Cedar Crest's TV Studio Keeps Residents Connected and Engaged

Residents are tuning into Cedar Crest’s TV channel for campus news, fitness classes, and more!

Cedar Crest TV has always been popular with residents at the Erickson Living senior living community in Pequannock, New Jersey, for its variety of informative and entertaining programs. During this time of physical distancing, the in-house TV studio has become an even more vital resource for residents and staff to stay connected, engaged, and informed.

 “We are fortunate that Cedar Crest has three in-house channels to provide an assortment of programs for our residents to enjoy safely at home. We strive to educate and entertain viewers through interactive game shows, religious services, wellness and fitness programs, movies, art classes, and informational talks from the administration,” says Community TV Lead Coordinator Mike Dygos, who runs the studio with Community TV Coordinator Matt Colvin.

Staff members from all departments are contributing content. Fitness staff members teach exercise classes virtually. The Dining Department hosts programs including a live cooking show with Executive Chef Harris Gondelman. Members of the Resident Life are instructing simple drawing, origami classes, and more. Sales Manager Brian Cassidy has stepped in to host news shows. Senior Manager of Resident Services Erica Zayat and Social Worker Jennifer Malec launched a new show devoted to wellness with virtual interviews with residents.

One channel is dedicated to programs by Pastoral Ministries, which airs virtual services from the on-campus Chapel.  And, the movie channel broadcasts a variety of films from opera, documentary, foreign films, classic, to contemporary.

Interactive and entertaining quiz shows include Name that Tune with residents singing Karaoke virtually, virtual Bingo hosted by Community Resources Manager Amy Wagener, and the “Door-to-Door Quiz Show,” hosted by Zayat, donning a bunny suit and other whimsical costumes.

Staff and Residents Working Together

Residents are getting into the act by leading zoom discussion groups, putting together comedy programs, and continuing to host their regular shows virtually. Marilyn Kaplan led a virtual sing-along on her guitar for neighbors and staff from her balcony.

Since Memorial Day has always been a significant holiday on campus, staff and residents decided to recognize the day in a similar fashion except virtually. The program included resident and staff speakers and video clips from past ceremonies of the color guard and the Cedar Crest Chorale.

“It’s been a true team effort from residents and staff to keep our station filled with dynamic programs,” says Zayat.

Keeping the Community Informed

In addition to providing ways for community members to stay active and engaged within their apartment homes, Cedar Crest has been keeping the community up to date with informative shows. The Cedar Crest Today show airs two times a week. Also, Executive Director Todd DeLaney and Associate Executive Director Kristen Compton host a live update show three times a week during which residents can ask questions via email or by phone and receive answers on-air.

Resident Margaret Mack says, “Kristen and Todd always offer not only information but also reassurance that we are all in this together.”

“During this Covid-19 situation, accurate, timely information is essential,” says DeLaney. “The safety and well-being of our residents is our top priority, and we’re using every communication resource to inform them of what we’re doing.”

Jeff Watson, Erickson Living’s Director of Operations, gives high praise to the broadcast professionals and virtual resident volunteers at Cedar Crest. “They deserve great credit for the creative, high-quality programming they’ve produced throughout this unprecedented situation. Their innovation and hard work have resulted in a heightened level of communication that has kept those on campus connected, engaged, and healthy.”

Mack agrees, “Mike Dygos and Matt Colvin of the Cedar Crest TV team have certainly gone above and beyond and have enhanced all the programming we have been enjoying! Seeing the entire staff of Cedar Crest step up and try to relate to us and what we are experiencing during these overwhelming times has been an experience I will never forget.”

About Cedar Crest: Cedar Crest, one of 20 continuing care retirement communities developed and managed by Erickson Living®, is situated on a scenic 130-acre campus in Pompton Plains, New Jersey. The not-for-profit community of more than 1,800 residents and 1,000 employees 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 Cedar Crest can be found at CedarCrestCommunity.com.

Photo: Cedar Crest Fitness Specialist Colleen Fox teaches virtual fitness class on Cedar Crest TV.