Matthews, North Carolina--Windsor Run, an Erickson Living developed and managed community, employs numerous local high school and college students, most as members of the dining services team.
With physical distancing protocols in place as a result of COVID-19, these students have seamlessly transitioned into new roles, each with a profound dedication to the community members they serve.
"These students fill a crucial role in serving our residents during this challenging time," says Executive Director George Comfort. "Their willingness to show up and make sure residents are taken care of is really inspirational."
Service with a smile
For Windsor Run's student employees, the previous shelter-in-place directives required taking on new roles from those for which they were hired.
"My current efforts are very different from my pre-COVID-19 tasks," says Marlow Chapman, a senior at Providence High School. "During this time, we have as little contact as possible with the residents for their own safety, but we still interact with them by delivering food to their apartment homes contact-free. Windsor Run has come together as a community by always staying positive. We social distance but are still able to laugh and smile in light of things. It is a great work environment to be a part of."
Alice Ashburn, who also attends Providence High School, spent her pre-COVID-19 workdays training wait staff, bussing tables, and serving meals in the restaurants. "I now bring the food to the apartment homes," she says. "Windsor Run has come together to support the residents."
In addition to delivering meals, student employees provide help with essential tasks, including the cleaning and sanitizing of public spaces. "We all wear gloves and masks in our efforts to be extra careful," says Hope Niccolai, a student at Piedmont High School.
"We all appreciate how our student employees are like strong rubber bands, able to stretch in all directions and hold things together for our community," says Director of Resident Life Maria Reyes.
Each Windsor Run student employee manages their time working at the community and completing their schoolwork.
"I plan all my days in advance, on work days and off days," says Ronan Cassano, who recently graduated from Parkwood High School. "I wake up early to make sure I balance my work life and school life together. I finish testing at home in advance, which allows me to come to work entirely focused."
Because balancing work and school can be tricky, Windsor Run management works carefully with the students, enabling them to put their schoolwork, and their future dreams of success, first. "I've learned how to use my time wisely," says Jose Lopez, a student at Carmel Christian School. "I make sure to do assignments when they are posted so I do not have to worry about my school obligations when I am at work."
In addition, many of the students work in the afternoon and evening, allowing them time in the morning to concentrate on their studies.
"My shift starts at 3:00 p.m., which allows me to get schoolwork done before work," says Elise (Ellie) Wrona, a student at Cuthbertson High School. "Or I do my schoolwork on my days off. I enjoy working at this time because I feel like I am doing something meaningful. As student employees, we've come together to keep residents safe and happy."
With the hope of returning to school in the fall, Windsor Run's student employees remain committed to providing for community members and are thankful for the life lessons they are learning.
"The impact of working during the pandemic has shown me a new perspective on how crucial it is to keep everything clean and the importance of sanitation while running a restaurant," says Olivia Widener, a student at Central Academy of Technology and Arts. "My top priority is keeping the residents and my fellow workers safe."
And even though the safety efforts in place have decreased the amount of time the students spend with residents, many find that living through and thriving within the current environment creates strong bonds.
"During this time, Windsor Run has come together as a community by always staying positive," says Chapman. "Although we remain physically distanced, we are able to laugh and smile. This is a great work environment to be a part of."
About Windsor Run: Windsor Run, situated on a scenic 60-acre campus in Matthews, North Carolina, is one of 20 continuing care retirement communities developed and managed by Erickson Living®. The community is home to more than 450 residents who are supported by a team of more than 110 employees. Additional information about Windsor Run can be found at WindsorRunCommunity.com.