Sometimes in life, fate intervenes in the best way. That's exactly what happened to Janine Dionisio.
Last Labor Day weekend, Janine and her husband Tom were on vacation when they happened to drive past Siena Lakes, the Erickson Senior Living community in Naples, Fla. While Tom had recently retired, Janine intended to continue working back home in New York.
"I told Tom that if I could work at a magnificent place like Siena Lakes, I would move to Naples sooner rather than later," she recalls. "His eyes lit up, and he suggested we stop in and get a brochure."
In the Sales Center, the couple met with Sales Director Suzy McAllister, who mentioned that she was interested in hiring an experienced sales representative.
"We had a great conversation, and I was thrilled," says Dionisio. "I saw this beautiful environment and knew that I would love to represent Siena Lakes. When I was offered the position of sales counselor, I knew it was clearly meant to be."
A people person
Dionisio has always loved working with people. While in high school, she took a job as a part-time receptionist at Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury, N.Y., welcoming guests.
"I was considered a 'people person' before I even knew what that phrase meant," she says, with a laugh. "I enjoy talking with people, and I thought there would be a lot for me to learn while making some extra money."
One day, Dionisio was notified that the country club's owner wanted to meet with her. To her surprise, he offered her a full-time position in the banquet sales department.
She continued working at Crest Hollow full-time for 20 years, even while earning a business degree at Adelphi University. Dionisio honed her skills in corporate events and worked her way up the ladder to be named director of sales and marketing.
"We did a lot of events for big personalities, even presidents," Dionisio explains. "For me, it was all very exciting."
Looking for a new challenge
Despite her success, Dionisio decided that she wanted a new challenge, so she planned to take some time off to think about it. Her time off didn't last long, though, as she was soon recruited to be sales director for a senior living community.
"I went into the interview thinking I'd learn a little bit about senior living," says Dionisio. But once she was hired, she realized she really enjoyed working with seniors and remained there for four years.
All this experience led her to exactly where she was meant to be: Siena Lakes.
"Working with seniors has always been high on my priority list," she says. "That's the generation that I love spending time with. I love to listen to them and learn from them!"
While in New York, Dionisio founded an organization helping animals called Pet Peeves: The Voice of Long Island Pets.
"I did a lot of research and learned so much," says Dionisio. As an animal lover, she worked hard to raise nearly $2 million to support rescue groups and shelters in Long Island.
Now that she's moved to Florida, she's looking forward to finding new volunteer opportunities in Naples.
"Giving back is really the best feeling in the world," she says.
A happy household
Dionisio met her husband Tom a blind date. "It was set up by his cousin and my best friend," she says.
These unlikely matchmakers knew what they were doing, as the Dionisios have been married for 28 years. They share their Naples home with what Dionisio calls their "four-legged children:" Archie, a one-eyed rescue cat, and Topo Gigio, a 13-year-old Yorkshire Terrier who is named after the mouse on The Ed Sullivan Show.
When she's not working with prospective residents at Siena Lakes, you can find Dionisio picking up a new book, visiting the theater (especially Broadway shows), and listening to all kinds of music.
She and Tom are both foodies, and they've already found some gems in Naples. "We love a great restaurant experience. It's important to us," Dionisio says. "We're very social, and we really enjoy spending time with friends and family."
To learn more about senior living at Siena Lakes, request your free brochure to get the scoop on amenities, floor plans, and so much more.