May 2003

Local Actress Takes on New Role--And Pet--
As Oakleaf Personal Care Home's Administrator

by John Fries

Just a few minutes off Brownsville Road, after winding through the pristine residential streets of Baldwin, you reach the crest of a gentle hill. It's a quiet spot, with freshly manicured grass and a peaceful ambience. On the spring morning I visited, the bright sun bathed the hilltop in warmth, and shone through the windows of a spacious, airy building that serves as home to nearly 80 older adults.

Once inside the doors of Oakleaf Personal Care Home, I was immediately greeted with smiles and hellos, as though I was a familiar face. It's a friendly, cozy place, one in which staff, residents, visitors and a playful greyhound all happily mingle as one big family. The genuine warmth is immediately evident to first-time visitors.

"The thing I noticed when I first arrived here," said Roseann Kulevich, who joined Oakleaf as its administrator in March. "is how wonderful the people are, and much they truly love the residents."

Kulevich knows personal care. She came to Oakleaf after Anderson Manor, a personal care residence formerly owned by Presbyterian Senior Care, closed its doors earlier this year. For 19 years, she worked for PSC as personal care home adminstrator, customer service teacher and housing manager. A native of Powhatan Point, Ohio (just south of Wheeling) and longtime resident of the North Side, where she lives with her 17-year-old son, Jonathan,

Kulevich is very happy in her new work environment. "When I first came to Oakleaf and started meeting people in the community," she said, "I'd hear wonderful things about the residence, and was extremely impressed with its reputation." According to Kulevich, Oakleaf is a home to its residents, rather than a medical model. "It's built all on one level, and is extremely well-staffed and well-run."

The 82-bed residence has a staff of 46, all of whom work together to oversee care of residents. There's also a four-legged member of the family: a beautiful, seven-year-old, white/red greyhound named Fanny, who's lived at Oakleaf for three years.

"Fanny used to race at Wheeling Downs in 1997 and 1998," said Cindy Brady, assistant director of wellness. "A few years ago, we discussed the possibility of getting a pet, and did quite a bit of investigating. Finally, we contacted Going Home Greyhounds, a Wexford agency that rescues greyhounds who can no longer race and puts them in foster homes until they can be adopted."

After the agency did an extensive background check of Oakleaf, including visiting the residence, it made Fanny available for $200, which was easily raised in two weeks. "We posted a message asking for voluntary donations so we could adopt a pet, and received immediate support from doctors, nurses, staff, family members and visitors," said Brady, whose 93-year-old grandmother, Hazel Kerfoot of Dravosburg, has been a resident at Oakleaf for the past year.

"Fanny is great with people and other dogs," said Brady. "She knows the residents and their visitors, whose beds she's allowed on, and who have treats." One resident keeps a bowl filled with water in his room. "Fanny also knows which visitors bring her treats and take her for walks, and she gets excited when she sees them," said Brady.

Although she's been a personal care home administrator for much of her career, Kulevich's life away from work is vastly different from that of many of her peers. A talented actress and singer, she holds a bachelor's degree in English from Wheeling Jesuit University, and several years ago attended Schiller College in London, where she earned credits toward a master's degree in theater. She's a delightful person and dynamic musical theater performer who began acting more than 30 years ago, and has played most of the great female lead roles in stage productions.

"My favorite is Rose in 'Gypsy'," said Kulevich, who's performed the part in three different productions. Other favorites include Miss Hannigan in "Annie," Golda in "Fiddler on the Roof," Mame in "Mame," Dolly in "Hello, Dolly," Sara in "Company" and Aunt Eller in "Oklahoma."She's performed some of these roles multiple times. She’s also performed extensively with Pittsburgh Musical Theatre, Stage 62, CCAC, the Jewish Community Center and McKeesport Little Theater.

In addition, she's directed a number of shows. She sings in the choir at the Allegheny Center Alliance Church on the North Side, and in the church's vocal group Vision, which has been featured on WPCB Channel 40 and as part of WPXI-TV's annual holiday Carol Sing.

She said that the career and hobby do intertwine. "When I worked at Presbyterian Senior Care, the residents took Access vans to the theater to see me perform."

Kulevich is sure she'll give a performance for the Oakleaf residents. Also, that she'll return to musical theater in the summer or fall. Right now, though, she's getting to know the staff, residents and families at the Oakleaf Personal Care Home, which, she said, "is a great way to spend the day."


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Copyright © 2005 by John Fries, Pittsburgh, PA.