New Community Extended Care Facility has lost a longtime staff member. Director of Activities Elizabeth Brookins passed away Jan. 4 at the age of 78.
Brookins began working at Extended Care in 1992 and was well-known in the facility. Her work involved coordinating all activity programs for residents. She created the monthly calendar and coordinated with area houses of worship to make sure the spiritual needs of residents were also met. She took her role seriously, but she didn’t limit herself to just doing what was in her job description.
“She was a big advocate for residents, staff, family members, visitors and volunteers,” said Extended Care Administrator Veronica Onwunaka. “Anyone who came through that door into Extended Care, she reached out to.”
Her kindness extended to all levels of New Community.
“Elizabeth Brookins, Ms. Liz to me, brought joy and happiness into the Extended Care Facility with her every time she passed through the door,” said New Community CEO Richard Rohrman. “Every time I walked in and she was in the little store, I got a great big smile and a hello. I looked forward to it. It was a small thing but it really gave me a lift. I can only imagine what she meant to the patients she worked with. Ms. Liz shared her joy with us for over 26 years. Lucky us!”
Onwunaka said Brookins was a team player who was dedicated to her work at the nursing home. Brookins spent much of her time at Extended Care, even when she wasn’t scheduled to work. Onwunaka said she cared deeply about the residents and the vision of New Community as a whole.
“The mission was always in her mind and she carried it to the last day,” Onwunaka said. “She never forgot the residents, our staff and everyone that she touched. Her energy was beyond human imagination.”
Brookins was born and raised in Sandersville, Ga. and she was one of nine siblings. Her son William Brookins said she moved to New Jersey, where she met his father and had him, her only child. She lived in East Orange for 52 years, up until her passing.
William described his mother as a very caring, giving and welcoming person.
“She was always inviting. People were always able to come over to my house and hang out. I was the hang out place because of her,” William said. “That was her nature. She was just a good, giving, caring person.”
He also said she loved working at Extended Care.
“She was there all the time. Six, seven days a week,” he said. “I used to get on her about it because she was always there, but she loved it so I backed off. That was her life, that job. For the residents.”
Extended Care will host a Celebration of Life in honor of Elizabeth Brookins Thursday, Feb. 7 from 4 to 8 p.m. at the facility, located at 266 South Orange Ave., Newark.