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For the community, by the community

Resident Advisory Council enhances campus life

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December 24th, 2013
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href=""> Crest, an Erickson Living community in Pompton Plains, N.J., values its residents, their wisdom, and their feedback. The community’s Resident Advisory Council (RAC) acts as a liaison between residents and management, enhancing communication all around.

This demonstrated leadership among peers is a breath of fresh air to many who live at or are considering a move to Cedar Crest. 

Commitment to serve

“I’ve always felt that if you want to change anything, don’t sit back and let other people do it for you,” says current RAC President Phyllis O’Reilly. 

As a teacher, Phyllis served as an officer on the Kinnelon Education Association several times throughout her career. Now, at Cedar Crest, she’s able to influence the changes that go on in the community where she lives. 

“The definite benefit is communication between residents and our administration,” says Phyllis, who is serving her second year as RAC president. Formerly, she led the resident life committee. “Our primary purpose is to improve the comfort and satisfaction of all residents.”

The RAC collaborates with fellow community members and their more than 180 groups. Additionally, they provide peer support to their fellow neighbors. 

Some examples of their accomplishments include risers for the performing arts groups, equipment for the Belmont Library, startup funds for a number of organizations, and new counters in the Village Square craft room, to name a few. 

“In one article there isn’t enough space to list all of the positive changes brought about through the RAC’s efforts as well as our collaboration with administration,” Phyllis writes in an article for Mountain Matters, Cedar Crest’s monthly newsletter. 

Welcoming new leaders

The nine-member council includes an executive team of president, vice president, treasurer, and a non-voting secretary. The remaining members lead committees such as dining services, resident life, and health services. 

Every September, the community elects new RAC members. The 2014 RAC welcomes Leo Thomas and Marie O’Mara, and thanks those whose terms ended in September: David Shinn and Jerry Winnick.

“The RAC plays an important role in making Cedar Crest an enjoyable, affordable, healthy place to live,” says Executive Director Cathie Guttman. “It provides residents with a friendly ear to share concerns or issues, rather than having to report to management. People tend to be more honest with their peers, which means we can make the most impact when we address those concerns—whether big or small.”

Cedar Crest takes resident feedback so seriously that they conduct a resident satisfaction survey every December. Observing everything from dining to activities to landscaping to medical care, the survey provides quantifiable results and actionable insights.

“We get excited for the resident satisfaction survey each year because we know that we’ll not only get positive feedback, we’ll also discover areas for improvement, which means we’re continually making Cedar Crest a great—and a better—place to live,” says Guttman.

Look for survey results in the February issue of the Tribune.


Purposeful leadership

Aside from bettering the community where they live, Cedar Crest Resident Advisory Council (RAC) members engage in active socialization and leadership, bettering their own lives while they’re bettering their neighbors’. 

What’s more, studies show that the experience and wisdom older adults have built up over the years make them more capable leaders, better able to create a greater sense of community overall. 

Case in point, “Cedar Crest is an excellent place to live,” Phyllis says. “Nobody needs to be idle; nobody needs to be lonely.” The community organizations supported by RAC offer opportunities for education, socialization, engagement, and enjoyment.

Here’s a small sampling of the more than 180 clubs and activities at Cedar Crest—an activity for every interest: 

  • Book Lovers’ Club
  • Cedar Crest Bowlers
  • Chess Club
  • Crafting Group
  • Oil Painting Workshop
  • Poker and Polish Poker
  • Wine Tasting Group
  • Stained Glass Workshop