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Mutual admiration society

Brooksby's residents and staff create close-knit community

Created date

July 23rd, 2013
Brooksby's residents and staff create close-knit community

When Brooksby Human Resources Coordinator Estefany Pujols leaves her office for a meeting elsewhere on campus, she gives herself an extra five minutes, knowing she s likely to stop and chat. You just walk in the hallways, and residents stop you to say hi, she says. We re basically in the residents home. When five minutes isn t sufficient, Pujols doesn t fret. We re like a family here. Residents are a priority, so I can be late, she adds. Relationships between those who work and live at Brooksby are one reason so many, like Pujols, start as young staff in the community s restaurants and choose to stay on to advance their careers. Pujols is one of more than 20 people currently employed at Brooksby who started years ago as wait staff and now work in departments like information technology, sales and marketing and continuing care. I think the work environment is very safe and secure, and the relationships they develop with the residents make it a unique setting, says John Daly, Brooksby s staff development manager, who oversees the approximately 270 students employed as wait staff year-round in Brooksby s restaurants. Despite the other benefits of competitive pay, scholarship opportunities, and flexible work schedules, Daly says, It s the relationships. Ninety-nine percent stay at the job for the relationships.

Mutual respect and affection

The benefit is mutual for those who live at Brooksby. Bev Johnson was one of the first people to move here 13 years ago. For the past decade, she has been welcoming new dining staff as part of their orientation to what is, for many, their first job. It s one of the things I love most about living here, Bev says of the sessions, which are held as often as weekly. We ve got a wonderful, wonderful staff, she says. I think they re one of the things that keep us young. Bev says the students keep those who live at Brooksby current and help them relate to their grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Bev adds of her neighbors, They re very protective and very interested in [the students]. Student wait staff are eligible for a $5,000 college scholarship if they work 1,000 hours at Brooksby in their senior year of high school. Each year the students put on some form of entertainment for residents. Anything they put on, it s standing room only, Bev says. I think it shows how much respect and affection the residents have for the students. This year sFamily Feud, inspired by the television game show, was no different. There wasn t a seat left in the house. We had such a good time, says Bev, who participated as part of one of the eight resident-student teams. Each team was photographed, and Bev says, I treasure it. It s up on my bulletin board. Daly adds, Students are blown away that the residents care so much about them.

Growth opportunities

Word of mouth from friends or family often leads the students to begin work at Brooksby. That was the case for Brianny Espaillat, one of four student leaders promoted to a service coach, teaching peers at Brooksby. Espaillat joined the community with little experience, and she says, Brooksby Village made me more of a people-person. I definitely grew in the customer service field. And in talking to the residents every day, I made a lot of friends. It s a good time every day. Espaillat expects to put those skills and her Brooksby student scholarship to use as she begins classes at Bentley College this fall. Estefany Pujols began working at Brooksby in 2006 as a member of the wait staff in the community s Overlook Restaurant. She worked her way up, becoming a service coach in dining and then becoming involved in administrative tasks, a gateway to her role as an administrative assistant in dining services. Hailing from the Dominican Republic, Pujols saw a need for her Spanish language skills and led training sessions for new staff in Spanish. In 2011, the coordinator position opened in human resources, and Pujols saw an opportunity. When I first started, I never thought I was going to get to where I am today, she says. You just have to work hard because Brooksby has great growth opportunities. Since she started at Brooksby, Pujols has earned an associate s degree, and she s now pursuing a bachelor s degree from Salem State College with help from Brooksby s employee tuition reimbursement program. I think employees are really appreciated for what they do, she says. Brooksby has all the benefits you can think of in life.