Motivated by the People She Serves

June 9, 2020

At Fox Run, a continuing care retirement community developed and managed by Erickson Living, one of the staff members most involved in shaping daily life is the community resources manager, who is responsible for supporting resident-run clubs, publishing the activities calendar, and planning outings and events. Katherine Rivera was hired to fill that role in late February—just weeks before Michigan (and most of the rest of the world) went under stay-at-home orders. The timing created some unique challenges for Rivera, but she hasn't let the circumstances stop her from keeping community members informed and entertained.

Fox Run has an on-site TV studio that broadcasts to every apartment home, and that provided a convenient hub for information and connection while residents were sheltering in place. Exercise classes; educational programs; and cultural events like ballets, operas, and Broadway shows were all being aired on the station. Worship services and bible study classes were also broadcast on TV while Fox Run neighbors couldn't gather in person.

"Every Friday I host a 'call-out' talk show called Fox Run Talks Back where I call three residents and we discuss positive, uplifting topics," Rivera says. "I really enjoy this because it gives me a chance to get know some residents a little while they are staying home."

Movies and live informational TV programs were also being shown each day on Fox Run's TV station. And even though community members couldn't get together in the clubhouse for their regular Friday happy hours, the staff found a creative way to keep the party going. The community services department aired recorded performances by residents' favorite entertainers, and dining services delivered a cocktail and snacks to residents' apartments for a complete happy hour experience at home.

"Overall, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and appreciative of the work we are doing—not just for the community resources team but for all the Fox Run staff," Rivera says. "Residents' signs, phone calls, and emails are so encouraging and motivate us to keep at it."

Each week, Rivera and her team dropped off hard copies of the Fox Run Connection Entertainment Guide to residents' front doors. The packets are filled with the in-house TV guide, activity pages, journal topics, trivia, and interesting websites to explore.

"Fox Run also has a lovely library. Twice a week, I deliver library books and movies to residents' apartments," Rivera says. "They can also have playing cards and jigsaw puzzles delivered."

Creative background
Rivera began her career in the fashion industry as a clothing and accessory buyer in New York City. She also managed a woman's clothing store in New Jersey. She left the workforce for several years to raise her family, and when she returned to work, she started a small creative arts business.

"I painted murals, taught early education creative arts classes for children ages two to six, and hosted creative arts workshops for private parties and communities," Rivera says. "Eventually, I took a job in a senior living facility in the life enrichment department and fell in love with the senior population."

Rivera went on to run the South Lyon Center for Active Adults, a nonprofit community center for people over age 50. In that position, Rivera says she learned a lot about running a nonprofit business and working with a large community of over 3,500 members.

"I was not looking for a new job when I heard about the position from a Fox Run employee I was on a committee with previously," she says. "I came in to interview for the position, and I was very impressed with Fox Run as a community. I thought it would be a great place to work and grow professionally."

Starting a new job during a global pandemic has not been without its challenges. But Rivera and all of her colleagues at Fox Run stayed flexible to do whatever needed to be done under the unprecedented circumstances. 

"It is a challenge to learn a new facility and position under any circumstances. The pandemic made it more difficult because no one was in their usual roles or places," Rivera says. "Currently, my main focus is keeping the residents informed, entertained, and connected during the crisis while they stay home and stay safe. And, of course, I am being part of the Fox Run team—I am definitely getting my steps in helping with deliveries and concierge services."

Family life
Rivera lives in Milford, Mich. with her husband and daughter, who is a high school senior heading to Michigan State in the fall, and her pit bull named Prince.

"I enjoy working in my large vegetable garden and going antiquing," Rivera says. "I recently finished my yoga leadership training. As a registered yoga teacher, I lead two yoga classes a week [before the stay-at-home directive] and practice yoga and meditation daily."

During the coronavirus pandemic, Rivera was appearing frequently on Fox Run's TV station. As a result, she's shared a lot about herself and her family, something she says is a bit unusual for her.

"I think residents and staff would be surprised to know I am a very private person," she says. "I have never even logged onto Facebook, nor do I participate on any other social media platforms."

Rivera says everyone at Fox Run has been supportive and welcoming during these first unusual weeks of working at the community. But she is looking forward to a post-pandemic world where she will be able to spend more time with residents in person.

"I am most looking forward to getting to know the residents a lot better—and have some fun together," Rivera says. "I love to throw a good party!"

Consider Fox Run if you're interested in living in an active senior independent living community. Beautiful walking paths, gardens, resort-style amenities, an on-site medical center staffed by full-time medical professionals, and new friends await. Request more information today.