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“Baby it’s cold outside!”
Whether you agree or disagree with the controversy about the song by that name, there can be no debate about the veracity of that statement since the start of the new year in general, and the last several weeks in particular.
Baby, it has been cold…in fact, it’s been a veritable polar vortex with below zero temperature readings unprecedented in this neck of the woods. And, adding insult to injury, it’s been icy, windy, snowy and just plain miserable in the weeks before and after the vortex.
Yet, throughout this onslaught of brutal Midwestern weather, residents of Friendship Village and GreenFields have enjoyed the benefits of living in a warm, carefree, fun-filled bubble, untouched by climatic forces, and with easy access to everything they could possibly want or need within their walls.
The unscathed lives of our residents were sustained thanks to a lot of planning and forethought, and the willingness of our associates to step in.
“We haven’t done anything like this since the blizzard on Ground Hog Day in 2011,” said Rick Paisley, who helped to implement an emergency weather plan. Paisley oversees a team of approximately 100 associates in housekeeping, laundry, maintenance, and resident services. A plea went out for associates willing to stay overnight to ensure that there was no lapse in services the next day. Almost a dozen associates stepped forward.
“We had vacant rooms and model apartments that we were able to make available for the associates to sleep in,” said Paisley. “We had some extra beds, and some blow-up mattresses left over from the 2011 weather emergency.”
Most of the associates who stayed did so to work in their regular roles. Others though, found themselves knee-deep in water…literally and figuratively. “On Monday night, we had a pipe burst at GreenFields,” said Patty Sanches, director of human resources. “Everyone helped out, with some managers who had already headed home for the evening, turning around and coming back to pitch in.”
Paisley said that he was proud of, but not surprised by the associates’ willingness to stay overnight. “Even though there was some financial incentive, the fact that they stayed really demonstrated their commitment to service. We frequently talk about the fact that we work in our residents’ homes, and they ultimately become like family to us. There’s a strong desire to be there for them,” he said. “The associates want to make sure that the residents continued to get the services they deserve in spite of the weather.”
A side benefit, Paisley said, was that the overnights became a bonding opportunity for the associates. “We had it arranged so each person could have their own apartment, but a lot of them wanted to share. It turned out to be a slumber party.”
The development and implementation of the emergency weather plan was also evidence of the commitment of Friendship Senior Options management to its residents. “We offered financial incentives, transportation vouchers, and meals to the associates. We also arranged for a towing company to be on hand to jump associates’ cars if needed,” said Sanches. “We wanted to show our appreciation to the associates who were going the extra distance for our residents.”
-20 = the temperature in the Chicago area on January 30th and 31st
31 = associates who worked overtime
10 = associates who stayed overnight at FV
5 = associates receiving help starting their cars by Redmon’s Towing Company which was reimbursed by FSO
0 = residents were negatively impacted by the weather