Parkville, Maryland—As a 15-year old freshman attending City College, Terra Townes was searching for a summer job when a friend told her about Oak Crest.
"She recommended it because they worked around your school schedule, ideal for a student," stated Townes. Little did she know, but her first day on the job—July 31, 2001—would be the beginning of a career that is still going strong nearly 17 years later.
Townes currently serves as the Scheduling Coordinator for the Home Support Department at the Erickson Living retirement community located in Parkville. She is often the link between independent living residents & family members and a team of registered nurses (RNs), geriatric nursing assistants (GNAs) and certified nursing assistants (CNAs). These medical professionals provide in-home support for residents who might be recovering from surgery, for example.
The job also marked a major career change for Townes.
Throughout high school, she continued to pick up hours working in various roles in dining. After graduation, she attended Coppin State University and also began a full-time job at Oak Crest as a supervisor in Windows Restaurant.
"This was a big step for me as I learned the lines of business and operations. I placed food & supply orders, created schedules and served as a mentor for our young dining services students," described Townes.
She would later be promoted to Service Manager-in Training, her first salaried position at Oak Crest, and then to Assistant General Manager, where she further delved into budgeting, managing employees and creating excellent dining experiences for residents.
The benefits have been a big advantage, too. "Health insurance and paid time off, in particular, are so important to my two children and me," she said. Townes also received a scholarship from the Oak Crest Student Scholars' Fund, supported mainly through donations from residents. In 21 years, $2.85 million has been awarded to assist 768 students advance their collegiate careers.
Oak Crest employs more than 1,100 full and part-time staff members. Benefits include 401K, comprehensive medical insurance, tuition reimbursement, on-site employee health care, discount programs and much more.
A career change
"The opportunities provided to me by managers within the Dining Services Department were incredible, and I am forever grateful," said Townes. "In 2017, I started to think about the next phase of my life, and it always came back to the medical or social work fields."
She took the initiative, working with management at Oak Crest to secure the Staffing Coordinator position and taking a class in medical billing offered through Johns Hopkins University. Townes is also studying to earn a certification as a professional coder (CPC).
"I am enjoying this challenge," noted Townes. "Establishing new relationships and learning new skills is a rewarding experience. Getting to do it within a mission-oriented company is very special."
"Terra is the type of everyday hero that Oak Crest is recruiting," stated Mark Roussey, Executive Director. "When people join our team, they earn more than a great job in a booming industry – they gain unparalleled access to an array of rich experiences and knowledge that will prove invaluable to their personal and professional growth. What's also rewarding for them is that they get to change lives for the better."
Townes recalls advice that she received on her first day at Oak Crest and has words of wisdom for the next generation of employees.
"I was nervous, and my manager simply said 'don't worry. It's going to be OK,'" she recalled. "I think of those words often because they put me at ease. Now I tell new employees that a job at Oak Crest can give them the chance to be anything they wish to be. A nurse. A lawyer. An engineer. There are so many possibilities in senior living."
For more information about career opportunities at Oak Crest, please visit https://jobs.ericksonliving.com. Visitors can register for email alerts about job postings by field of expertise and location.