Mother-Daughter Duo Shares Passion for Working with Seniors

She was hesitant to try to follow in her mother’s formidable footsteps. However, she finds that she’s successfully walking alongside her mom on her own. 

Annabelle (Annie) Tomko began working as a dining room server at GreenFields of Geneva late last year. Her mother, Karen Tomko, is the (much beloved) Community Engagement Manager of the senior living community. “A friend of mine has been a server there for two years. She talked about how fun it was and how flexible the scheduling was,” said Annie. Finding a job that would accommodate her participation on the school tennis team was a huge perk for the 16-year-old student at Geneva High School. “I thought it would be a good job for me,” she said. And it is. 

Her mom has worked at GreenFields for three years and in senior living for three years before that. “It’s always been cool to see how enthusiastic and creative she is and how happy she is with her job. She was excited when I told her I was going to work at GreenFields too. We get to share what happened in our day,” said Annie. “I’m always introduced to residents as ‘Karen’s daughter.’ The residents love her, and I feel like I have big shoes to fill.” 

Annie quickly realized that she shares her mother’s passion for working with older adults. “I found I really love the residents here. It feels like I have 200 grandparents, which is awesome. I love being part of helping them to live the best life they can. They’re so nice and welcoming and treat me with so much grace,” she said. “I started to build personal relationships with the residents, not just based on dining, but talking about how their day was. We talk about their past; they have wonderful life experiences. I see married couples and admire what love looks like for them, and I see how the residents enjoy their friends. I get to experience their authenticity.”

Annie said that she finds her job so fulfilling that she has, in fact, changed her 

career aspirations. Before working at GreenFields, she thought she’d like to work as a physician in sports medicine or orthopedic surgery. “I still want to go into medicine, but I specifically want to work in geriatrics and help seniors,” she said.

“We’re so glad to welcome students from the area to work at GreenFields. The intergenerational component is important and makes the residents so happy. But it also introduces the young people to experiences and maybe even careers they wouldn’t otherwise have anticipated,” said Tony Madl, Executive Director of GreenFields.

“GreenFields is a great community and one that I’d want my grandparents to live in. Working here has shifted my outlook on how people’s personalities don’t diminish as they age. They stay the smart, funny, friendly people they’ve always been,” Annie said.

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Posted on Jun 12, 2022