13 Dec Giving Back to the People Who Give Their All
How Westerwood Celebrates Its Exceptional Staff
The first time you set foot on the Westerwood campus, you’ll sense something special. It’s a feeling of warmth, camaraderie and genuine caring that permeates every corner of our vibrant community. This is in great part due to the commitment and contributions of our exceptional staff.
See how Westerwood residents honor the staff’s efforts by making the most of a time-honored holiday tradition.
A Spirit of Togetherness
“To say the employees at Westerwood mean a lot to the residents would be an understatement,” says Director of Human Resources, Jennifer Sanchez, while resident Gift Fund chair Allan Colgan nods.
“We’re blessed, and most of us know it, and we know that the staff goes out of the way at times to make sure that we get the best quality of care and service that is humanly possible,” Allan says. “I’d like to point out that I like calling them staff because it feels more family-oriented to say. This is a family atmosphere and we’re essentially working together.”
How We Raise the Employee Gift Fund
The fundraising campaign kicked off Nov. 6th and continues through November 20th. Residents may contribute as much or as little as they wish.
The Employee Gift Fund was likely established over 40 years ago, and is divided into three subsections, Allan explains. The main subsection for the gift committee consists of independent living, with separate funds for assisted living and the health center. Although all three subsections operate independently during the two-week fundraising campaign, total amounts collected from each area will eventually be combined.
Then, to ensure staff members receive a fair monetary gift from the fund, Westerwood’s accounting team applies a formula based on a staff member’s total accumulated hours for the year.
As far as I could figure out, the system we have is probably the fairest and most equitable system that could be devised so that nobody’s overlooked,” Allan says. “And nobody is favored more than another because of the position they may or may not have.”
Once everything has been calculated, gift checks and accompanying personalized letters are distributed during the annual holiday party—where they’ll also name the employee of the year.
“We do it because we care,” Allan says. “That’s the secret of a family.”
In addition to the Employee Gift Fund, Westerwood residents can also give back to staff in other ways, specifically the Hero Fund and Staff Scholarship Fund, Jen explains. Established in 2020, the Hero Fund was formed in response to the financial struggles caused by the pandemic. This philanthropic fund is still going strong and receives ongoing donations from residents, families, and team members. Since its inception, over $15,000 have been distributed to team members to help with costs like rent, car repairs, groceries, school supplies for their children, funeral expenses, etc.
“I’m not certain how long our staff scholarship fund has been in place but it’s been around a long time and we’ve had countless employees take advantage of this program,” Jen says. “I believe we received a donation of over $100,000 just in the past week. Our residents really care for and support our staff, it’s just incredible!”
Did you know?
Holleran also conducts a survey geared for Westerwood’s independent living residents. In that survey, resident participation was 99.9%.
Of course, residents aren’t the only people taking notice of how special the Westerwood community is. For eight consecutive years, Westerwood has been named a Top Workplace as well as a Holleran Choice Employer for two years running.
Each honor is based on results from employee surveys by Energage and Holleran respectively.
“We just finished our Top Workplace survey for this year, but we won’t get results until January,” Jen says. “That award is special to us because it’s our team members telling us how they feel about working at Westerwood.”
Beyond the data, Jen notes how incredible the employee tenure is in this community.
“There are so many of us that have worked here on the leadership team 10-plus years, and that’s just absolutely unheard of,” she says. “And you know, in this industry, it just speaks volumes because it’s such a special place that people are not going to leave.”
She adds that there are employees who choose a 45-minute commute because of the relationships they have with residents and other employees—even if they could work closer to home.
“I don’t know how to really describe the atmosphere here, but it’s just very, very friendly, very giving and caring,” Jen adds. “Everybody just seems to look out for one another.”
Does Westerwood sound like a community you’d like to be a part of? Come and experience our amenity-packed 23-acre wooded campus and meet the people who help make our residents feel right at home. Schedule a visit by reaching out to (614) 568-0503 today!
Westerwood’s Team Member Recognition Appreciation Committee (aka TRAC) would like to recognize the following staff members for their 40 years of service in 2023!
“Ginny” Virginia Stollings – Start date: 1/3/1983
About Ginny: She started out as a dining room server, then transitioned to the dish room as a utility worker; she met her husband, Mike, while working here in 1992. They married the following year. In 2007, Ginny transferred from the dining room to the dish room and has worked as a dishwasher ever since.
Why she likes working at Westerwood: “I’ve stayed for the residents and staff, and just working here. I have an enjoyable and fun day with people and the residents. It’s home to me. I just like coming in.”
From Ginny’s supervisor, Jay Dorsey, Director of Dining Services: “I came to Westerwood to find a hidden gem in the form of Ginny. Those that know the culinary industry, know it’s hard to find and retain good employees. Ginny has been here for 40 years and has endured a lot of changes over the years. She still manages to maintain her area of the kitchen and her consistency is remarkable! She is truly an exemplary employee. Thank you, Ginny, for being a part of our team and look forward to many more years.”
Bonnie Smith – Start date: 9/5/1983
About Bonnie: She started as a housekeeper and worked in that role for about three years before getting promoted to a housekeeping supervisory position and even filled in temporarily when the Director role was vacant. Bonnie continued to serve in various roles within the environmental services department (housekeeping, laundry, janitorial, floor tech, etc.) over the years and now serves as a full-time laundry aide.
Why she likes working at Westerwood: “I like working with the residents and stay because of them.” Bonnie shared stories and experiences the residents have shared with her over the years, as well as all the changes in the building and the staff. She fondly recalled how she used to give laundry tours to the residents after they relocated down to the basement in 2000—after the addition of Assisted Living.
From Bonnie’s supervisor, Katie Sulser, Director of Health & Safety Services: “Bonnie really takes pride in serving the community and the residents. She’s always very pleasant and seems to have really enjoyed all her years of service. Bonnie always demonstrates a positive attitude and I appreciate her willingness to take on additional tasks.”