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Founder’s Story

One Small Black Box Contains So Many Big IdeasDwayne Clark, founder and CEO of Aegis Living

Years ago a young boy went to visit his grandmother at one of those old-fashioned “nursing homes.” It was a gloomy sort of place. Day after day, the elderly men and women stared sadly and silently out their windows. The young boy saw this, and his heart went out to them.

When Dwayne Clark, the founder and CEO of Aegis Living, became a young man, he went to work for an assisted living community. Again, he saw sadness in the eyes of the residents. He dreamed of making their lives brighter and more hopeful — but the company turned a cold eye on his ideas. “Quit dreaming,” they told him. “Just do your job. The old ways are good enough.”

And Dwayne did do his job — but he never stopped dreaming. Long into the night his imagination soared. Year after year he wrote down beautiful, wonderful, impossible ideas for bringing joy, comfort and meaning to the lives of the elderly. He kept his ideas in a battered black box and never lost hope. “Someday,” he vowed, “I will start a new kind of company, and the ideas in this box will be our guiding stars.”

Sure enough, today there are 28 Aegis Living communities. Each has become a beacon of hope and innovation for thousands of seniors and their families. Each employs big-hearted people who care — and care deeply — about the quality of life of their residents. And each community has its very own black box — a place of honor where every employee can submit his or her most beautiful, wonderful, impossible ideas for making life better.

Visit Dwayne Clark’s blog.