Be The Change at Cascades Verdae
– Ed Smith –
What is your position at Cascades Verdae?
How long have you been at Cascades Verdae?
I have been at Cascades Verdae for 11 and a half years.
What excites you the most about this position and this company?
I have the privilege to help bring quality of life through daily programming to a very special group of people by providing activities of their preference and geared to their life experience.
What is your favorite thing about working for Senior Living Communities?
I am so happy to be given the extraordinary tools, support, and freedom from Senior Living Communities. Our leaders exemplify our guiding principle of People First Always and it flows throughout the whole organization. We are all here for each other in so many ways. All of the Social Directors from the SLC communities are close and draw from each other.
Describe a time that a Member had a positive impact on your day?
Every day is a day that a Member has a positive impact on me, it is the number one reason why I have been here for so long. I am honored to share their extraordinary life experiences both past and present. Every Member at Cascades Verdae is truly inspiring. There is not enough time to learn it all, but every day I learn something more.
How have you grown professionally and personally since joining the Team?
I began as our first Concierge at Cascades Verdae to be the first point of contact at the community. Later, I became a Certified Activities Director and moved into Skilled Nursing Life Enrichment. I was promoted to Care Services Activity Director and then Social Director. Every day I learn more about the importance of Activities for Quality of Life for physical, emotional, spiritual and social health.
What about your position allows you to pursue things you’re passionate about?
Prior to working at Cascades Verdae, I had a successful career in the Television Industry. My experience as Social Director has allowed me to bring much of that into our programming. I lead a Foreign Film Club, teach classes on Film History and will be able to contribute to our upcoming inhouse television channel in the near future.
When it comes to your programming, what is the motivation behind specific activities, events, programs that you do with your Members?
Every activity I design for the Cascades is based on Member preference. I try to take the life experience and passions that the members possess and use my talents to facilitate those preferences within the framework of our community.
Your community has a monthly social event called a Signature Experience, what is your favorite part of planning, executing, and experience itself?
I love every part of doing a Signature Experience, but my favorite part is the research. Each Signature Experience is themed around a particular location, event, or time period. It is extremely fun to research the event and come up with excellent ways to incorporate them into our party, food and activities. For example, our next Signature Experience was going to be themed around the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893. There were so many things that were introduced like the light bulb, cracker jacks and the Ferris Wheel.
Tell us about your favorite Signature Experience from your time at Cascades Verdae?
Every Signature Experience has been extremely unique and exceptional. I have to say my favorite Signature Experience is my next one!
How does your community come together to work together to provide a vibrant social life for your Members? Dining, Wellness, Social?
Our entire community works together for one purpose as set forth in our Guiding Principles, ‘People First, Always’, ‘We Exist to Serve our Members’, and ‘We Have a Responsibility to be Full’. Our departments are not separate but combined in our efforts to create the highest quality of life for our members. We are all very close and work well together.
A common misconception is that senior living social activities are all bingo all the time. How do you break that stereotype?
Activity schedules should be based on Member preference with extra spice to make them interesting. At the Cascades, we push the envelope and move outside the box. We go White Water Rafting, Indoor SkyDiving, Electronic Bull Riding along with our many clubs like Opera Club, Foreign Film Club, and Travel Club. We also plan Cascades Verdae exclusive multi-day trips throughout the year. Last year, we took 25-30 members to Bristol, VA as well as the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia.
How do you incorporate your Member’s feedback, personal lives, preferences, etc into your daily programming?
Every activity is exclusively based on Member preference. I am very active on the floor and listen to suggestions at Happy Hours, in our Resident Activities Committee, in the Dining Room and at our Activities. I see my role, not to dictate the Activities Calendar, but to facilitate the members’ preferences when and wherever possible.
Fun Fact: What are a few of your favorite hobbies? What is something many people don’t know about you?
As you can guess, I am very interested in films and film history. I also like to travel, spend time with friends and family, listen to music and attend local theater.
How has COVID-19 impacted your programming? Why are activities important during this time?
When the COVID restrictions occurred in March, it totally deleted three months of carefully planned creative programming from our Calendar, since we were not able to gather in groups. It was so important to quickly adapt to the restrictions to keep up Member morale and to deter boredom and depression. We quickly started Virtual Programming and Daily Games for Members. We added outside events like concerts, Trivia, BINGO. We also took these activities to the apartment building floors, which is no small feat since we have 24 floors to repeat each activity. We wore costumes and played cheerful music to keep up the member’s spirits. And, they were so appreciative of that.