Among the many busy neighbors at Tallgrass Creek, an Erickson Senior Living community in Overland Park, Kans., are nine residents who serve as members of the resident advisory council (RAC). Council members are elected by their peers and act as a liaison between Tallgrass Creek residents and the community’s executive management team. The group meets each month with members of the management team to discuss suggestions from residents along with community updates and news. Resident Jim Ogden served on the council for the past two years and was elected chairman earlier this year. He finds working with both residents and Tallgrass Creek’s management team to be insightful and rewarding.
Having a voice
“This is such a well-managed community that our job is an easy one,” says Jim, who retired as the Deputy Regional Administrator for the General Services Administration’s Heartland Region. “It’s important to have a voice no matter where you live and that’s where we come in.”
Community-wide elections are held every year with the chairman elected to a one-year term and council members serving three-year terms. The group works through nine standing committees that cover different aspects of living at Tallgrass Creek. Committees include finance, communications, dining services, buildings, grounds and transportation, health and wellness, philanthropy, resident life, and diversity and inclusion. Jim notes that each of the nine council members is assigned to a committee so he or she can report suggestions and comments back to the RAC. Committees normally include a chairperson and six members who usually have an interest or background in their particular area.
“For instance, some of our finance committee members are CPAs or business owners,” says Jim. “There are many retired professionals at Tallgrass who bring meaningful perspectives to the areas they represent.”
Spreading the word
Every year, the RAC hosts a community-wide town hall so residents can learn more about the committees. Residents who serve as committee chairs are available with information about their particular area and function.
“The committees are where the real work happens,” says Jim. “We strive to have options for everyone so any resident who wants to serve can find a way to participate.”
Resident Gene Meyer volunteered to serve on the communications committee, formed to promote effective communication between Tallgrass Creek residents and the management team. Gene’s background is well suited to the job. He spent 50 years as a journalist reporting for both The Wall Street Journal and The Kansas City Star. He also covered the Vietnam War as an Army correspondent in 1968.
“As the community grows, it’s important to ensure that Tallgrass residents have more opportunities to receive information,” says Gene. “I’m hopeful my past experience helps to contribute in some way.”
Dedicated to dining
One of the more visible committees is dining services. With four beautiful dining venues at Tallgrass Creek that offer everything from casual dining to elegant meals to grab-and-go snacks, the committee has plenty to talk about at their monthly meetings.
“Everyone has opinions about food,” says resident and committee chair Karen Cox, with a smile.
Monthly committee meetings are always attended by a member of the dining staff who takes note of residents’ suggestions and offers updates from Tallgrass Creek’s busy kitchens.
“We’re a conduit between the dining staff and residents,” says Karen. “It’s important that information and suggestions go both ways.”
Dining Services Director Nick Tondeur, who oversees the community’s restaurant-grade kitchen, culinary choices, personnel, and varied dining venues, says the committee provides a valuable service.
“We serve hundreds of residents every day, so our plate is very full,” says Tondeur. “We want everyone to experience great food and service in an appealing environment, and the information that comes from the committee helps us achieve that.”
Tallgrass Creek Executive Director Jean Landreville agrees, adding that the resident advisory council provides great benefit to the entire community.
“The RAC provides the management team with a fundamental perspective that can only come from actually living here,” says Landreville. “That level of knowledge and open communication helps everything run more smoothly.”
To learn more about retirement living as part of an active, engaged community, request more information today.