EDISON, NJ - One hundred may very well be Nellie Basile’s lucky number this month. In early March, Basile won $100 during a group trip to the Sands Casino in Bethlehem, PA and, on March 19, the JFK Hartwyck at Oak Tree resident celebrated her 100th birthday.

This milestone called for a special celebration and, on Friday, a surprise party for Basile was held at the Edison-based residential healthcare facility. Fellow residents, staff, nurses and members of Basile’s family gathered for the 100th birthday celebration which featured a decorations, a DJ, lunch – including some of the guest of honor’s favorite foods – and, of course, birthday cake. Additionally, Thomas Lanky, Mayor of Edison and senior vice president/chief operating officer of the JFK Health System, presented Basile with a proclamation.

“This is just wonderful,” Basile, who prior to the party went shopping with her two daughters but was in a rush to get back in time to attend what she thought was a scheduled Brown Cow Social. “I had no idea. This definitely was a surprise.”

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A great deal of effort went into planning the surprise party, including obtaining old family portraits and working to ensure that members of Basile’s family could attend. “I am so touched that everyone here took the time and effort to honor her,” said Basile’s youngest daughter Annette Creedon. “I am overwhelmed by the recognition for my mom.”

Born on March 19, 1916, Basile was one of 12 children and is the last surviving of her siblings. Originally from Bayonne, she and her late husband George, who passed away 10 years ago, had three children who gave her seven grandchildren, 10 great grandchildren (with another on the way) and two great, great grandchildren.

Basile attributes her longevity to a fantastic mother of her own along with a wonderful husband and great kids. “We didn't have everything but we managed,” she said, noting that she has seen so much over the past 100 years that she never thought imaginable. Her words of wisdom to others are ‘don’t worry about it, be good, try the best you can and believe in God.’ “Whenever you are in doubt, just say a prayer,” Basile said.

Basile has been a resident of JFK Hartwyck at Oak Tree since April 2010. Although she has physical limitations, Basile is sharp, alert, witty and extremely involved. Every morning she crochets, draws in her room and watches mass on Catholic Network. Then, it’s off to all late morning, afternoon and evening some evening programs including but not limited to cooking club and art therapy, scrapbooking, crafts, and jewelry making classes. She can often be found, cards in hand, at Black Jack Thursdays, plays Bingo, and attends the facility’s live weekly music programs. She especially likes when the children from JFK’s Keith Wold Johnson Children’s Day Care come to visit.

And Basile isn’t just involved on-site. She enjoys going on trips – whether it’s the casino, Monmouth Racetrack, a local lunch/ shopping excursion or a visit to the beach. She typically reads a book a week, participates in bi-monthly book club and, on nice days, can be found reading outside near the facility’s tranquil water feature.

“For Nellie, it’s all about quality of life,” said Cathy Wolpin, B.S., C.T.R.S., director of recreation at JFK at Oak Tree. “She loves socializing with and helping her peers and being involved in all activities.”

When she isn’t busy attending the day’s scheduled activities, Basile is with her family. She goes home for the holidays, some weekends and for special occasions, including last weekend’s ‘engagement party,’ which turned out to be yet another surprise party thrown by her family and attended by approximately 75 people.

“It’s not everyday someone turns 100,” said Basile’s only son, Greg. “She is the first in our family and we wanted to make it special.”

Marcy Desciscio, Basile’s oldest child, added, “She loves her family, always made sure the three of us were close and always told us if she could do it, we could. We really are blessed.”

About JFK at Oak Tree

Located at 2048 Oak Tree Road in Edison, JFK Hartwyck at Oak Tree is one of a limited number of facilities throughout New Jersey focused on specialized and innovative health care treatments while also offering a residential unit for long-term care patients. The 120-bed facility offers extended recovery brain injury care, ventilator care, sub-acute rehabilitation care, cognitive rehabilitation therapy, wound care, IV therapy, post-surgical care and respite care and also features a residential unit.

JFK at Oak Tree is run by a team of highly-skilled physicians, nurses, nursing assistants, therapists, social workers, dietitians, specialized respiratory therapists, cognitive therapists, head trauma nurses and support staff. Most medical treatment is provided on site and under the care of one’s own physician with patients transported to JFK Medical Center and other facilities for procedures such as chemotherapy and dialysis.

For more information on JFK Hartwyck at Oak Tree or visit www.jfkhartwyck.org or call 732-906-2100.

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