Large (100+):

Conco Construction
Edward Jones
Envision Inc.
FlightSafety International
Marriott International
Mel Hambelton Ford
Mid-Continent Instruments and Avionics
PK Companies
Regent Park Rehabilitation & Healthcare
Scholfield Honda
Wichita Area Technical College
Wichita High School East
Wildcat Construction Co., Inc.

It’s never too early to plan for business succession

Saturday, October 14th, 2017 7:10:26 PM
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The following excerpt of an article in the Wichita Business Journal was published on line Oct 6, 2017

By Bryan Horwath
 –  Reporter, Wichita Business Journal

Doug Stark has no immediate plans to step down from his role as CEO of ComfortCare Homes, a company that was started by his parents in 1993.

Having a succession strategy in place, however, is something that the 61-year-old has started to think about.

“Nobody wants to talk about something like that,” Stark said. “I’m actually in the process of putting together a plan right now. It’s never too early to start thinking about it.”

The Wichita-based business provides long-term care services for seniors, particularly those with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

The company — started in 1993 by Charley and Mary Lou Stark — has about 75 employees. Doug Stark also owns a Comfort Keepers franchise in Wichita, which, he said, functions as a sister company of ComfortCare.

Stark said his plan, while it is subject to change, is to hand the reins to one of his four children, daughter Kacey (Kasey) Breidenthal, sometime within the next several years.

He said the process of taking over from his late father was mostly seamless.

“I joined the company in 1995 and took over as CEO and president in 1999,” Stark said. “My dad retired in 2000 and, I would say, officially let go of all his duties in 2002. Any differences we had during that overlap, I think, were due mostly to his remoteness.”

“He would call sometimes and want to give advice on something, but he hadn’t been in on everything that led up to a decision.”

John Meetz, a Wichita businessman and president of The Alternative Board, works through a Texas-based company called The ExitMap to help customers craft business succession plans.

See the full article online at https://www.bizjournals.com/wichita/news/2017/10/06/its-never-too-early-to-plan-for-business.html

Best Place to Work Nomination

Friday, October 13th, 2017 4:26:43 PM
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ComfortCare Homes is proud to make the finalist list for the 2017 Best Place to Work sponsored by the Wichita Business Journal.  Announcement of finalist was made in the Journal this week.

The nomination process required that the majority of the staff had to complete a personal and confidential survey about the workplace.


Bill Roy

Forty companies in the Wichita area are finalists in the 2017 Best Places to Work program.

The companies, broken out into small-, medium- and large-company categories, scored highest among all nominated businesses in a survey of their employees.

The finalists announced here are listed in alphabetical order, not according to scores. The scoring, and the overall category winners, will be revealed at an awards luncheon in December at the Hyatt Regency Wichita hotel.

The Best Places to Work program got its start in Wichita back in 2004.

When companies are nominated for the award, they agree to have their employees take a survey conducted by Quantum Workplace. Quantum then shares the results of the survey with the Wichita Business Journal.

The small-company category includes businesses with 10 to 24 employees. The medium category includes companies with 25 to 99 employees and the large category includes companies with 100 or more employees.

2017 marks the eleventh year the WBJ has presented the Best Places to Work Awards. In that time the program has recognized 180 separate companies.

The 2017 Best Places to Work Awards are sponsored by The Kansas Chamber and by Cox Business.

Watch WichitaBusinessJournal.com/events for more information about the luncheon.


ComfortCare Homes representing Walk to End Alzheimer’s

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2017 3:49:23 PM
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Robert Miller, VP of Company Development on KWCH Channel 12 this morning to discuss the Walk to End Akzheimer’s and it is importance to our community.



Wichita bait dog gets second chance on life, lives with Alzheimer’s patients

Wednesday, July 5th, 2017 8:19:49 PM
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Published: Updated:


WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A Wichita bait dog, found covered in wounds, is now getting a second chance on life.

“Buy me some peanuts and crackerjacks,” sang Comfort Care Home resident Jesse Seager.

Jesse Seager loves to sing. He said it helps put him and the other Alzheimer’s patients at the Comfort Care Home in Wichita at ease. Like music, many of the residents also rely on their new four-legged friend, Dante, to help them feel secure at the facility.

“We just like him, you know, he just makes this a nice place,” said resident Rita Mendal.

However, Dante’s life has been far from nice. In fact, some might say his life has been downright horrific.

Wichita Animal Control officers picked up Dante in the 900 block of North Grove Street in late October. Wichita police said Dante’s teeth were either knocked out or filed down and he was covered in open wounds. At the time, police said they believed Dante was used as a bait dog to teach other dogs how to fight.

“His neck was completely, just basically destroyed by fighting,” said Comfort Care Homes Activities Director and Beauties and Beasts Inc. volunteer Kasey Breidenthal. “He had a skin graft about 7 inches of his back taken to repair his neck.”

Beauties and Beasts Inc. adopted Dante from the Wichita shelter shortly after he was brought in by officers. The rescue team then put Dante through rehab before finding him a forever home at one of the Comfort Care Homes locations in Wichita.

“He lives here full-time. My activity staff comes through every day. We take him to vet appointments if needed, and yeah he just gets to hang out with the residents and be part of the house. He’s treated just like another resident,” said Breidenthal. “He has been living here and loving, being loved on by the residents and becoming fat and spoiled.”

“He just makes it better, I think,” said Mendal.

Dante has been the house dog at one of the Comfort Care Home locations for about three months. Officials said he even sleeps with one of the residents.

Kansas couple using ‘puppet passion’ to spread joy

Tuesday, June 27th, 2017 9:45:10 PM
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Published: Updated:


WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A Hutchinson couple is putting their passion for storytelling and puppets to good use.

The story of Jim and Natalee Ganyon is far from ordinary. The two lived in the Southwest for decades, each pursuing a love of teaching and helping others.

Natalee was a preschool and kindergarten teacher in New Mexico. Jim, a United States Army Veteran, was a special education teacher and also worked for law enforcement in Nevada. The pair met online a couple of years ago. That’s when they realized they were a match made in puppet heaven.

“Our puppets have talked to each other through Skyping a lot. We Skyped through our puppets a lot,” laughed Natalee Ganyon.

Soon after meeting each other online, Jim and Natalee married and moved to Hutchinson. Next, the retirees decided to use their passion for puppets as a way to educate people and spread joy throughout the community. The pair now travels around the state storytelling to different groups including local YMCA’s, juveniles at the detention center and senior citizens.

“It’s a way of providing encouragement, joy, and as a certified teacher every time we do a puppet program, from adults to kids, you can get people to laugh and that’s the thing when you walk away from it, you say, I did a good thing,” said Jim Ganyon.

On Tuesday, the Ganyon’s put on a show for the residents at one of the Comfort Care Homes in Wichita. All of the residents at the home have Alzheimer’s or the early stages of the disease.

“They are kind of like tools that we can use to touch people’s lives,” Jim said.

“It’s very therapeutic to use a puppet,” Natalee said. “It’s a cognitive thing where they get their memory going again.”

The residents also get a kick out of the puppets.

“I thought those were so funny!” said resident Rita Mendal.

The Ganyon’s said, ultimately, storytelling through puppets is their way to give back to the community and help spread happiness throughout Kansas.

“In my career, I’ve seen too many bad things, I mean horrible things in law enforcement and the military. It’s a way of changing lives,” Jim said.

“That’s the reward, when you actually feel like you are making a deposit into someone’s life,” Natalee said.

Entrepreneur was ‘a guy who truly loved Wichita,’ son says

Monday, March 27th, 2017 6:54:43 PM
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Music Therapy for Alzheimer’s Patients

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017 2:18:44 PM
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KAKE TV Channel 10 – Susan Peters

WICHITA — Alzheimer’s caregivers are calling it a miracle.

Kansas Nursing Homes are asking for it.

“It” is not a drug. It’s a new therapy for people with Alzheimer’s that’s only available in New York and Wichita. All it takes is an iPod.

Wichitan Dave Roth, now a musician in New York, saw a documentary entitled “Alive Inside.” It won several awards at the Sundance Film Festival. The documentary chronicles one social worker’s discovery about how an iPod can “awaken” Alzheimer’s patients from their comatose-like state.

The iPods are loaded with personalized music from the patient’s teenage and early adult years, because it’s the music brains are most attached to.

Roth brought the program to Wichita to test it on his mother, along with the help of his sister. He says they’re both astonished.

“She could be sitting there in a chair, almost in a comatose look for her and you put the headphones on her and her eyes change,” says Nancy Kersenbrock speaking of her mother Nathalee Roth. “The whole awakening thing….you can see her awaken.” Her brother goes one step further.

“My mother at the time had four words she could say. She had a language of four words” says Dave Roth. “I put the iPod on her for the first time and she started singing lyrics with me.”

Together with the local Alzheimer’s Association, Roth has now brought the “Music and Memories” program to Wichita…the second city in the nation.

Nadine Rogers, at Comfort Care Homes in Wichita, suffers from severe dementia. Her daughter, Beverly Crowe, says she has been almost unresponsive for months. We went with the Alzheimer’s Association as they put headphones on Nadine for the first time. Her iPods was programmed with music from the 40s that Nadine and her late husband used to dance to. Her smile was immediate.

“I am very surprised,” said her daughter Beverly. “She has not done that in three months.” Nadine began to tap her feet, and even moved her head to the music. She even starts to talk.

The director at Comfort Care, Doug Stark immediately got tears in his eyes. “She hasn’t smiled in three months. It’s magical.”

The local Alzheimer’s Association would love to receive your donation of old iPods, CDs, and iTunes cards. If you would like to help, call 316-267-7333 or 1-800-272-3900.

Bill Warren has agreed to a public showing of the documentary “Alive Inside” at the East Warren Theatre. A donation to the Alzheimer’s Association gets you in on November 20th. Attendees wanting to buy tickets need to go to the Warren Theatres ticket vendor at: www.movietickets.com/pre_purchase.asp?movie_id=135196&house_id=8217&showdate=13

KAKE TV BROADCAST: http://www.kake.com/home/headlines/Music–Memories-Alzheimers-Therapy-281877521.html

Documentary – ALIVE INSIDE – Coming to Wichita

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017 2:18:06 PM
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Wichita, KS – The Alzheimer’s Association, Central and Western Kansas Chapter has secured the rights to bring the documentary film Alive Inside, winner of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival – Documentary Audience Award, to Wichita. This stirring documentary follows social worker Dan Cohen, founder of the nonprofit organization Music and Memory, as he fights against a broken healthcare system to demonstrate music’s ability to combat memory loss and restore a deep sense of self to those suffering from it. “Seeing this film will inspire you to look at the person behind the disease, and in doing so know you have a way to reach that person,” commented Linsey Norton, LMSW, Program Director for the Alzheimer’s Association, Central and Western Kansas Chapter.

The film will be shown at the Warren Theatre – Old Town, Wichita, Kansas, as part of the 3rd Annual Kansas Education Conference on Dementia. Participants of the conference can register to see the entire film on Monday, November 17, 2014 sponsored by ComfortCare Homes® and Warren Theaters. Participants of the conference will then hear Ann Wyatt of Music and Memory, New York, speak as the final keynote for the all-day conference on November 18, 2014. Wyatt will share how the Music and Memory program founded by Cohen has changed lives across the country.

“This empowering film is changing how a we reconnect with those we love who have dementia, while improving the quality of their life,” said Robert Miller, LMSW, Vice President of Company Development, ComfortCare Homes®. Alive Inside is a joyous cinematic exploration of music’s capacity to reawaken our souls and uncover the deepest parts of our humanity. Filmmaker Michael Rossato-Bennett chronicles the astonishing experiences of individuals around the country who have been revitalized through the simple experience of listening to music. His camera reveals the uniquely human connection we find in music and how its healing power can triumph where prescription medication falls shorts.

Local and state officials have been invited to see the film in Wichita in an effort to build support for a State initiative expanding the efforts of the Music and Memory model throughout the state of Kansas. Currently The Alzheimer’s Association, Central and Western Kansas Chapter, operates the Roth Project – Music and Memory, a local program named after the family that brought the idea from New York to Wichita. “Anyone with a diagnosis of dementia should have access to a program like Music and Memory because it can make a significant difference in the life of the person and their family,” stated Doug Stark, President of ComfortCare Homes®. States like Wisconsin and Utah have already made great strides to dedicate funds and resources to programs that give individuals and families access to Music and Memory programs.   (Additional details attached)

A press conference is scheduled prior to the movie showing, Nov 17, at the Warren Theatre, Old Town, at 1:00 pm. This is an opportunity to interview key people involved in bringing the film to Wichita, as well as Ann Wyatt of the Music and Memory program of New York. Phone interviews with Dan Cohen, Founder of Music and Memory, New York, can be scheduled. Contact Linsey Norton at Alzheimer’s Association for details.

An encore showing of Alive Inside is planned for November 20, 2014 at 6:30 PM, at the Warren Theater (East), 11611 E. 13th, Wichita, Kansas. This showing will be open to the general public. Tickets can be purchased through the Warren Theatre Box Office.


For more information about The 3rd Annual Kansas Education Conference on Dementia, showings of Alive Inside, or how to make a donation to the Alzheimer’s Association, Central and Western Kansas – Roth Project, Music and Memory program, call the Alzheimer’s Association at 316-267-7333 / linsey.norton@alz.org. Registration for the conference can also be found on-line at http://www.alz.org/centralandwesternkansas.


“The family gratefully acknowledges and thanks ComfortCare Homes in Wichita for the excellent care they gave Margaret the past two years.  They treated all of us with such love and respect.  Alzheimer’s Disease truly is the ‘long goodbye.’ “

- Barber Family, in the Wichita Eagle.



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