A 101st birthday celebration at our Mills Estate Villa community was no run-of-the-mill, ordinary 101st birthday. The specialness of the event was not because Ludmila (Mila) Davis’ 101st birthday happened to be on Christmas day either. The 101st birthday celebration is special because it serves as a reminder of how important it is to mentor our younger generation.
Over 60 years ago, Mila’s willingness to mentor a young Italian immigrant is the reason a family business is providing loving care to Mila today. The young woman mentored was our founder, Wilma Cimino. While today Wilma is still considered a “spring chicken” at 80 years of age, still leading our family’s senior living business, the special relationship between Mila and Wilma started way back in 1958. They first met at Church—Mila, a highly regarded nurse manager at Bay Area hospitals—Wilma, then, a recent immigrant who couldn’t speak a word of English but possessed a very strong work ethic. In time, Mila took Wilma under her wings and mentored her and her family.
Fast forward 61 years and picture Wilma and her compassionate team at Mills Estate Villa, a 47-bed Assisted Living community in Burlingame, CA, caring for Mila. Yes, this relationship has come full circle, and so celebrating this 101st birthday at Mills Estate Villa has a deep and special meaning to both Mila and Wilma. It is fair to say that this community is not just a home Mila lives in today, but more so, it is a place she helped “create” and inspire.
Mila had a very accomplished career as a highly educated nurse. In the late ’50s, Mila worked at Mt. Zion as an OR Nurse, at Peninsula Hospital as the OR Director, and then at Stanford Medical Center as the Director of Surgery and Emergency. She worked during the early years of heart transplantation and was a respected professional and author of many historical articles. She also knew how important compassionate care was and knew that patients, especially the elderly, needed more people like Wilma to provide respectful, quality care.
Mila was more than a family friend; she was a mentor and early supporter to Wilma Cimino and her vision to change how care was provided at home and in care homes. As a highly successful nurse manager, Mila quickly recognized Wilma’s work ethic, compassion, and skill, and thus entrusted Wilma to care for Mila’s very own mother. Imagine the pressure of knowing that you are tasked for private-duty care for the mother of such a highly regarded nurse manager?
Wilma was honored and took the assignment with confidence. In fact, Mila can be credited for being the very first to introduce and more meaningfully, entrust Wilma to caring for seniors. In time, Wilma’s reputation caring for others in the church and throughout her neighborhood grew. Mila’s mentorship to Wilma became instrumental as she encouraged and inspired Wilma and her family to start the family senior living business. When Wilma and her family set up their first official Board and Care home, it was Mila who wrote the required recommendation letter to receive licensure from the state in1988, launching what is today CiminoCare.
The shared love of care and experience inspired what is one of the cornerstones of our company culture: valuing not only delivery of excellent personal care, but personal and professional growth amongst the team as well. Today, most CiminoCare community administrators were once strong caregivers, leaders on the floor.
“Mila recognized in my mom very good qualities and values that made her the outstanding business owner and mentor to all of us siblings over the years. She not only started the family residential care business but she taught us how to make each of our communities a place of caring. We can thank Mila for giving mom not just her start, but a big vote of confidence in our abilities to care for others,” said MaryAnn Shinn, co-partner of CiminoCare.
As the CiminoCare family business grew, and more time passed, Mila, in another vote of support and trust, in 2010, moved her late husband Keith, the love of her life, into Mills Estate Villa, a community-operated and owned by the Cimino family.
In July 2017, when it was time for Mila to move into a community, there was no question where she would go, and that was Mills Estate Villa. “Our values of respectful care were a development from our early interactions with Mila, so being able to provide this kind of care directly to Mila is an honor. She is still mentoring us, reminding us that every person that we care for has a long, rich history that needs to be explored and valued,” added MaryAnn.
“Many years ago, she believed in mom, not only encouraging her, but entrusting first her mother, and later her husband, into mom’s care. And now we, as a family, are able to come full circle with her by being entrusted to care for Mila. It is a great honor for us,” said Mark Cimino, CEO.
“We can look back in our organizational history and find special people who are impactful along the way. Mila is one of those extraordinary people. She was always there for mom and our family as we grew from the very humble beginning of mom providing ad hoc in-home care, to the regional operator of senior living communities CiminoCare is today. Mila is part of the heart and soul of CiminoCare. Celebrating her 101st birthday now at Mills Estate Villa is indeed, a deeply profound honor,” continued Mark Cimino.