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He’s making a difference at Cedar Crest

Kevin Morrow has made service to others a lifetime goal

Created date

February 25th, 2014
Kevin Morrow has made service to others a lifetime goal
Kevin Morrow has made service to others a lifetime

 For Kevin Morrow, giving is receiving.

The 45-year restaurant veteran practically lives and breathes service. His warmth and friendliness seep through the telephone. It’s like Santa Claus is on the other end of the line. 

Actually, he is.

Morrow has played Santa Claus for 34 years, spreading joy and cheer to everyone he meets, both young and old. But the fuzzy red hat is just one of many Morrow wears throughout the year.

Above and beyond

Since owning three restaurants, Morrow has worked at Crest since January 5, 2005, as restaurant service manager for its new Café at Village Square (formerly Mountainside Café). 

For nine years, he’s not only managed the café and trained its student employees, he’s gone out of his way to make life at the Erickson Living community in Pompton Plains, N.J., extraordinary for those who call it home.

He’s taken residents on fishing trips on nearby High Crest Lake. He takes them out to lunch or to meet with their children. He even rescued a resident who had gotten in a terrible car accident in New York State and brought her home. 

“Giving is more of a gift for me because that is the way my mother taught me to be,” Morrow says. “The reward is ten times what you give.

 “I’m just able to be friendly with a lot of people,” he adds. “Residents feel very comfortable around me.”

Instilling service in young people

Morrow’s philosophy when training student employees in the café: “Make a difference in at least one resident’s life a night,” he says. “That’s my goal. Do that, and you’ll go from one [person] a night to ten [people] in a week. The reward makes a difference in your night, your week, your year,” he says. “It’s incredible.”

In his own family of four children and six grandchildren—with one son in the Marines and one daughter teaching special education—Morrow taught the value of service by example.

Aside from playing Santa, he donates about 2,200 volunteer hours a year in the ambulance corps as an emergency medical technician. And as a member of the Sons of the American Legion, he caters events, donates funds, and plays Santa there too.

But Cedar Crest remains at the heart of all he does. “I love working here because I feel like when I leave home I’m coming home,” he says.

Manager of the year

It’s no wonder, then, that in 2011, he received the Manager of the Year Award from Cedar Crest. “It had a lot to do with the kids. I teach them a lot. I’m tough on them, but I teach them what it’s like in the real world,” he says. 

“Kevin is a wonderful asset to our team,” says Executive Director Cathy Guttman. “He is a role model of our Erickson values. He very much values the residents’ dining experience and tries to make every interaction with our residents meaningful.”

Joys of getting older

When he’s not taking residents fishing, playing Santa Claus, training employees, or managing the café, Morrow spends time with his family, who all live nearby except for his one son in the Marines. 

“I watch my grandchildren, take them to the park. Every Wednesday, we have family night,” Morrow says. “These are the joys of getting older—getting the rewards back.”

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