Staff Stories - July 28, 2022

Confessions of a Goodwin Living Intern

My Summer of Surprises | Confessions of a Goodwin Living Intern

by Salimata Sanfo, Goodwin Living Intern

In May of 2022, I got a message through LinkedIn. The message was from Zoe Marcuse, the People Engagement Manager at Goodwin Living. She was reaching out to inform me about an open internship position with the Goodwin Living Foundation team. While I’ll admit that I was curious to learn more, I still don’t think that I could describe the feeling I had as ‘interest’. But again, why would I be?

I am a 22-year-old college student who can’t even imagine being 30 years old. I had never given much thought to the idea of senior living and healthcare. My mother is from Kenya and my father from Burkina Faso, and they always made it clear they were going to retire in their own home in Kenya. In fact, most African cultures view families putting their seniors in senior communities as a disgrace. Senior living communities often invoked thoughts of gray buildings with bright fluorescent lighting, linoleum floors and beeping machines.

With all this in my mind, I had reservations.

How I Was Convinced to Intern at Goodwin Living

I eventually responded to Zoe’s LinkedIn message, and my first phone discussion with Zoe began to change my view and create major interest.

I learned about the Goodwin Living Foundation, the fundraising arm of the Goodwin Living organization. The Foundation provides for the needs of both residents and team members at Goodwin Living through its different funds and offerings. For example, the Foundation helps ensure that residents who come to Goodwin House Life Plan Communities can stay there should they outlive their financial resources.

Learning about this made me really interested in working with Goodwin Living, as equity and quality of life are two things I’ve spent time advocating for as a nonprofit consultant. I really wanted to learn more about Goodwin Living and the Foundation, and I was ready to be surprised.

Day One of My Internship

Fast forward to a month later, I found myself sitting in a conference room at Goodwin House Alexandria (GHA), excited for my first day. I sensed the nervous excitement of all the interns as everyone walked in, notepads out, pens ready and feet tapping with anticipation.

Zoe introduced herself and gave us a breakdown of the Goodwin Living organization. She told us about the history of Goodwin Living, the Life Plan Communities Goodwin House Alexandria (GHA) and Goodwin House Bailey’s Crossroads (GHBC), home and community-based services and Goodwin Living At Home.

After we learned our daily responsibilities, and we got a tour of GHA. It was not what I expected. The soft carpet, warm lighting and bright decor was not what I first imagined at all. There were plants, warm couches and paintings everywhere. Residents laughed with their friends and families, doing activities all throughout campus.

Then, we met multiple Goodwin Living team members, all from different parts of the organization. I was surprised by the varying career backgrounds each of them brought to the organization. Some team members began in dining and moved to housekeeping, before becoming a part of the administrative team. Some worked in a different sector for years before pivoting to Goodwin Living. I was fascinated by the diverse background of everyone I met, and I appreciated how each individual member brought something unique to their team.

My Introduction to the Goodwin Living Foundation

Next, I learned about the Foundation and the various programs utilized by team members and residents. The Foundation initiatives are split between three main funds: The Staff Support Fund, The Resident Fund and the Area of Greatest Need fund. The Staff Support Fund assists staff with tuition reimbursement, citizenship application fees and provides emergency funds for team members. Thanks to the Resident Support Fund, no resident has had to leave a Goodwin House Life Plan Community due to experiencing unexpected financial hardships.

While the resident and employee funds are designated for specific causes, the Area of Greatest Need Fund can be applied anywhere the Foundation needs to direct more assistance. It was incredible to discover the detail that Goodwin Living puts into caring for their employees and residents, and what the Foundation does to make that all possible.

I learned so many things on day one, and the one consistency throughout all the introductions was this feeling of comfort and care at Goodwin Living—the feeling of being home.

Starting Up

As the internship continued, I spent more time interacting with both team members and residents. I met Corporate Director of Marketing and Communications Kathie Miller (and her wonderful dog, Remi) and we discussed my main project—team member interviews.

For this task, I would invite team members to tell their Goodwin Living story, and how the Foundation played a role in their journey. I worked with Marketing and Communications Specialists Timaeus Reed and Amanda Ranowsky, interviewing different team members with Timaeus’s assistance.

The interviews were so engaging. They gave me a closer look at how diverse and interdisciplinary the Goodwin Living team members truly are. It was eye-opening for me. I learned about everyone’s individual goals and the paths they took to achieve them, and how The Foundation played a role in supporting them. Even just spending time working with Kathie, Timaeus and Amanda taught me a lot about the dedication Goodwin Living team members had for each other and the organization.

I also learned details about residential living and what life at GHA and GHBC looks like. I saw how customizable the apartments are and how residents transform those apartments into their homes. I got to tour an amazing apartment on one of the top floors and marveled at the personal details in every single room. Not only was the view amazing, but the space matched up with exactly what the residents were searching for.

This instantly challenged the ideas I had been taught about senior living and healthcare as a child, as I began to understand how communities actually worked. At Goodwin Living, there is so much joy, care and love.

Perspectives Gained

As I entered my last week at Goodwin Living, I realized I have a completely refreshed view of a career senior living and healthcare. I assumed this internship would be very static, and I would be at a desk filing papers and emailing forms. Instead, I got to run around buildings taking photos of fun activities, meet new people every day and document their stories, and learn surprising new facts about how senior living actually works. This entire internship process has been engaging, and I’ve had a lot of fun creating new memories and being apart of a vibrant organization.

My internship at Goodwin Living ended up being the most dynamic thing I did all summer, while teaching me valuable life and work skills that would be difficult to get anywhere else.

My time at Goodwin Living reminded me to let new experiences surprise me. You never know where or when you will learn a vital skill. Interning at Goodwin Living has taught me to always be ready to learn from experience, and that a strong team can do anything when they’re working hard together. While I am excited to see what my future holds, I doubt I’ll ever have an experience quite like interning at Goodwin Living.

_________________

Salimata Sanfo is a rising senior at William and Mary University studying government on the pre-Law track, with a wide array of passions that include politics, law, marketing, journalism, PR and multimedia production. Her research interests revolve around administrative policy, social justice and pop culture analysis. When she isn’t at the gym or reading a book, you can find her at a dance class or taking pictures for her portfolio.

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