The Longwell's son's experience working at Riderwood and for Erickson Living influenced their decision to move there
Silver Spring, MD – A month before Thanksgiving, Jason Longwell's washer and dryer went on the fritz. As any homeowner would do, the Senior Director of Regional Sales for Erickson Living called a repairman and waited—for two months. In the meantime, he used the laundry in his parent's apartment home at Riderwood, an Erickson Living retirement community in Silver Spring, MD, until his was fixed.
Luckily, his parents, Mary and Frank Longwell, never have to worry about their washer and dryer breaking down. They left those worries behind when they gave up homeownership for maintenance-free living at Riderwood. If their washer or dryer does ever break, a repairperson would be there any time of day, any day of the week to fix or replace it immediately.
When Mary and Frank moved to the continuing care retirement community two years ago, Jason had been working for Erickson Living for 11 years. While what attracted him to the company was the positive impact its lifestyle has on the people who live there, he developed a new appreciation for his job through being on the receiving end of the process.
"We always say it gives the kids peace of mind knowing your parents are cared for, and that is the honest to goodness truth," he says. "My siblings and I truly feel they are cared for, and we don't have to worry. While they're independent for now, if anything ever does happen to them, they are set."
From Mary and Frank's perspective, their son's experience working at Riderwood influenced their decision to move. And not because, as Jason jokes, "I told them they didn't have a choice."
They made the decision all on their own. "We knew [Jason] meant it when he talked about the benefits. He was so comprehensively knowledgeable because of his time with Erickson Living. He always had an answer to every question we asked," Frank says.
That's exactly how Jason treats every prospective resident. "Our job is to educate people on what we have to offer. Yes, it is called sales, but it's more education on the process. Seeing them come in tentative and then moving in and thriving, socializing, doing activities, that's what drives me," he says.
Aside from Jason's experiences and knowledge, Frank had another basis on which to choose Riderwood.
While earning his masters in counseling and pastoral ministry from Loyola University of Baltimore, he did an internship at Riderwood's sister community, Oak Crest, in Parkville. Additionally, he was involved at another Erickson Living community, Charlestown, in Catonsville, with their Urban Young Life program.
"I enjoyed my experiences and sat in a lot of group meetings with their residents," Frank says.
As a pastoral counselor, he spent ten years working with homeless addicted veterans in Baltimore Inner City and working with veterans through the VA. He also taught classes at Loyola University in PTSD, based on his personal experience with PTSD after his service in the Vietnam War.
Mary just retired this past June from her career as speech language pathologist in Baltimore County Public Schools. She stays stimulated by taking college courses on campus and interacting with their new neighbors.
"There's a wealth of people who live here who have had a variety of experiences in their life. It's interesting to sit at a table and learn about them. They're very warm and engaging and humble about sharing their life stories," she says.
They both say they originally felt too young to move to Riderwood, but after realizing the benefits of simplifying their lives and taking out a middle move, they know this was a great decision.
"Once we put everything on paper, it just made sense. They travel a lot, and it's easy for them to lock their door and go. This provided the infrastructure to simplify. It just took us a little bit of time to look at other options and make the decision that this actually makes a ton of sense," says Jason.
They're close to Jason's family and an easy train ride to their other son and daughter in Philadelphia.
"Plus we're in a great location," adds Frank. "It's an easy place to fly out of, and the fact that we spent three weeks in Italy and didn't lose a beat is really telling. The grass didn't need mowing, the garbage didn't need taking out."
"I have found several guys to have dinner with and drink some beers and talk. It's a whole group of guys that just think the world of Jason and all the work he's been doing here and the work he did for them. It's just spectacular, really, to hear these guys praising my own son," says Frank. "Seeing your son sparkle is just awesome and gives me a lot of respect for his knowledge."
Photo: Mary Longwell and Frank Longwell with their son Jason Longwell.
About Riderwood: Riderwood, one of 19 continuing care retirement communities managed by Erickson Living®, is situated on a scenic 120-acre campus in Silver Spring, Maryland. The community is located in Montgomery County and is home to more than 2,500 residents. Additional information about Riderwood can be found at RiderwoodCommunity.com.