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Debbie Allen: Finding Her Beach
By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter
TIBURON — Born in Panama City, Florida, a location famed for its picturesque beaches and tropical climate, it’s no surprise that Debbie Allen has a fondness for exotic destinations. “My dad was from the East Coast and my mom was from the West Coast, so I spent my childhood bouncing from one side of the country to the other before permanently moving to the Bay Area in high school,” she explains. More than 30 years later, Debbie says that while she enjoys life in the North Bay, she still makes regular pilgrimages to the locations that fulfill her tropical affinity. “I’m always in search of warm, sandy beaches. In addition to visiting my relatives in Florida each year, I take every opportunity to travel to places like the Bahamas.”
When asked how she first became involved in the senior care industry, Debbie’s explanation is straightforward. “When I was in college, one of my friends got a job at a nursing home in Tiburon,” she recalls. “It sounded intriguing, so I applied for a job as a caregiver and I’ve been doing it ever since.” As office administrator at Marin Convalescent & Rehabilitation Hospital, Debbie says her favorite part of the job is her daily interactions with the facility’s residents. “A lot of people are drawn to kids, but I’m drawn to the other side of the age spectrum. I just love being around elderly people, talking with them and hearing about their life experiences.”
When she’s not working or sunbathing on a far-off beach, Debbie can often be found hiking with her husband, Ken, and their French poodle, Cosette. “We love to be outdoors and do a lot of hiking, whether on local trails or at state parks like Yosemite.” In addition, Debbie and Ken enjoy showing their support for local sports teams like the San Francisco Giants and 49ers.
In the course of her career, Debbie says she’s learned how to effectively deal with the unexpected. “Some days you come to work with plans to accomplish a list of things, but as soon as you walk in the door, you find yourself running around and putting out fires. In these instances, you have to be okay with letting go of your plans and putting them off until tomorrow.”
When asked the first thing she’d do if she could retire tomorrow, Debbie’s response is characteristically straightforward. “I’d pick up a book, sip a cup of coffee and sit on my front porch,” she says. “Then, I would start planning my next trip to a sandy beach.”
Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant?
A: It’s a tie between Toast and Hilltop 1892, which are both in Novato.
Q: Reality TV or documentaries?
A: I like both, but if I really want to escape, I go to reality shows like “Survivor.”
Q: Which of the Golden Girls do you identify with most?
A: Probably Sophia, which is fitting since she’s the oldest of the group.
Q: Do you collect anything?
A: I collect seashells and sand from the beaches I’ve visited.
Q: What’s your favorite dessert?
A: Anything chocolate or lemon-flavored.
Q: Are you an early bird or a night owl?
A: I’m actually both, or, as I like to call it, a non-sleeper.