Residents, staff at Brooksby Village find new ways to carry on

In search of the silver lining

When Arleen Mednick moved to Brooksby Village with her husband Ralph in 2018, she didn’t waste any time exploring the clubs and activities at the Erickson Living developed and managed community in Peabody, Mass., had to offer.

“I jumped in with both feet and had a wonderful time,” says Arleen, co-chair of the Concerned Citizens group and a member of the Current Events group and the Diversity Committee. She also takes improvisation classes and serves as a floor captain in her residence building.

So, when the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in stay-at-home orders, Arleen found the blank calendar disconcerting.

“As floor captain, I was making calls to neighbors and having chats with everybody, but I wanted to do more,” says Arleen. “That’s when I had the idea for a socially distanced floor party. The doors to our apartments are more than six feet apart, so if we all stayed in our doorways, we could still have a little fun.”

Ralph and Arleen’s corner apartment affords a view down two corridors in their residence building.

“At the scheduled time, we all stood in our doorways and told jokes, sang songs, and enjoyed an uplifting time,” says Arleen, who wore a purple wig, her signature color, to add a little levity to the event.

The initiative was so well received, neighbors agreed to stand in their doorways for another socially distanced party the following week. This time, CTV Coordinator Sarah Blackstone filmed the event to air on Brooksby TV, the community’s in-house television station.

“Since our regular programming has been impacted by the stay-at-home orders, the television channel is airing ‘Pirate TV,' where staff and residents take over the station to offer inspiration and ideas,” says Arleen. “Within the first week, our floor party had over 140 views. I felt like a rock star.”

‘Rising to the occasion’

Just as residents of Brooksby Village adapted to a new way of life, so too did the staff.

“Our team is responding in real-time,” says Executive Director Tracie Bettano. “They’re filling roles outside of their normal scope of responsibilities and stepping up to do what’s needed for the health and safety of our residents.”

For the pastoral ministries team, that means serving in a whole new way. They’ve been at the front gate, screening people entering the community. They’ve assisted with concierge services, purchasing and delivering requested items so residents don’t have to leave their apartments.

“I marvel at this network of talented employees working in such smooth collaboration and finding ways to make systems better,” says Chaplain Marc Lisle. “It’s incredible to see the processes improve every day.”

Pastoral Associate Judith Medeiros echoes the sentiment.

“Everybody is doing whatever they need to do, whatever they’ve been asked to do, to the best of their ability,” says Medeiros. “We are seeing the absolute best in everybody.”

For Rev. Chad Kidd, pastoral ministries manager at Brooksby Village, the community’s swift and significant response yielded unanticipated benefits.

“We’re working closely with other employees who we didn’t know before all this started,” says Kidd. “They’re good at their jobs, but now we’re seeing their skills translate to other duties. To see how they’re rising to the occasion has been one of the most interesting and fun parts of this new reality.”

Photo: Rev. Chad Kidd, pastoral ministries manager at Brooksby Village, says the staff’s response to the ever-changing situation brought about by COVID-19 demonstrates their flexibility, innovation, and willingness to help where it’s needed.

About Brooksby Village: Brooksby Village is one of 20 continuing care retirement communities developed and managed by Erickson Living® and is situated on a scenic 90-acre campus in Peabody, Massachusetts. The not-for-profit community, located in Essex County, is home to 1,700 residents and is governed by its own board of directors, affiliated with National Senior Campuses, who provide independent financial and operational oversight of the community. Additional information about Brooksby Village can be found at BrooksbyVillage.com.