CRESTVIEW — Four years ago, Crestview resident Shirley Perring wrote a letter to a dozen manufacturers asking for a walk-in tub for Crestview Manor on Pearl Street.
She described the bathing conditions as “something out of ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.’” She added that residents at the low-to-no-income assisted living facility were playing bingo for toilet paper because funds were so scarce.
Nashville-based Safe Step Walk-In Tub Co., was the only manufacturer that replied. The company’s founder, Mike Duffer, donated two hydrotherapeutic tubs, due to the number of residents, and he decided to donate toilet paper for life at the facility. Duffer and his PR agency’s president, Derek Farley, have made numerous visits to Crestview to meet with the Manor’s facility director, Becky Brice Nash, and Perring.
Recently, Perring’s daughter, Ronda, asked if she could arrange a donation: a walk-in shower for her mother, who has spent her entire life giving while never asking for something herself. Duffer immediately approved the request and Farley coordinated a scheme that would keep Shirley out of the house for six hours while the tub was being installed.
“Shirley is the very heartbeat of Safe Step Cares,” a media release from the company stated. “She is the poster person for the philanthropy; and when we heard that she could use an assist herself, giving her a shower was one of the quickest decisions in company history.”
Farley met Perring for lunch after a few bogus meetings were created by her company, Jackson Hewitt, who knew about the plan.
Farley and Perring said their goodbyes in the parking lot of Cracker Barrel and then Farley raced to the Perring residence, where Ronda, daughter Sinder and husband Don were waiting.
When Perring entered her home, she yelled, “What is Derek’s rental car doing next door?” and “I can still smell his cologne.”
Busted, Farley tried to backpedal and say he just wanted to meet her husband and daughters. But it was too late, as Farley’s agency video guru John Deaver, had the cameras rolling. An installer was spotted and then Farley led her to the bathroom, where Perring broke down in tears upon seeing her new walk-in shower.
“This is beyond amazing,” she said. “Mike Duffer, Stuart (Hall, Safe Step CFO) and Derek are angels on earth. They restore my faith in companies, they restore my faith in humanity.”
Farley also visited Crestview Manor, treating the residents to pizza for lunch, which he delivered himself.
“I’m just a proud messenger with the greatest PR gig in the world,” he said. “Mike and Stuart give me the opportunity to play Superman but they are the real superheroes.”