August 13, 2008
Former CMSAF Earns Award for Leading Community
by Jodi L. Jordan
Air Force Enlisted Village
SHALIMAR, Fla. (AFRNS) -- A former chief master sergeant of the Air Force was recently named “Executive of the Year” by the Florida Association of Homes and Services for the Aging.
Chief James C. Binnicker is the president and CEO of the Air Force Enlisted Village, a non-profit charity that provides a home for the surviving spouses of retired enlisted servicemembers. He has led the organization since 2000, although his involvement with the village spans more than three decades, including serving on the AFEV’s board of directors since 1992.
This award recognizes the highest qualities of leadership, innovation and commitment. Chief Binnicker has shown all these qualities and more, said Charles Coxson III, a member of the FAHSA Board of Trustees and the regional vice president of ACTS Retirement-Life Communities, Inc., Southern Division.
“The community he oversees has grown under his leadership -- not only in size, but also in the scope of services it offers to some 500 residents with modest incomes,” Mr. Coxson said. “In spite of financial challenges, he found a way to complete a state-of-the-art assisted living facility that enabled many residents to avoid nursing home placement.
“He’s a sensitive and caring person who is a ‘no-nonsense’ administrator when it comes to care and dignity of residents, and he expects his employees to treat every resident in the same way they would treat their mother.”
Receiving the “Executive of the Year” award was a great honor, Chief Binnicker said, but as his style, he downplayed his own role.
“It is a great honor to be recognized by FAHSA, but any success I enjoy is directly related to the outstanding folks who do all the work at Air Force Enlisted Village,” said Chief Binnicker who was the ninth chief master sergeant of the Air Force. “I have always tried to surround myself with very smart people, tell them what needs to be done and then get out of the way. I am very good at getting out of the way.”
“His whole career has been about taking care of people, and nowhere is that more evident than here at the Air Force Enlisted Village,” said Cathy Landroche, the AFEV’s director of marketing. “The staff and the residents here know that he loves this place and that he would do anything to ensure it’s the greatest play to live, and to work.”
At the AFEV, Binnicker oversees Teresa Village, an independent living apartment complex in Fort Walton Beach; Bob Hope Village, an independent living garden home complex on 80 acres in Shalimar; and Hawthorn House, a 64-apartment assisted-living residence on the Bob Hope Village campus. The AFEV was created to provide a home for the widows of enlisted Air Force members, and the majority of the population is Air Force widows in their 70’s and 80’s. When he was approached for the job as CEO, Chief Binnicker remembers telling the AFEV’s Board of Directors, “I’m not going to work here as just an apartment manager,” he said. “I’m not revolutionary, but I am evolutionary in a hurry.”
The “evolutionary” statement proved true in 2005, when Chief Binnicker led the culmination of a long-term dream of the organization -- the opening of Hawthorn House. The journey toward providing life care for residents was not without a struggle, Ms. Landroche said.
“An $8 million pledge for assistance fell through days prior to our groundbreaking; we saw the worst year on record for hurricanes in 2004, which caused a lot of damage, and despite these setbacks, Chief Binnicker managed to open Hawthorn House on time and under budget,” Ms. Landroche said. “Opening Hawthorn House was just one example of his leadership and his dedication to take care of our residents, no matter what obstacles he faces.”
FAHSA was established in 1962 as a Florida not-for-profit corporation. Its purpose is to provide leadership, advocacy and education for retirement housing and nursing home communities that serve the needs of Florida’s retirees. The association is comprised of more than 500 members, including about 370 retirement housing communities, assisted-living facilities, continuing-care retirement communities and nursing homes. More than 85,000 older persons reside in FAHSA-member communities.
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