Kyisha Branch wasn’t doing anything out of the ordinary other than being herself. She was coming out of a resident’s room after completing her cleaning duties at The Chelsea at Clifton, a leading Assisted Living and Memory Care community in Passaic County, New Jersey. She noticed a resident working with a physical therapist. Branch, who is outgoing, compassionate, and has a self-proclaimed “big mouth,” started shouting words of encouragement toward the resident.
“Put your head up, hit that runway,” she remembers saying. “The resident looked up…”
[she pantomimes by picking her head up, eyes bulging to copy the resident’s expression]
“and gave me such a joy. And he started moving fast.”
That moment, as she said, turned into something special, far beyond perhaps what Branch even understood at the time.
Branch started working as a housekeeper at Chelsea Senior Living in November 2021.
“It feels like forever when you build relationships and connections,” she said.
Long before that, though, she started a clothing and styling business built out of passion. For the last 26 years, she’s been running Kyisha’s Korner Boutique.
“Fashion is a happy place,” Branch said. “From that happy place that I have in my outside life, I wanted to bring it to Chelsea to see the residents have that happy place.”
She proposed the idea of a fashion show and it was well received.
Leading up to the big day and before showtime, she had help all around at The Chelsea.
“Some of the nurse’s aides helped get them dressed,” she said. “On my break time, I was ironing all of their stuff. I got a dolly. I hung up all their stuff and I labeled them.”
During the show, they rolled out the red carpet, brought in a DJ, and a photographer. Residents were grouped by themes such as “Behold the Black, White, and Gold,” “The Cool Guys of Chelsea,” “Sports and Shorts,” and “Cottage Hits the Catwalk.”
“I wanted to accent their smiles with a lot of colors,” she said. “If you look at the pictures, you’ll see a lot of color added to the smiles and joy that was shared in the room.”
Residents had ear-to-ear smiles as they strutted down the carpet waving and gallantly bowing or curtsying to a familiar audience.
“One resident, she threw her walker when she hit the top of the runway,” Branch said. “She sat up, put her hands on her hips, it was just amazing.”
There was also a crowning ceremony for all the ladies in which they received a tiara and a flower.
“One of the residents she doesn’t remember a lot, but the next day she was talking about the fashion show all day,” she said.
After the show was over, all residents came together for one big dance party.
“It was a real success,” Branch said. “It was a success. A true success.”
Her positive attitude, bright spirit, and dedication has led to being promoted as the new Lifestyle Director at The Chelsea at Clifton.
Branch no longer has biological parents or grandparents, but she said the residents have become her family.
“They call me their sunshine and they have no clue how much sunshine they bring to my life,” Branch said.