We recently had the opportunity to speak with Grace Vazquez, the Director of Career Outreach at Country Meadows, about how her role contributes to the Country Meadows experience. Grace is an employee that truly embodies the spirit of our Home Sweet Home Promise. Her passion for the community, residents, and career opportunities makes her unique role within the organization all the more important.
Grace Vazquez discusses below how, even as retirement communities face unprecedented circumstances with COVID-19, Country Meadows remains an excellent choice for senior independent living and a safe and rewarding place to work.
Tell us about your position with Country Meadows.
My position at Country Meadows didn’t always exist. What I do is unique and something other retirement communities don’t have. My job is essentially to present Country Meadows as the employer of choice. I seek out and build connections with possible recruitment sources. Our employment specialists and I then continue nurturing those relationships so we can utilize them as a resource for quality candidates. We really value these relationships, and we believe it’s important for them to be authentic, respectful, and mutual. Yes, we’re building recruitment resources, but we’re looking for the right type of candidate, so if our relationships with our resources are authentic, we’ll be top of mind when the right person for the job comes along.
I, along with our employment team members, attend job fairs, give presentations and visit schools to share the Country Meadows story and detail our culture. And it’s been very successful for us. Other Pennsylvania retirement communities and businesses are seeing the need for this position after we’ve forged the path.
In essence, I’m like a sales director for employment at Country Meadows. But I don’t have to work hard to “sell” Country Meadows to our recruitment resources once they get to know us because the culture here is so real and positive, so it’s very easy for everyone to see why we make a great choice for employment.
Why did you choose to pursue a role within this industry?
I had started working part-time with Country Meadows in June of 2006 and moved on to a few different roles. Eventually, I was offered the chance to start working with the CM Home Care business as Director of Client Services and held that position for 7 years before we created the position I’m in now. I’ve been Director of Career Outreach for the last 5 years now.
Growing up in New York, I never thought I’d be working for any Pennsylvania retirement communities, but when the opportunity to work at Country Meadows came up, it just felt right. I’ve always felt a need to serve ever since I was young. It might be my Italian roots, but I learned early on that we should respect our elderly family members. I still feel this way. Everyone brings value to our lives and everyone wants to feel valued. This position was the perfect fit for my natural abilities.
What about your role are you most passionate about?
Country Meadows is a family. And I love that aspect of my job the most. I’m really passionate about making relationships. Some of our residents are with us for many years. You are naturally going to create a bond when you’ve known someone for that long. Yes, we are a retirement community with gardening, recreational activities, and entertainment, but we’re also a community of family. It’s my mission in life to keep this culture going because not everyone is cut out for this work. So, I find it to be a great honor to keep growing these relationships and caring for others. I’m very passionate about finding like-minded individuals to help us serve our communities and join our family. It’s my goal for us to remain one of the best retirement communities in the state.
What makes Country Meadows a great place for a career?
Aside from the family atmosphere, there are incredible growth opportunities for every level of employment here. Country Meadows offers many grants, programs, and bonus opportunities that enable our employees to go back to school to advance in their career paths. The amount of financial assistance our employees have the opportunity to be awarded is unheard of and truly admirable. We really want all of our employees to be successful and we’re willing to support that because we believe in our people. Anyone from an entry-level worker all the way to our executives has the chance to grow and feel successful here.
What do you look for in an ideal Country Meadows candidate?
We try to hire the individual who is thinking of the long-term, like we are, who may not necessarily have all the skill sets right off the bat but is willing to learn and willing to put in the effort. It takes a special type of person to work in a retirement community and to serve others. So, we look for a candidate that has heart and a strong work ethic. You have to have empathy. We treat everyone equally, from our memory support residents to our active senior living residents.
Currently, the entire world is facing the fight with COVID-19. What has Country Meadows done to protect their staff members? And how are you coming together at this time to lift each other up, both as a team and for the residents?
What we’re dealing with is difficult, yes, but our management has been excellent. Here, it really starts from the top and echoes all the way down in terms of direction. Everyone is doing the best they can to communicate all the changes we’re making for our safety and that of our residents. There is no reason to hide anything – we all want everyone to be safe. The most challenging part of this is that things are changing so rapidly. Because of this, though, we get updates every day, which makes it easier. There’s a website that all coworkers can go on and read any communication going to the families and residents.
Something amazing that I need to point out is that Country Meadows has a program called the Coworker Foundation. We’ve always had it, but they’ve actually expanded it right now to help coworkers in need. It was put into place for any coworker who has an emergency financial need. Country Meadows really takes care of its people. And they don’t have to go above and beyond like this, but they want to – and that’s a big deal.
In terms of hiring, even in the current situation, we are hiring. All of our hiring is being done remotely. Our hired employees will only come in when it’s time to start the paperwork. It does bring hiring challenges since we always want to hire people thinking of the long-term. But there are a lot of people looking for work right now and we want them to feel welcome in our industry.
In your own words, what is the Country Meadows mission?
To serve our seniors with dignity and respect. To serve them as if we were blood related. To serve them as if they were our own. To me, that’s the mission. When we’ve made our residents lives great every day, when we give them purpose, we have done our job. Because this life is really hard sometimes, being elderly can be hard, and we have to treat them well and make them see that their lives matter as much as ours do.
To learn about the opportunities available at Country Meadows, we encourage you to contact us today. As one of the top Pennsylvania retirement communities, we are equipped to assist any needs from independent living to personal care or assisted living. Our staff is happy to answer any questions you may have about our campus and facilities. For more information on all that we offer, please visit our website.