How “Being a friend” has made a difference.
Published on September 1, 2021
“Being a friend” is one of our founding Orange Dot Values at V!VA, so we spoke with a few of our Team Members to learn more about how friendship is central to life at V!VA Retirement Communities. Joining us from a few different V!VA locations are Matthew and Natasha, two of our Community Relations Managers, Karen, a Lifestyles Manager, and Kelly-Ann, one of our Culinary Managers.
Hi everyone – thanks for joining us today! Displaying kindness and respect to everyone we interact with can truly impact the experience in our Communities. What acts of kindness have you witnessed or experienced yourself at V!VA?
Matthew: The saying “it takes a whole village to raise a child” does not quite work here, but something like, “It takes a whole community to help my grandma” does. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, but using our strength to help other people overcome their lower points is what it’s like here at V!VA. From helping to read the menu to reminding a friend what suite they live in, from assisting with a mailbox key to helping pick up a dropped item, we all live and work together and help each other all day long!
Natasha: I couldn’t agree more with Matthew. I am always overwhelmed at how to open our Community Members are to going out of their way to make new Community Members and guests feel welcomed. My first day happened to be the annual Community Member Christmas Dinner. This could have been a pretty anxious experience if the team, as well as Community Members and families, were not so welcoming and eager to get to know me. I felt comfortable immediately.
Having to go through the challenges posed by the pandemic, I’m sure that our Community Members need for friendship was greater than ever. How did the V!VA team prioritize friendship during this tough time?
Matthew: Our Lifestyles team stepped up their game to make people feel seen, heard, and appreciated! From the theme carts that would go through the halls with music playing and fun games to play to V!VAnews that aired on our TV channel daily, we kept things very engaging here! Whenever we saw or heard that someone was down, we jumped into action and made sure the Community Member was safe, happy, and properly cared for. We really needed to stay attuned to people’s mental health, as well as their physical health.
Karen: It’s so true Matthew, during the pandemic we never lost sight of the fact that many in our Community struggled and every day the Lifestyles team created a list of those that needed a check-in, a friendly conversation, or a FaceTime or Zoom call with family. There was not one Community Member that became disconnected during this time at V!VA. I call it the 30-second miracle, just takes 30 seconds to check in on someone whether it be a Team Member or a Community Member.
The pandemic posed new challenges for V!VA’s Team Members. We know that so many of our Team Members are also great friends. How did friendship help the Team throughout the last year and a bit?
Kelly-Ann: The pandemic posed a particularly large challenge for my team. We just opened our new location right as the pandemic arrived, so most of our Team Members were hired during the pandemic and therefore didn’t have the opportunity to socialize outside of work. It was a stressful time learning both a new job and the rapidly changing protocols. There were challenges, but somehow through encouraging communication, bonding over the challenges, and being allowed to have fun, the friendships grew. We celebrated birthdays together. We celebrated milestones together, and before we knew it, we were not just colleagues in a difficult situation, but friends. I have had the opportunity to watch the friendship and bond grow within my team, and I am so thrilled that they now have the chance to spend time together outside of work. I know that the foundation was formed during the times when we had no one else to turn to except each other.
Matthew, being a friend is important for our health and wellness. What experience made your heart smile the most from being a friend to a Community Member or Team Member?
Matthew: This has been a challenging time and making sure to check in on certain people was very important during the pandemic. Many of our Community Members do not have loved ones who were able to visit. We had many Team Members take their place and do regular suite visits to chat. When the salon was out of service for a few months in a row, we had Team Members who went to different Community Members to give them spa treatments, perms, and haircuts. This made our Community Members feel better about themselves!
Karen: I can relate to this Matthew. During trying times, it was always important to do check-ins with Team Members as well. We can always appear to be doing well on the face of it, but many may be struggling under the surface. A quote I find applicable here: There are friends and there is family and there are friends that become family.
Given that it is International Friendship Month, what message would you like to leave with everyone?
Matthew: Friends will help carry you through the most difficult times in your life, make sure you show them how much you care about them!
Kelly-Ann: I agree and it may seem a bit cliché, but I think it’s so important. In every friendship, there will be wonderful days and days that are hard. Live in both, equally committed to the friendship. If we only value the wonderful days, we are doing a disservice to each other. The hard days are when we need each other the most; it is a privilege to have someone trust you enough to be that vulnerable. The wonderful days are the reward for being there on the hard days. Listen to understand and not to solve. Sometimes that’s the best way to Be A Friend.
Thanks so much, everyone – and Happy Friendship Month!