About

Brewster Place was founded as The Congregational Home for the Aged in 1958.

The cornerstone idea for Brewster Place was conceived in the 1950s when four Congregational churches came together to make life better for seniors. Topekan, Frances Engler and her husband Roy, wanted to provide a comfortable, convenient home for Frances’ aging aunt. The couple took their idea for a senior care home and offer of ten acres of farmland to their pastor, Reverend Ned Burr McKenney.

McKenney worked with the three other Topeka Congregational churches to establish a corporate charter for The Congregational Home in 1958. Though the official corporate name remains The Congregational Home, in 1962 the property became known as Brewster Place to honor early Congregationalist, William Brewster. Brewster, a Mayflower pilgrim and Plymouth Colony leader, was known for his compassion and faith.

Five decades later, compassion and service to seniors is witnessed daily on our beautiful 35 acre campus. Brewster proudly offers nearly 400 residents a wide array of activities, amenities, and innovations to make a positive difference in their lives.

Turn the page and write your next chapter in the Brewster storybook of senior living.

Notable Dates

2020

2020

Quality of life additions open, including cultural arts center, swimming pool, coffee lounge, wellness center, and woodshop.
2010

2011

Brewster Rehab Center opens

2013

Construction completed on St. Francis Health Family Medicine and ReadyCare at Brewster

2014

New 40 year Campus Master Plan is approved by board

2016

Main Street opens on the garden level of Assisted Living after major addition and remodeling

2017

Construction begins on Cottonwood Villas

2018

Cottonwood Villas construction complete and residents move in

2018

Construction begins on cultural arts center, indoor pool, etc

2018

President & CEO David Beck retires

2019

Joe Ewert succeeds David Beck as President & CEO
2000

2000

Garden level of Assisted Living renovated – named Commerce Court

2003

Main Building basement remodeled to become Klinge Activity Center

2004

Completion of eight luxury Townhomes complete on west side of campus

2008

Purchased Country Club Apartments east of Main Building
1990

1998

David Beck hired as Executive Director

1998

Brewster Health Center opens

1999

Renovation of old medical unit complete and Residential Health Center opens (Assisted Living)
1980

1981

Release of The Brewster Place Story – A Dream Come True – History of Brewster Place

1983-85

Purchase of more land on the southeast side for future expansion

1984

20th Anniversary Celebration

1984

20th Anniversary Celebration

1986

Groundbreaking ceremony for Brewster East expansion

1987

Brewster East opens

1989

Open House to celebrate 25th Anniversary
1970

1971

Additional three-acres south of property purchased

1972

Brewster adds 38 new units with the completion of Brewster West

1978

Brewster adds 38 more units, including cottages and apartments, with completion of Brewster South

1979

Executive Director Nathan Barr retires

1979

Ron Schmoller hired as Executive Director
1960

1961

Nathan Barr becomes first Executive Director

1961

Board purchases five –acre tract along West 29th St. including native stone house as site

1962

Groundbreaking ceremonies and construction begins

1964

Construction on the Main Building is completed and the first tenants move in

1969

Medical facility doubles in size with the addition of a second floor
1950

1958

Brewster chartered as the The Congregational Home

Brewster Executive Team

Joe Ewert, President and CEO

“I want to help people pursue their calling, to find meaning and purpose, and to enjoy being valued as a member of the special community that is Brewster.” -Joe Ewert

President & CEO

Joe Ewert

Joe Ewert is only the fifth President and CEO in Brewster’s history. His devotion to senior care was inspired by his dad, who worked as a nursing home administrator, and his mom, who was the director of nursing at a care facility.

“As a child I always wanted to do what my parents did,” Joe said. “They were very passionate about their work, and I always enjoyed spending time with them at their workplace. The residents always treated me so well and made me feel special.”

After serving in the U.S. Army, including a deployment to Iraq, Joe graduated from the University of Kansas. Through various business ventures, Joe never felt the pull to join the senior care industry until he spent a month developing business skills and serving residents in a senior care home in Manhattan, Kansas.

“I felt like I had found a home,” Joe said. “I had indeed found my calling.”

Since then, Joe has served seniors by certifying care facilities at the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services and in government relations for LeadingAge Kansas.

As CEO of Brewster, Joe is committed to growing the care and service offered for the community. More than anything, he loves connecting with the residents and is always helping solve problems, getting to know residents, and sharing stories or a laugh.

“I will use my skills as a leader and a businessman to help continue Brewster’s successes into the future, but I derive the greatest pleasure through the relationships with people here at Brewster.”

Melissa Reynolds, Director of Finance and Human Resources

“I believe in the mission of Brewster and, while I work mostly with financials, business models, processes, and procedures, I love the residents. Being part of strategic plans – both current and long-range – that affect the culture and stability of Brewster, is humbling.” -Melissa Reynolds

Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Melissa Reynolds

Melissa earned her BBA (Bachelor’s in Business Administration) from Washburn University and her MBA (Master’s in Business Administration) from Emporia State University. Both degrees were completed with an emphasis in accounting. Melissa also holds credentials in Human Resources including SPHR (Senior Professional in Human Resources) and SHRM-SCP (Society for Human Resources Management-Senior Certified Professional)

Lea Chaffee, Vice President of Operations

“Serving others is my passion. I am honored to serve the residents and staff here at Brewster. Brewster is a community like no other and I love being a part of this great big family.” -Lea Chaffee

Vice President of Operations

Lea Chaffee

Lea Chaffee serves as the Vice President of Operations. Lea is passionate about serving others and working with older adults. She fell in love with helping others at a young age and has worked in the aging services field for over 20 years. Lea obtained her bachelor’s degree in Social Work and Gerontology from Kansas State University. Lea worked as a social worker during her early career and in 2011 obtained her Adult Care Home Administrator’s license. Since then, she has focused on creating a culture of support and person-centered living. When she’s not having fun at Brewster, Lea can be found working with the color guard for Washburn Rural High School’s marching band, hanging out with her family at the lake, or playing music for anyone who will listen. Her greatest joys are her husband, Luke, and two children, Nick and Tessa.

Brewster Management Team

Karen Jackson, Controller
Director of Finance

Karen Jackson

Manuel Martinez, Director of Dining Services
Director of Dining Services

Manuel Martinez

Matt Burns, Director of Environmental Services
Director of Environmental Services

Matt Burns

Christy Allen, Housekeeping Supervisor
Housekeeping Supervisor

Christy Allen

John Long, IT Director
IT Director

John Long

Chris Gallagher, Lifestyle Services Lead
Lifestyle Services Lead

Chris Gallagher

Janis Swanson, Director of Communications
Director of Communications

Janis Swanson

Serena Kent, Director of Wellness and Resident Services
Director of Wellness and Resident Services

Serena Kent

Ron Dean, Security Manager
Security Manager

Ron Dean

Ashley Baker, Director of Health Care Services
Director of Healthcare Services

Ashley Baker

Layla Sullivan, Director of Clinical Services
Director of Clinical Services

Layla Sullivan

Elise Leonard, Director of Community Health Services
Director of Community Health Services

Elise Leonard

Brooke Hulsether, Therapy Manager
Therapy Manager

Brooke Hulsether

Past Executive Directors
1961-1980

Nathan Barr

1980-1997

Ron Schmoller

1997-2018

David Beck

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