The hospitality industry is larger than one might think and sits within the wider service sector. Foodservice management companies like Cura are competing for the same talent in restaurants, hotels, catering…basically any business that has customer satisfaction as one of its core functions.
It’s a challenging time, but Cura’s recruiting efforts continue to be strong, especially with high school and college team members who graciously serve our residents, patients, and guests!
According to Cura Managing Director of Growth TJ Alibrio, we are proud of our student workforce, many of whom are studying healthcare in college and applying what they learn on the job. “It’s a win-win for us, as we are able to provide a rewarding work experience that supports their healthcare areas of study, while we recruit and potentially retain these remarkable individuals who may consider senior living careers with Cura!”
Jill Cottrell, a recent high school graduate and home health aide for Woodbury Senior Living (Woodbury, MN), was the 2021 winner of the Rising Star Award presented at the Care Providers of Minnesota 73rd Annual Convention & Expo. Jill began her career with Cura where she discovered her love in caring for the elderly while working as a dining room server. Jill transitioned into a caregiver role as a home health aide with Woodbury Senior Living, a Cura client.
During a peek in COVID cases, Jill helped to transport COVID-positive residents to the community’s COVID units. Jill does not turn away from discomfort and suffering. Her strength is compassion for others, figuring out ways to connect with all residents – whether it’s playing the ukulele for residents or performing a wheelchair dance, she attempts to halt the terrible effects of isolation. Residents are always delighted, smiling, clapping, and happy to retire to their rooms. Now registered at nursing school, Jill will continue to engage our residents, going out of her way to enhance life around great food!
Laura Beecher owes a lot of her success to Cura Hospitality, a company she states is an ‘awesome place to work.’ Laura shares her story here…
“I was working as a part-time evening dietary aide at Lifesprk (formerly Tealwood) Birchwood Senior Living in Forest Lake, Minnesota, out of high school while I was taking college courses. As new positions opened within the community, I applied for them. As a company that promotes from within, I soon became the receptionist, then a scheduling coordinator, and next human resources intern. I eventually accepted a job within Lifesprk’s corporate office as the human resources assistant. Once I gained all the knowledge and skills I could, I was promoted to manager back at my home location, Birchwood. I’m fortunate I started working at Birchwood early on because of the connections I’ve made along the way. I still tell people to this day that my favorite job was working in the kitchen for Cura at Birchwood!”
At Phoebe Berks in Wernersville, PA, Cura employed dedicated student workers like Alyssa Dzurkovich, 19, a server and dietary aide for the past two and a half years. Alyssa is one of 19 high school student servers from Conrad Weiser and Wilson High Schools who during the COVID shutdown, were employed to assemble 1,000 meals, prepared fresh, and delivered to resident doorsteps daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Alyssa and other student dining workers continue to make a difference in the lives of the residents, helping them to remain positive and giving them cheer during this challenging time. They are drawing pictures on take-out containers and sending messages of love and “miss you” to the residents.
Although staples and other grocery items are available for purchase through dining, student workers even fulfilled the grocery lists of 90 residents shopping for specialty food items at the local Redner’s.
“The residents are very sweet people. They thank us by writing us notes or messaging back. Seeing their positive faces makes me feel good,” says Alyssa. “Having touched the lives of so many who need so much help during a crisis of unprecedented proportions, I’m leaning toward some type of social work.”
After 15 long months, residents at Presbyterian SeniorCare’s Longwood at Oakmont in Verona, PA, were thrilled to finally be able to dine “in person”.
According to Mary Kay Grippa, Cura general manager of dining, the pandemic was challenging for the staff who prepared and delivered 100 boxed lunches and 300 dinners daily to five neighborhoods spreading across the 60-acre campus. “We were fortunate to employ many college students who were able to work because they were learning remotely.” Of the 134 hourly staff members, 65% are college students who are majoring in nursing and healthcare from schools like the University of Pittsburgh, Duquesne University, Penn State University, and Clarion University. Ms. Grippa even employs a nursing home administration major who enjoys working with residents in the memory support neighborhood.
Though residents were excited to come in the dining room, they were especially happy to see and visit with our student workers like Leah Ford, Syracuse University student, and Carly Glover, The University of Pittsburgh student (pictured here)