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Greenspring’s student employees take on new roles with enthusiasm

July 27, 2020

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Youthful exuberance in a time of need

Springfield, Va. -- July 27, 2020 -- Greenspring, an Erickson Living-managed community in Springfield, Va., employs many high school and college students, most as members of the dining services team in the community's five restaurants. As a result of the physical distancing protocols put into place in response to COVID-19, these students have seamlessly transitioned into new roles, each with a profound dedication to the community members they serve.

"Choosing to come to work at this time is inspiring," says Director of Dining Services Jason Healey. "Our student employees have an energy and light to serve others that is commendable. They are always happy to help out the team to better take care of our residents. You can see why so many of our student employees go on to be great leaders and supporters in their communities."

Service with a smile

For Greenspring's student employees, the shelter-in-place directives have required them to take on new roles from those for which they were hired.

Sadaf Azizi, a student at Northern Virginia Community College, worked part-time as a hostess in one of Greenspring's restaurants and now works full-time on the concierge team delivering mail, answering resident phone calls, making personal deliveries, and delivering fresh produce and salad boxes.

"Working five days a week is a little more tiring than working three days, but my coworkers make it fun," she says. "I feel safe and comfortable working because we are taking the necessary precautions: staying six feet apart, wearing gloves and masks, sanitizing, and washing hands. I have been working at Greenspring for almost five years, and my job has never failed to keep me happy. I enjoy working and collaborating with diverse teams and seeing the residents happy!"

"Our current tasks are very different from our pre-COVID-19 tasks inside the Greenspring restaurants," says Houssam Elkhasouani, a 2020 graduate of Hayfield Secondary School. "Before COVID-19, we would take a resident's order and personally tend to whatever they needed as they enjoyed their meal. Now, we package meals in our dining room and deliver them to the residents."

Although they miss more direct contact with the students, Greenspring community members are grateful for the students' hard work and dedication.

"Our servers have gone above and beyond as far as helping residents adapt," says community member Betty Griffin. "They are always cheerful; we hear them in the halls when they deliver food and mail. They are wonderful. I am so glad we have such a devoted group of young people. I love them all!"

"My husband John and I have been inspired by the hard work being done by all the students," says fellow Greenspring neighbor Marie Lee. "They have faithfully delivered meals to each of us for the last several months. While we see that delivery as part of their work, what we don't see is the way the food bags are prepared for us individually by these same young hands."

Juggling act

Each Greenspring student employee manages their time working at the community and completing their schoolwork. "Before the summer break, my managers were very flexible and understanding when it came to school," says Nagiana Azizi, a recent graduate of Forest Park High School and new student at Northern Virginia Community College. "When I was required to attend a Zoom class, everyone was very helpful. Greenspring hours are always flexible with students."

Sadaf agrees. "All my managers have been kind enough to make our school and job schedules work out," she says. "They always put school first. Honestly, it is also all about time management, and luckily, working at Greenspring has allowed me to develop that skill."

The dedication and determination of all of Greenspring's student employees goes a long way in providing community members with a bright light in the midst of difficult times.

"Greenspring has come together so well during this pandemic," says Houssam. "Everywhere I go, I see thank you signs on the residents' doors, and the residents always thank us for our efforts every time they see us. I just want to thank all of the residents for all of the kind words and all of the love we've been receiving. It really means a lot and drives us even more to come to work."

"During these strange times, I make sure to go above and beyond when it comes to work, giving 110% to helping the residents," says Samuel Yorke, a student at Northern Virginia Community College. "Now that the world has slowed down, things feel smaller, tighter, more connected. It now feels like every hour I spend helping my coworkers and residents is making the world get back to normal, one meal at a time."

About Greenspring: Greenspring, one of 20 continuing care retirement communities developed and managed by Erickson Living®, is situated on a scenic 58-acre campus in Springfield, Virginia. The not-for-profit community of more than 2,000 residents and 1,000 employees is governed by its own board of directors, affiliated with National Senior Campuses, who provide independent financial and operational oversight of the community. Additional information can be found at

Photo credit: David Taylor

Photo caption: Greenspring student employees pause for a smile before they personally deliver community member meals during the COVID-19 shelter-at-home directive.

Written by Kelly A. Shue