Community Feature

Embracing Life in the Country was the Best Decision for Atlanta Couple

October 29, 2019

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Interview with Atlanta, Kan., Resident Katie Gleichman

Balancing a demanding full-time job with family life can be difficult for anyone. A wife and mother of two, Katie Gleichman is a District Director of Operations for Brookdale Senior Living – supporting 10 senior living communities in Arkansas, Kansas City, and St. Louis.

While she has a big job, there are a few key factors that allow her to find that balance between developing a successful career while enjoying country living with her family. A district management position gives her the flexibility to work from just about anywhere in the region. Because SKT’s High-Speed Internet and Phone services are available, “anywhere” is just outside of Atlanta, Kan. – population 192 – hundreds of miles from her facilities. As a working mom, it’s also important that her girls are well cared for, and who better to look after them than their dad, Joe, “the best stay-at-home dad you have ever met!” This all adds up to give the Gleichman family the rural lifestyle they have come to love.

Katie, Joe, and their two daughters, Eleanor, who is three years old, and Josie, one, live on a 365-acre farm in the property’s original 1897 farmhouse. This unique opportunity to live on a family property arose in 2014 when Joe’s aunt, who lived in the farmhouse, passed away. Joe asked Katie if she would ever be willing to live out that far. Her answer was yes, and Katie exclaims, “Well, we have been here ever since and love it … I can say that raising our girls out here has been one of the best decisions we have ever made!” The move also situated them near family just as they were beginning their journey of raising their two daughters under the age of two. Katie exclaims, “It takes a village, right?”

Katie and her family use their SKT Internet connection for her work, their cell phones, laptops, and streaming TV. Their SKT home phone is helpful for Katie’s business conference calls and ensures that she has a dedicated landline for work purposes. Katie adds, “We are very happy with SKT services. Living out in the country, it is hard to find an Internet provider that is reasonable and has fast Internet. This is imperative for someone who works from home, and for a home that uses Internet for streaming TV.”

Katie is originally from Derby, Kan. Upon earning her bachelor’s degree in communications from Wichita State University, she moved to Kansas City in 2009, where she began her career in senior living, gaining experience in various roles ranging from sales to operations.

“I love helping people,” she said. “The transition time of needing to find senior living for your loved one can be completely overwhelming and oftentimes heartbreaking for families. I love that I can help coach and assist my teams in ensuring they provide the very best experience for these families, who come to us at such a crucial time in life.”

Currently, Katie splits her time between her home office and traveling to her communities. She’s among about 50 percent of employed Americans who work remotely, a growing trend driven by improvements in technology and increased access to high-speed Internet service. For Katie, the benefits of working remotely go beyond enjoying country living though. She’s thankful that her job allows Joe, her husband, to stay at home with their girls.

She met Joe, who originates from Kansas City, in 2010 via a blind date set up by friends. They never looked back, marrying in 2013. The Gleichmans were devastated when they lost their first child at 19 weeks’ gestation. Following the in-depth sonogram ordered for their second child, they thought they might never be able to have babies of their own. It revealed several anomalies, including bilateral clubbed feet, clinched fists with overlapping fingers, scoliosis of the spine, and – the gravest concern of all – a bell-shaped chest preventing the lungs from developing. Prognosis:  Their baby would not be able to breathe outside of the womb; therefore, their daughter’s anomalies were not compatible with life. Katie and Joe were given the option to terminate the pregnancy but chose to proceed – instead utilizing perinatal hospice and planning a funeral rather than preparing to bring a baby home from the hospital.

When baby Eleanor began crying, they’d never heard a sweeter sound, and Joe tearfully reported back to their families that their little girl had defied the odds. She spent just two days in the NICU, eight days in special care, and came home with no oxygen assistance. And because they wanted to document every single second their child might be breathing, be awake, or even be alive, they hired a videographer to record Eleanor’s birth – and much to their surprise and delight – her homecoming! Their story has inspired so many, and the Gleichmans love sharing it.

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Baby Eleanor's Birth Story

After Katie started her work-from-home schedule and they moved to Atlanta, Joe was able to quit his full-time job to stay home with Eleanor. That gave Joe the freedom to take Eleanor to her frequent doctor and therapy appointments locally and also gave them flexibility when scheduling appointments that were out of town or even out of state.

Eleanor has come a long way in just three years. Her feet were corrected, and she began walking two months after her second birthday. Therapy continues for her hands, and the scoliosis of her spine is being addressed now. Eleanor’s special needs are all physical; cognitively, she is a super-smart little girl, sweet, loving, and well-mannered. Her personality is such that she endures each difficulty gracefully, taking it all in stride. They are so grateful to be her parents, Katie says, adding, “Having a child with special needs really teaches you so far beyond anything that you could ever teach them. It’s opened our eyes to other families who have had to deal with anything like this … you just relate on a different level once you’ve experienced it first-hand.”

The couple welcomed Josie, a healthy girl, in 2018. Eleanor loves being a big sister, and the two became fast friends. Like any working parent, Katie does her best to juggle work responsibilities with family time.

“Being a working mom has its own set of challenges,” Katie said. “Throw in work travel, and you begin to long for your days in the home office!”

Those days in the home office help Katie spend more time with her family, soaking up every minute of the girls’ childhood. Raising their girls in Atlanta really is the best decision they’ve ever made.