Be The Change at Homestead Hills
– Meagan Issacs –
I was born and raised in western North Carolina, where the majority of my family still lives. I attended school at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro where I majored in Recreation Therapy. In 2016, I decided to make Winston Salem home and made the permanent move to this beautiful area. This was the perfect place for me to start my career because my family isn’t too far away. Growing up surrounded around the glorious, Blue Ridge Mountains have made me appreciate the outdoors. I’ve been running for 10 years now and recently ran my first half marathon in February 2019 to celebrate my 30th birthday. I’ve also completed a Duathlon, which is a triathlon without the biking. I ran another half marathon in December of 2019 and am traveling to Portland, Maine in June of 2020 to run yet another! I spend a lot of time with my friends and get the privilege of playing the “cool aunt” to all of their kids but then go back home to my quiet house. In my free time, I enjoy baking which I learned how to do from both of my very talented grandmothers.
What is your position at Homestead Hills?
How long have you been at Homestead Hills?
It will be 5 years in August.
What excites you the most about this position and this company?
I never know what my day will be like when I walk into work, for some that might be scary but for me it creates a mini adventure. Homestead Hills believes in trying something new, every day. Within my position I am free to try something new whenever I see fit, at the benefit of our Members. As the Wellness Director, I am fully supported by our Executive Director as well as my Home Office Supervisor!
What is your favorite thing about working for Homestead Hills?
The whole Homestead Hills family, my teammates make everyday a great one. I am proud to be a part of our Leadership Team at Homestead HIlls. Each day we work to provide the quality care that our Members deserve. Our Members bring joy to each day of the week. They care about me and treat me as if I am a member of their family! I often tell people who ask me about my work that I have a lot of grandparents that I get to spend every day with!
Describe a time that a Member had a positive impact on your day?
Our Members have a positive impact on my day, every day. The simple act of attending one of my programs brings a smile to my face. Members have worked their whole lives, getting up early and within their retirement, they continue that routine to attend a wellness program with me. When our Members come to my office to let me know they can return to group exercise program after completing therapy or being on vacation. That is very rewarding as a Wellness Director. Our Members are motivated and excited to continue their fitness journey and I have the privilege of being a part of it.
Have you utilized the Elevate program? If not, do you know someone who has?
I have used the Elevate program, I am licensed by the state of North Carolina and nationally as a Recreational Therapist. I have obtained multiple continuing education credits through the Elevate program to continue my education as well as my professional certifications.
How have you grown professionally and personally since joining the Team?
I started out as the Wellness Associate at Homestead Hills in 2015. My previous job was only in the pool, so the world of land-based exercise was new to me. After being trained by a knowledgeable Wellness Director over the course of my time as Wellness Associate, I had the opportunity to be Wellness Director. The leadership team welcomed me with open arms and was there to support me in the first months of this new adventure. I am thankful for the opportunity to grow in my career and to have the support of my Executive Director in my role.
What about your position allows you to pursue what makes you feel the most passionate in life?
I love to help people; I have always been someone who seeks to provide a helping hand. My parents and grandparents always taught me to love and do for others. I have the opportunity to help people every day at Homestead Hills, and not just in our Wellness Center. I get to help them in the formal dining room, hallway, other activities, or just by noticing they need something when I walk by their room. Every day when I leave work, I feel like I have made some sort of a difference in someone’s life.
When it comes to your programming, what is the motivation behind specific classes that you do with your Members?
I like to listen to what my members want, and for them to be the motivation behind what I do. I always tell them to be honest if they don’t like a certain program or if the programming is getting “stale.” I always think to myself, “Am I bored with what I am doing?” if I can answer that question as yes, I know they are feeling the exact same way. Again, this goes back to the support of Homestead Hills of trying new and out of the box programming.
Your community has a monthly social event called a Signature Experience; how does wellness play a role in these themed days?
I have tried to get very creative in the wellness component of our Signature Experiences. These events are not going to be a normal day in our Wellness Center, they are going to be unique to the theme for the month. We have done several fun things during our events, one event that stands out in my mind was our Renaissance Fair Signature Experience, we threw tomatoes at a board to get them to explode! Many of our Members had so much fun, they didn’t even realize they were utilizing their muscles in an exercise. One of our most recent Signature Experiences included The Godfather! Our Members had a blast playing laser tag through the community, it is a great way to try something new every day. Many of our Members have never gone to play laser tag before, providing them an opportunity to tick things off of their bucket list is very rewarding.
The wellness programming as won three Argentum Best of the Best Awards over the last few years. What was that feeling like and how does it motivate you moving forward?
That was truly an amazing feeling to know that all of the hard work of our entire organization paid off! We were able to be recognized on a high level which only supported the positive feedback we get when it comes to our programming. It motivates me to continue to provide the best programming possible for the Members at Homestead Hills. We want them to not just be well but live The Weller Life.
Tell us about WAVES, C.L.I.M.B, or Purpose-Based Wellness. How does it benefit the Members, what does the program looks like, and how did it come to be?
WAVES has been a very successful program here at Homestead Hills. I open up the program to both our Assisted Living and Memory Care Members. I recently had a Member and her sister in the pool, and this was the first time she was going to be getting into the water, the “unknown” was scary for her. She entered the pool and began to swim even without hesitation. She went as far as to swim to the other wise of our pool, as she put her foot down and looked at me and said, “I remember how to swim!” It took everything I had not to cry at that moment, she looked so proud of herself and I could see how relieved that she was. The WAVES program has physical, mental, and emotional benefits for all of our Members.
What makes Homestead Hills’ Wellness Programming stand out compared to others?
I work with my Members to encourage them to try things that might not seem like exercise to them. Some of our Members have the mindset that exercise is standing or sitting with weights. My ultimate goal is to offer something for everyone. We don’t all like to exercise the same way which makes each of us unique. My attendance has grown tremendously over the last year and I have seen many new faces. I try to contact new Members as soon as they move in to let them know that I am here to help them as independently as possible and live The Weller Life at Homestead Hills.
Talk about the impact your wellness program has had on the Members at your community, big wins, maintaining independence, and more.
Our Wellness Program has a huge impact on the lives of our Members in a variety of ways. The program has created many new friendships between neighbors, they always make sure to check-in on each other if they’re not in attendance. Members have created a family and they all care for one another’s well-being. The popularity of our classes sparks conversation between our Members and once someone hears about a new class, they have to attend! This is one way that we get new faces into our classes, if they hear the impact a class has on one of their neighbors, it encourages them to attend.
What is your favorite thing to do to maintain your fitness level?
My favorite thing to do is run, it’s a good outlet for me to release endorphins and stay motivated at my job. I spend a few days a week cross training to keep things unique in my own life. The YMCA has an awesome Hip Hop Cycle Class that is like a party on a bike! Our WAVES class brings me back when I used to teach swim lessons. I’ve always been a big believer in practicing what you preach!