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Shirley Perring

Four years ago, Crestview resident Shirley Perring wrote a letter to a dozen walk-in tub 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 also added that the residents at the low-to-no-income assisted living facility were playing bingo for toilet paper because funds were so scarce. Only one tub company replied: Nashville-based Safe Step Walk-In Tubs, the largest walk-in tub manufacturer in North America.

The company’s founder Mike Duffer made a promise to his mother—who kept his company alive during early tough times—that if the company had success, he would give back to the communities in which he does business. He created a national program of giving called Safe Step Cares, which has given away nearly 50 tubs in four years.

When Duffer read the letter from Shirley, he decided to do one better. He would donate 2 state-of-the-art hydrotherapeutic tubs due to the number of residents, and he would also donate toilet paper to the facility for life. And it wasn’t a PR fly-by, as Duffer and his PR agency’s president Derek Farley have made numerous visits to Crestview to meet with facility director Becky Brice Nash and Ms. Perring. Safe Step’s employees recently voted the Crestview Manor give away the most popular donation in the program’s four-year history.

Perring’s daughter Ronda decided to see if she could arrange another miracle: 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 6 hours while the tub was being installed. “Shirley is the very heartbeat of Safe Step Cares. She is the poster person for 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 was also in the know. 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 patiently waiting. When Perring entered her home, she yelled, “What is Derek’s rental car doing next door? 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. 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. Mike and Stuart give me the opportunity to play Superman, but they are the real superheroes.”