Episode 5: Transforming Communities and Services
Date: May 22, 2020
Hosts: Bryan Reynolds & Kristin Davenport
Guests: Resident Veverly Greene
Update from President & CEO Laura Lamb
Episode 5 Transcript
Bryan Reynolds [00:00:06] Welcome to Episode 5 of the Linkage podcast by Episcopal Retirement Services. This for the week of May 18th. And thanks so much for joining us. I'm Bryan Reynolds Vice, president of marketing with the Episcopal Retirement Services, and I'm here with Kristin Davenport, director of communications for ERS and our executive producer. How are you, Kristin?
Kristin Davenport [00:00:28] I'm doing well. Bryan, glad to join you today. This has been an interesting week where you've kind of got to make your own sunshine.
Bryan Reynolds [00:00:35] That's right. A lot of rain, a lotta a lot of flooding around here. So I'll be ready for some sunshine soon. So the Linkage podcast is dedicated to educating our audiences about issues regarding aging and talking to people about conditions. How that comes to life every day. Staff members and families, Kristin, tell us about the show that we've got coming up today.
Kristin Davenport [00:01:03] Bryan this week we've got one resident joining us and her name is Veverly Greene. Veverly lives at a Madison Villa in Madisonville down in the Cincinnati area. And of course, we will be checking in today with our president and CEO Laura Lamb. Laura is going to give us an update on what's been happening around our communities this week.
Bryan Reynolds [00:01:26] Sounds great. We've got another great show this week. So why don't we introduce our first segment with Veverly, Kristin?
Kristin Davenport [00:01:34] OK, so Veverly. She is a resident of Madison Villa. Veverly had a career both as a U.S. postal worker and as a home healthcare worker. Veverly retired to Madison Villa a few years back. And so she's really seen and witnessed the transition of the community there. Episcopal Retirement Services owns and manages that community now, and has been renovating it for a couple of years. Veverly is fortunate to live in one of the brand new apartments there. And she's seen the community become safer and just a better place for her retirement living. Let's meet Veverly.
Kristin Davenport [00:02:22] Welcome, Veverly. I'm so happy to have you here with me today. Our listeners are happy to be here and meeting you. Let's get right to our conversation. Veverly, how are you doing today?
Veverly Greene [00:02:35] I'm blessed, how are you?
Kristin Davenport [00:02:37] I feel the same. You know, even though it's raining outside. I told my husband today we're gonna make our own sunshine.
Veverly Greene [00:02:45] I try to do that each and every day.
Kristin Davenport [00:02:47] Oh, good. I wanted to share with our listeners some of the things that you and I talked about earlier. Tell me a little bit more about what it's like to live at Madison Villa now versus when you first moved there in 2011.
Veverly Greene [00:03:02] Well, it more peaceful. And I feel so much safer living here than I did before.
Kristin Davenport [00:03:08] Well, that is such good news. I think you live in one of the brand new apartments. Is that right?
Veverly Greene [00:03:14] Yes, that's correct.
Kristin Davenport [00:03:15] Yes. So we were able to get tax credits and be able to come in and renovate the whole campus. We're in the midst of that. But you've kind of lived through that construction. I'm sure you're glad that the dust is starting to settle now.
Veverly Greene [00:03:29] Oh, yes. I can see all the great improvements that they are making around here. I'm just waiting for the finished product. ... One of the things that I'm really looking forward to is the exercise room because so many of us could use that.
Kristin Davenport [00:03:48] Oh, that is such a good, a good thing to hear. I'm so glad that you're looking forward to that. We always do our best in every one of our communities to have a place where residents cannot just exercise but exercise together. That's always a more beneficial way to do it when you've got somebody that you can partner with. So right now we're looking at ways to make that a place that can be safe, too, because we've got to do that kind of thing six feet apart. But we're finding ways to do it.
Veverly Greene [00:04:19] Yes, and I'll be so glad when we can start our activities up again.
Kristin Davenport [00:04:25] Those yeah. Those are great. I know. They. Chris Lemon and the team there where they really put all their creative energy into thinking of new and creative ways to visit you guys and give you things to do and keep you engaged even though we're trying to stay six feet apart.
Veverly Greene [00:04:43] Yes. Oh, I enjoy Kristen's bingo over the phone. And she tries, she tries her best to keep things going for us, you know, like, I enjoy jigsaw puzzles. So she sees that I get those. So when I've done one, I call her and she gets me another.
Kristin Davenport [00:05:01] That's something you and I have in common. Jigsaw puzzles are a fantastic way to keep your mind working.
Veverly Greene [00:05:08] Yes. I never get to use my dining room table anymore, because of the puzzles.
Kristin Davenport [00:05:16] That is a good point.
Kristin Davenport [00:05:18] What is maybe some wisdom that you've got that you could share with our listeners about maybe some things you've lived through and how that's helped you kind of have a better perspective about this time that we're in right now?
Veverly Greene [00:05:32] I have lived through a lot of little turmoil things because I grew up well, actually, when segregation, and I thought that was a hurting day back in the day when I was younger, I couldn't sit at counters and all this stuff. See, I've been there for that. And to live through that, I felt like there couldn't be anything worse. Now I'm living through a thing where I'm basically being told that I have to stay in. And, you know, I'm usually my own rule-maker, but I have now I have to go by certain rules in order to stay alive. My only problem is I wish a lot of other people would want to adhere to the fact that mask and gloves and these can be very important to you. I just try to instill in people around me that it's important, you know, to wear your mask when you're in you're around us that are older than they are.
Kristin Davenport [00:06:27] You know, you've had some life experiences that have taught you these things. Being a home health care worker, I'm sure you've had experience with making sure you were keeping those that you were serving healthy. That's what we need to do right now, encourage each other to remember what those things are that are going to keep us safer. The distancing, wearing masks, not touching your face, washing your hands. It's going to take all those things. I was just listening to the governor yesterday and Dr. Amy Acton reminding us of those things, trying to keep everybody uplifted and positive that these are things that we can do and will do. And that's how we're going to get past this. We're going to reopen the economy, but we're gonna do it in a safe way. We're gonna be safe.
Kristin Davenport [00:07:12] Yes. What is your favorite activity that you're looking forward to? Once we get past all this.
Veverly Greene [00:07:17] I want to play pokeno again, with my friends. I like being close to my friends in the building. You know, we can get together. 'Cause we just act so silly. We call it. We call it. Actually, we don't call it our activities. We call it Kristen's senior daycare. If we all get together and have so much fun.
Kristin Davenport [00:07:42] Oh, that is a that's a beautiful image. I can imagine you altogether having a great, great time. Well, we will all be looking forward to that. And I appreciate your positive attitude and your thoughtful way that you're going about this. We really thank you for that. And thank you for being with us today.
Veverly Greene [00:08:00] Thank you so much for having me. I really enjoy talking to you.
Bryan Reynolds [00:08:12] That was a really interesting interview, Kristin, with Veverly. I really enjoyed hearing her describe the transformation of Madison Villa and that neighborhood over there. I've certainly driven by and really been wowed by the visual transformation of that neighborhood. Thanks for sharing that.
Kristin Davenport [00:08:32] Oh, you bet. Beverly was really an interesting interview. She is really connected and engaged with her neighbors and the staff there. And she's just looking forward to, you know, getting back to a time when it's safe for everybody to gather in the new community room and in the fitness center.
Bryan Reynolds [00:08:49] So, yeah, it sounds like she was thrilled with her new apartment, which, you know, we see time and time again as we renovate these communities. So that's fun to hear.
Kristin Davenport [00:08:58] Her apartment's larger. And she loves the flooring. And it's just been a real improvement for her life.
Bryan Reynolds [00:09:04] Awesome.
[00:09:05] So next up, we'll check in with our President and CEO Laura Lamb. It's always good Bryan to hear what Laura's got to say. She's definitely got her finger on the pulse. Let's get right to your interview with Laura.
Bryan Reynolds [00:09:26] So we're back with our weekly update with Laura Lamb, as always, Laura. It's a pleasure to connect with you. How are you?
Laura Lamb [00:09:34] I'm well, I'm well. How about you, Bryan?
Bryan Reynolds [00:09:37] I'm doing good. It's been a little bit of a dreary week, but what a productive week. That being said, so anything going on new in the Lamb household right now?
Laura Lamb [00:09:48] Oh, yeah. Jordan just sat for her boards. Many of you know, she's a third-year medical student and she took her boards on Monday. And I'm telling you that the tension in the house is gone. So she's. We call her happy Jordan right now. She's having a good time just relaxing. And she'll be leaving us next week to go back to quarantine in Pittsburgh before she starts her in-hospital rotation on June 10th. So we're just savoring the time with her. So enjoying it.
Bryan Reynolds [00:10:25] Yeah. Congratulations. As a proud parent. Congratulations to Jordan. But that's fabulous. I know my first high schooler, my first child graduating next week. So we're excited for that ourselves.
Laura Lamb [00:10:41] Good. It's so much fun to watch her. Our children, you know, despite everything that's going on, we're still able to celebrate their successes.
Bryan Reynolds [00:10:49] Absolutely. Absolutely. Well talk about celebrating successes. You know, one of the things that's come up, we've been working on a list of all the creative ways that we've responded to our residents and our staff. You know, in the past week, I thought that would be an interesting topic for this week. It just amazes me how kind of agile and responsive the organization has been during that time. Can you kind of talk to us about some of the examples that you've seen and been so proud of over the past nine weeks.
Laura Lamb [00:11:30] Oh, absolutely. I'd love to. Actually, I just a little bit of background. We're in this season of preparing for board meetings. And, you know, I was working on my board report and I was just overwhelmed. I mean, to see it in a consolidated fashion. So all the vice presidents give me their reports and I ask them to make sure that they were archiving and documenting that what I call the mission stories. And I typically highlight a few mission stories for the board. And I couldn't pick. It was such a nice problem to have.
Laura Lamb [00:12:05] I think, you know, just a few that really exemplified all the wonderfully creative, as you said, responsive approaches that we've had. So, you know, when in doubt, you know, I turned to, you know, how can we capture this? So we created .... It turned out Bryan to be a 16-page document with pictures. So I just say again, what a nice problem to have. And it reminds me of what my mom taught me growing up. She would. She was always said when life gives you lemonade. How many, how many or when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. And I'm sure many of our parents out there kind of instilled that kind of can-do attitude in us. And I think that that so exemplifies the ERS spirit. So I'd say, you know, don't give up on lemonade. And so just a few examples. You know, we can't have in-person classes for exercise and we know that our residents really love the benefit that they get by having exercise as part of their daily regimen. So our wellness directors, both in our retirement communities as well as our affordable living community, said, you know what? OK, we've got some lemons here. How can we do this differently and still provide that? So we now have online wellness classes that our residents can participate in. We also have, like, the exercise of the day. I was talking to one of our residents and she said, well, you interrupted me because I was doing the Dirty Dozen. And I'm like, what is the Dirty Dozen?
Laura Lamb [00:13:58] And Chloe, one of our wellness directors, calls the expert the twelve exercises that she encourages our residents to do daily. The Dirty Dozen. Oh, great. Love that. But obviously, it motivated, you know, the residents that she was, you know, upset with me that how dare I call during the Dirty Dozen. I just love that.
Laura Lamb [00:14:19] I think another example of our responsiveness is the Emergency Response Fund. We are fund development team, your team, the marketing team. Kind of early on understood that people wanted to help and people were just motivated to help. And candidly, we have needs. You know, we have affordable living residents that are unable to, you know, pay their rent because of changes that they're experiencing. We have affordable living residents that need access to toilet paper. And we had a donor and some match grants set up so that every resident in our affordable living communities could have a supply of toilet paper delivered to their home, which is just beautiful, just absolutely beautiful. We delivered in less than a week based on a generous donation. Bryan, ten thousand rolls of toilet paper. I was real about toilet paper, I've got to be honest with you. I was up at that all night and you know, remember the commercial who squeezed the Charmin? I'd be like, where's the toilet paper? Where's the Charmin? Where's the Charmin? Actually, we chose Angel Soft because Angel Soft really does say it all, doesn't it does.
Bryan Reynolds [00:15:38] It does. From the angels themselves.
Laura Lamb [00:15:41] Exactly. Exactly. I thought that was just so sweet.
Laura Lamb [00:15:45] And then, you know, another example I could go on all day, so you have to stop me. Another example is our pop up pantries. You know, we partnered with Sysco six weeks straight to offer refrigerated grocery store items to our affordable living residents and also to our frontline staff at all of our communities, because we understand that, frankly, when a nurse gets off duty, the last place we want her to go is to the grocery store. So we imagined how could we, you know, provide at least some of the grocery items that our staff needs. And it has been such a blessing. And I just want to again, thank Sysco Cincinnati for partnering with us on this amazing program. We have given our staff and our residents more than ten thousand dollars of donated grocery items from Sysco. So that was a beautiful thing to be a part of.
Bryan Reynolds [00:16:46] Yeah, what a great partner.
Laura Lamb [00:16:48] And then I guess lastly, I would just say that our life enrichment staff are probably the most creative people on our staff just by virtue of their job. They're the ones that do the creative events each and every day. And, you know, the pandemic has thrown a wrench in their toolkit, so to speak. You know, it's not you know, they can't have, you know, congregate activities. They really have had to say, what can we do differently? And not a surprise. These men and women that serve in life enrichment roles are, like I said, over-the-top creative. So a couple of examples. There is, I love this quarantine Bingo in most of our communities, affordable living, and the retirement communities and we've used technology. So on one campus you get a card each week and then you get a daily call through our resident checkups check-in system with the bingo number. Isn't that crazy?
Bryan Reynolds [00:17:53] It's great. I love it.
Laura Lamb [00:17:56] So you get something to look forward to in addition to, you know, the bingo game that you might Win. Win a prize. I was again talking to our resident the other day and she had just won a T-shirt as her bingo prize for winning that week's bingo. So, yeah, it's it's wonderful. ECH, the team down there, just the cutest pictures that I've ever seen. So imagine Nerf guns, right? Yeah. And imagine sitting in a lounge with a red solo cup sitting 12 feet away and imagine that we play games now of practicing. It's like target practice. Residents use their Nerf guns and they see how many red solo cups they can pick off. The over the.... bedside table, you know, twelve feet away from it is hilarious. It is hilarious.
Laura Lamb [00:18:54] It's just. And again, it just demonstrates to me the responsiveness that our staff has, the resiliency to say, you know, we can't do what we used to do, but we still need to serve and meet the needs of our elders. So how can we use our creativity, our technology, our God-given talents to pivot and do something different at this time? And I just want to thank each and every one of the staff members that are not just wallowing in the basket of lemons that we've been given. And instead, you know, taking those lemons and making something special. You know, it's a joke in our organization, this phrase now, because I use it so much that I had one manager say, well, my lemonade is diluted today, but it's still lemonade. And then I had another and other leaders say to me, Laura, is it OK to add vodka to the lemonade today? And yes, of course, our residents might enjoy that, too. But it's just wonderful what our team has been able to create.
Bryan Reynolds [00:20:03] Yeah, I really you've done a great job collecting those stories, and to see those pictures and the descriptions come has been so much fun. And so it just helps, you know, affirm all the great things of our staff does with our residents. So that's fun.
Laura Lamb [00:20:23] Bryan, I'm wondering if you know. Well, you know, we have this document. I'm wondering if our audience might like to see it. Maybe we can post it on our Web site at some point so that folks can take a look at themselves. It's really a beautiful piece, that kind of demonstrates all the wonderful work that's going on.
Bryan Reynolds [00:20:43] It's a great idea. I know the perfect place. We'll put it on our Coronavirus update page.
Laura Lamb [00:20:49] It's a great idea, a great place.
Bryan Reynolds [00:20:51] Good idea, Laura. Earlier you were talking about our generous donors. But we've had existing people that have really chipped in to help out around the organization. Can you tell us a little bit more about how these partners, these volunteers have really stepped up to help our organization in so many vital ways?
Laura Lamb [00:21:12] Sure can. Sure can. So the two that you mentioned are the ones that immediately come to my mind. Let's start with Parish Health Ministry. Again, Parish Health Ministry, overnight, their ability to serve the parishes changed. Right? And so the call to the parishes was based on a need. And this is actually quite a beautiful story because typically in Parish Health Ministry, we're providing support to the parishes. But now during the pandemic, we reached out to those same parishes and said, we need your help.
Laura Lamb [00:21:49] And boy, did they respond. Parish Health Ministry put out the call to the parish partners and asked specifically for the congregations across our dioceses to help us with a great need with personal protective equipment, PPE. And specifically, the call was to make homemade masks for our residents and staff that aren't working super close to our residents, more than the folks that are, you know, within a six-foot radius, not, you know, a direct care worker, because obviously, those folks need surgical masks. And they answered the call. You know, collectively, we have more than a thousand masks that have been made by our parish partners. And I just want a shout out to our very close partner, the Church of the Redeemer in Hyde Park. Their campaign was just amazing. It was organized. It had a goal. It had a campaign, a social media campaign to kind of get the word out. And I just thought, wow, what a neat example that the program that typically brings services to the parishes in a very loving response was now providing needed resources to the residents and staff of our communities.
Laura Lamb [00:23:12] So thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Laura Lamb [00:23:16] The other example is our Meals On Wheels program. We have two programs within our organization and Meals On Wheels is one of them that actually has been on a growth trajectory in the pandemic. There is a lot of need for people, homebound seniors in our community that need a nutritious meal. And so when other things are declining, Meals On Wheels has been increasing over these last eight weeks. And unfortunately, if you think about it or know anything about the Meals On Wheels program, we have a large portion of our volunteers that are seniors.
Bryan Reynolds [00:23:53] Right.
Laura Lamb [00:23:54] And candidly, I think the seniors made the exact right decision. You know, in good conscious we can't ask a senior during a stay-at-home order to leave their home and deliver a meal. So they made the right decision and they needed to suspend their volunteering for our program. Well, again, the community answered our call. We have seen an uptick and a rise in people that maybe are now at home with different schedules that have said, Where do you need our help? And we've directed them to our Meals On Wheels program. And it's just beautiful because all of our routes, every single one of them has been filled and they've been filled by the generosity of our local community rising to the occasion and volunteering for a route. So, again, thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Bryan Reynolds [00:24:51] Yeah, it's certainly been heartwarming to get all the support and to the point the social media campaigns and people reaching out to help the organizations. Well, Laura, thank you so much again for joining us this week. As always, a pleasure to get an update from you and have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend and talk to you next week.
Laura Lamb [00:25:16] You do the same. Bryan. Thank you.
Kristin Davenport [00:25:25] Bryan, thanks for checking in with Laura this week. It was really good to hear her again. Give us that update to hear about volunteers, what they are doing from Parish Health Ministry to Meals On Wheels. It was inspiring to hear all that work that's happening.
Bryan Reynolds [00:25:40] Yeah. Yeah. It's always fun to hear from her. She's always got great stories from throughout the organization. I particularly enjoyed, you know, really talking about how our team has been very agile in a time where we need to be creative and supporting our residents to have engagement and to take care of their needs during this COVID-19 period. So that was fun.
Kristin Davenport [00:26:06] All right. Well, thanks for a good show.
Bryan Reynolds [00:26:08] That's it for the show today. Thank you so much for joining this latest episode of the Linkage podcast by Episcopal Retirement Services. For more information, you can visit our Web site at Episcopalretirement dot com. We've lots of great content, including our linkage online blog resources to learn more about aging and the services we offer and so much more. You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube to see what's going on within our ERS communities as well. If you have any questions or feedback from us, and we love getting feedback, you can e-mail us at info at erslife dot org. The linkage podcast is produced by Kristin Davenport and Bryan Reynolds. Feoshia Davis is our associate producer, our technical director is Michelle Hoehn, who has done such a great job week in, week out, putting the show together. I'd like to thank our guests today, including Veverly Greene and of course, Laura Lamb, particularly for always being available for us for the show. So on behalf of myself, Bryan Reynolds and Kristin Davenport, thank you so much for joining us. We look forward to our episode next week.
Bryan Reynolds [00:27:16] Thanks so much, Kristin.
Kristin Davenport [00:27:18] Enjoy your weekend, Bryan. Thanks.
Bryan Reynolds [00:27:20] You too. Happy Memorial Day.