Be The Change at The Stratford

– Joe Green –

What is your position at The Stratford?

I am the Social Director. My position oversees all activities in the entire building as well as manages our concierge and drivers.

How long have you been at The Stratford?

I have been here for 11 amazing years. I cannot say enough how much my life has changed since I’ve been here.

What excites you the most about this position and this company?

Doing activities for seniors is one of the most rewarding things you can do. I am literally getting paid to make people happy. My reward for doing a good job is the smiles on their faces, making others happy is the greatest calling you could ever have in this world. To be able to live a life that I am able to do this daily is such a blessing and a true honor.

What is your favorite thing about working for Senior Living Communities?

Senior Living Communities is a caring environment that fosters growth in the lives of everyone in the building, Members and employees included. To have a company you can feel good about working for and be proud to be a part of is a major benefit in your work life.

Describe a time that a Member had a positive impact on your day?

There are so many of these every day. I am one that thrives off of people’s happiness. Seeing people that might be having a rough day and bringing a smile across their face is one of the best feelings you can experience. The Members are not just people I work with or for, they are family. This is shown in how they care for my family. I have two daughters and the Members ask about them constantly. My 4 year old actually runs to a few of the Member’s arms when she sees them because of the love they have shared over the years.

Have you utilized the Elevate program? If not, do you know someone who has?

Yes, I have. I received my Activities Director certification through our Elevate. This has allowed me to grow in my position and become a better person and activity professional.

How have you grown professionally and personally since joining the Team?

 I came to The Stratford in an overnight security position after being laid off from an automotive factory in 2009. Being out of work and the stresses that came with it tore my life apart. I lost my job, my house, and almost my family. God used this job to rebuild my entire life, making me a better person and I’ve become more stable in my life. While here I have renewed my marriage vows, been promoted 4 times, and had a second child. I have found my calling in life as someone that is working every day to make others happy and that makes me happy. The work I have done here has also seen me grow from an entry level position to management and has grown my character into a person I am proud to be.

What about your position allows you to pursue what makes you feel the most passionate in life?

The great thing is making people happy is the passion I have. This job allows me to do that on a daily basis and fuels that desire to greater highs over and over. I am happiest when I am around the people that I love, and they are happy.

When it comes to your programming, what is the motivation behind specific activities, events, programs that you do with your Members?

One of the major motivations behind programming is “are they going to enjoy it?” The second comes from our seven dimensions of wellness: Physical, Social, Environmental, Spiritual, Occupational, Emotional, Intellectual are the categories that we think about when looking at programs. Programs must fit into one or more of these categories in order to foster a well-balanced healthy lifestyle. This is one of the main building blocks of living The Weller Life.

Your community has a monthly social event called a Signature Experience, what is your favorite part of planning, executing, and experience itself?

The monthly Signature Experience is the day where we as Social Directors can push ourselves to see just how creative and great our programming can be. The purpose is to give the Members a chance to experience something they would not have the opportunity to anywhere else and leave them in awe of the experience. This event is where we tend to show off by shedding all restrictions and performing at the utmost level of excellence and it is thrilling.

Tell us about your favorite Signature Experience from your time at The Stratford?

My standard answer to this is “The next one is my favorite.” It is just too hard to narrow it down to just one, but there are highlights from different ones that stand out. Just this past February we had an experience dinner “Dinner on the Nile” during our Egypt experience. We built a working water feature from the corner of the dining room to the middle of the room and then put the tables around the “river”, it was amazing.

How does your community come together to work together to provide a vibrant social life for your Members? Dining, Wellness, Social?

Our community is well known for its collaboration when it comes to programming. Team Members all over the building will dress up on our theme days and take part in our programs. It’s great to have the costumes from every department helping add that little extra to the theme for the day.

A common misconception is that senior living social activities are all bingo all the time. How do you break that stereotype?

Bible Study and Bingo have been the staple of every nursing home for as long as I can remember, but we are not a nursing home. We are a retirement community. There is a huge difference. The main one is that when you retire you are not looking to sit around and do nothing all day. It is an important part of your life that you want to enjoy since you have worked so hard to have it. That is where we come in, we provide hundreds of programs monthly to stimulate your body, mind, and everything else. The enjoyment that comes from the lifestyle that we provide is extremely beneficial in the aspect of the seven dimensions of wellness.

How do you incorporate your Member’s feedback, personal lives, preferences, etc into your daily programming?

The whole point of programming is to offer things that will benefit the Member and do it in a way they will enjoy. The Members preferences are crucial and knowing them personally is wildly important when creating your program schedule. If you are scheduling things people do not like to do, you are wasting your time. In order for them to receive the 7 dimensions benefit they must be present, so you have to cater to the needs and wants of your group of people.

Fun Fact: What are a few of your favorite hobbies? What is something many people don’t know about you?

I recently have taken up BBQ or smoking food. This is a real craft that takes time to learn with great reward. I also like to fish, Catfish or Bass is my preferred catch. One thing people do not know or think of when they see a big guy like me is, I write poetry. I started a poetry group here a few years ago and have written several things to share with the group.

How has COVID-19 impacted your programming? Why are activities important during this time?

COVID-19 has turned the world of activities and social upside down and inside out. The ease of bringing people together to foster their social health actually puts their physical health at risk. It’s been a big learning curve for all of us, but we soldier on and try new things with extra safety precautions. Activities are extremely important. The 7 dimensions of wellness are key to helping you, I, and everyone live a healthy life. When you take away the social and environmental as we have the past few months, fear and depression fill those voids. With those your body starts failing and your physical, emotional, and intellectual health begin to crumble. Think of it as a teepee. 7 branches put up together to make the frame. Take one or two out and it may still stand but it will not be as strong or as stable.