Last Updated on November 12, 2022

Merci Izquierdo-Whitaker

Merci Izquierdo-Whitaker
President 2022-23

Residents’ Council President’s Message for February

President’s Remarks for February 2023 Sunburst

The Greek Philosopher Heraclitus once said, “No man steps in the same river twice.” Today, we are not the same person we were yesterday nor will we be the same person tomorrow. And so it is with Charlestown. Many changes have taken place in Charlestown’s 40 years of existence. Before I had the privilege and honor to be elected as the Residents’ Council 38th President, I asked previous Council presidents what words of wisdom/advice they would give anyone aspiring to the position. The common theme was “Be flexible; conditions can change rapidly. Every year is different, and the community is dynamic with constant change being the norm.” Prophetic words, indeed.  Unexpectedly, Chandra Kumar, our past Executive Director left Charlestown to pursue a new career path. She began her short tenure with us by fostering a more productive partnership with the Council and actively sought out our opinion and that of individual residents with an open door policy.   We know that this will continue with Don Grove as our Interim Executive Director, who knows our community well.  We wish both continued success as they face the challenging change in their lives. Everything is change so we should try to not get upset about it. Reflect on the past but move forward; we will be okay.

 

The Residents’ Council actively continues to advocate for residents needs and opinions by whatever means possible and has requested greater transparency and communication from Administration and Corporate. We asked for more input into decisions made by them before those decisions are made. At the Council’s request, an update on IT was presented to the community by Erickson Living’s Chief Information Officer Hans Keller and VP of IT Operations and Enterprise Architecture Jay Romero, who answered many of the questions residents had regarding Wi-Fi and MyErickson issues. Slowly but surely, things are improving. For the first time Council members met with the Erickson Living Regional Executive Vice Presidents of Corporate Operations, Dining, Finance and Sales at their request. We had a productive meeting where we expressed various residents’ concerns, among them, the design standards used in the repositioning of the buildings as they relate to the safety needs of the aging population, especially concerning fall prevention.  The Council will meet with the Board of Directors on February 8. Please let any council member know of any issue that you would like us to discuss with them.  Soon, we will be hearing the results of the Holleran Survey and the response to the concerns expressed therein by the residents and Administration’s plans moving forward. Stay tuned!

Reminder

The Residents’ Council temporarily changed the time of the January and February meetings from 7:00 PM to 3:00 PM and promised to evaluate whether or not to go back to 7 PM depending on residents’ attendance. At the January meeting, we had a record attendance of 99 residents.  We encourage you to contact any council member with questions/issues you would like to bring up ahead of the meeting. Index cards will be available at the entrance to the auditorium for you to write them down. Or you can ask them after the committee reports at the meeting.

The next Residents’ Council Meeting will be held on Tuesday,

  February 7, 2023 at 3:00 PM in the Auditorium.

Residents’ Council President’s Message for January

President’s Remarks for January 2023 Sunburst

Tearing a monthly calendar page and beginning another should be a motive for celebrating another day of life.”  We leave behind a tumultuous year and look forward to starting things afresh. We can change those things we do out of habit and try something new. The philosopher Epictetus in his Discourses states “What assistance can we find in the fight against habit? Try the opposite!”  We know that we could be doing things differently or doing different things. There is plenty that we all could do to make our world a better place, one day at a time.  Repulse negativity. Don’t dwell on things out of your control. Live in the moment and don’t worry about the future. Instead, celebrate joyful occasions and seek the help of your Charlestown neighbors to work through challenging situations as they come. Let’s make 2023 a year of renewed interests, love, and, laughter.  Happy New Year from the Residents’ Council!

Speaking of doing things differently…

Responding to requests, and in an effort to encourage attendance, the Residents’ Council has decided to try changing the time of its 1st Tuesday of the month meeting from 7:00 PM to 3:00 PM for the months of January and February 2023.

The Council would like to have as much resident participation as possible and concluded that the change in time might be conducive to that end.  This is a temporary change and will be evaluated after the February meeting.

Charlestown Residents' Council logo

 The next Residents’ Council Meeting will be held on Tuesday,

  January 3, 2023 at 3:00 PM in the Auditorium.

December Comments from the Council President

Generosity is a quality displayed in Charlestown time and time again. Whether it be just kindness and concern toward each other, volunteering of time and talents, or supporting charities by contributing materials, food and money, Charlestown residents express their generosity daily. Our employees, too, have been generous. The daily care and attention they give to our needs exceed what is expected of them and many have become like family. We give each other a listening ear, hugs, affection, and comfort when needed. We have all been negatively affected by the economy, yet your generous contribution to the Staff Appreciation Fund will help our wonderful employees have a nicer holiday season. Thank you; they so appreciate your generosity.

As we celebrate the winter holidays, let’s try to celebrate what went well this year instead of dwelling on what went wrong, especially if it was beyond our control. Let’s find something to be grateful for. Many dream of what we are blessed with: a wonderful home, delicious food at our table, medical care at our doorstep and the opportunity to make new friends just by stepping out of your door. Beautiful things happen when you distance yourself from negativity! Smile! It’s the best anti-depression medicine.

I am grateful for you and wish you and your families a wonderful holiday season. May you be continued to be blessed!

Merci Izquierdo-Whitaker,
Residents’ Council Presidents 2022-2023

November Comments from the Council President

Thanks to all of you that completed the Holleran Resident Satisfaction Survey. A special thanks to you who commented on what you found good and what needs to be improved at Charlestown after thoughtfully considering the experiences you have had during the past two years. Charlestown will receive a report from the survey company, including comments made, which will be read and considered by the Administration and the Board of Directors to guide them as they strive to make our home as good as it can be.

November, a month to give thanks. The Roman philosopher Seneca wrote: “In all things we should try to make ourselves be as grateful as possible….gratitude pays itself back in large measure.” As we turn our attention to the holiday season, we are grateful for the opportunity to spend happy times with family and friends.

We will be grateful for the restoration of health to those that are ill. We will morn for those we lost and take the time to comfort those left behind by celebrating the lives of their loved ones, by sharing their stories and gratefully remembering happy memories.

We are grateful for the sacrifice of our Veterans, for the right to vote and for the bounty at Thanksgiving. We are grateful for Charlestown employees who have one way or another made and continue to make our daily lives easier. We have the opportunity to show our gratitude to them in a very meaningful way by generously giving to the Staff Appreciation Fund, now underway.

I am grateful for you; we get to celebrate life together!

Merci Izquierdo-Whitaker
Residents’ Council President 2022-23

October Comments from the Council President

Since my installation as President in early August, I have participated in a whirlwind of activities on your behalf. I have established a close working relationship with our Executive Director Chandra Kumar. She recognizes the role the Residents’ Council (RC) plays as your voice and believes strongly in its ability to discuss resident concerns and find ways for possible resolution. We may not always get what we want, but we will certainly have our opinions heard with respect. Already, we have spent many hours discussing issues that have surfaced, old and new. She has already advocated for resident needs and wishes.

The Sunburst logo, an important part of our Charlestown identity, will be used in as many places as possible. Prolific input from residents was captured at three group sessions with corporate architects regarding preliminary architectural plans for repositioning the Historic District. Yes, they got the message that we want another dining room there! Further sessions will be held when suggested changes are submitted and Chandra and her team will be doing town talks to discuss them with you; transparency at its best. With others, the RC participated in the soft opening of the breakfast café located at the old Fountain Hill marketplace, one of the facilities that we requested (the food was delicious). Also, the RC participated in a blind taste of the proposed Erickson Senior Living’s salt free blend of spices created for use in Erickson enterprise restaurants. (It was fun; I hope you like the result.)

Stop rumors in their tracks! The RC through its committees does work very hard to advocate for you with Administration and the Board of Directors. Yes, we want to hear your opinions! Yes, we wish for more of you to participate in its committees. As Charlestown enters its 40th year celebration, I encourage you to participate in making this community even better than it is. Celebrate life to its fullest.

Merci Izquierdo-Whitaker
Residents’ Council President 2022-23

September Comments from the Council President

Celebrate Life!

Merci Izquierdo-Whitaker
Residents’ Council President 2022-23

The Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez once said: “It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old. They grow old because they stop pursuing dreams.” We all have something that we wanted to do but never had the time or the chance to pursue it. Now we have the opportunity. I have tried to learn or do something new every day, no matter how insignificant. I invite you to do the same. Make a new friend, learn a new game, join a club, read to someone with low vision, or learn how to swim. We tend to live in the “I will do, so and so, later.” We leave everything for later, as if later was the best time to do whatever, forgetting that what’s gone is gone, never to be found again. Life is short and life ends later. Don’t let “later” rule your life.

Getting too old; what do you mean? Nearly four years ago, my husband David and I moved to this wonderful and vibrant community. We were excited about the many clubs and activities available to enjoy. Soon we engaged in a whirlwind of activity, first as Eucharistic Ministers at our beautiful Our Lady of the Angels Chapel and then as Dining Ambassadors. Withing months, I agreed to run for the Residents’ Council. I lost, but I won, being appointed as Assistant Chair of the Dining Committee when a one-year vacancy occurred in the Council. I won the next election, served as Chair of the Health and Wellness Committee, then as Vice President and now President. Had we waited for later to move in, we would have lost all the time and fun we had getting to know you and learning new skills.

My theme for this year is “Celebrate Life!” The fact that we are alive is amazing. Let’s continue celebrating life to the fullest harmoniously and joyfully, here, our home for life!

Merci Izquierdo-Whitaker
September 1, 2022

August Comments from the Council President

This is my last article as president of the Residents’ Council. This year has flown by. Where does the time go? Last September we were just opening back up. Now, we are much closer to “normal” although we are still not quite sure what post-pandemic “normal” is going to look like.

For me, it has been a busy and rewarding year. In my farewell interview on 972, Mimi asked me what I had accomplished over this year. My first response is that any accomplishments are shared with all of the members of the Residents’ Council and the members of the Council committees. Most of the work of the Residents’ Council is done in the committees. Of course, we don’t have the power to make or change policies, but we work to communicate residents’ needs to the administration and to advocate for residents. This year, we have focused on accessibility issues. Looking for ways to allow as many residents as possible to enjoy all of the activities and amenities available here at Charlestown. We have also established relationships with the Resident Advisory Councils (RAC’s) at other Erickson communities to exchange ideas and information.
All of the committees have done good work this year. The Legislative and Political Committee has provided information concerning redistricting and sponsored candidate forums to help residents make informed decisions. The Health and Wellness, Safety and Security, Conservation, and Finance Committees have provided education on the vaccines, fall prevention, recycling, and the financial well-being of Charlestown. The Benevolent Care Committee has supported fund raising activities for the Benevolent Care Fund. The Dining Committee has provided feedback and advocated for those with dietary restrictions. During the wi-fi upgrade, the Communications Committee worked to ensure that residents received the help they needed to take advantage of the upgrade as well as continuing to push for better communications using all of the avenues available. The Resident Life Committee advocated for residents and, in particular, the inclusion of lists of newcomers and memorials in the Sunburst. We are especially proud of the formation of the Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging Subcommittee. The Grounds, Housekeeping, and Maintenance and Engineering Committees may not be the most romantic committees, but the members of these committees represent multiples pairs of eyes that look for problems and help keep our community clean, well-kept and running smoothly.

Last but not least, the Nominating and Elections Committee recruits candidates and runs the elections for the Residents’ Council. On their behalf, I ask you for two things. First, vote in the elections on August 3rd. Second, next year, when someone asks you to consider running for the Council, please give it some serious though. The Residents’ Council is here for you only if residents step forward to participate.

Pat Rudolph
Residents’ Council President

July Comments from the Council President

This month we say good-bye to our long-time Executive Director, Clara Parker, and hello to our new Executive Director, Chandra Kumar. Over the last year, we have seen many changes in the administration of Charlestown. We have welcomed a new Finance director, Gladstone James, and a new General Services director, Jason Spivey. We have also seen old friends take on new roles including Karen Leighton as Resident Services director, and Don Grove as Associate Executive Director. With all of these changes we are fortunate that we have been able to tap into the deep well of talent within the Erickson Senior Living organization. Residents sometimes express annoyance at “corporate” and there are certainly times that we would prefer to do things the “Charlestown way” rather than the “Erickson Senior Living way.” Nevertheless, the ability to recruit experienced and proven leaders from other communities within the organization means that we can look forward to a smooth transition.
For many of us, Clara has been Executive Director since we moved in. She has guided the community through some very difficult times, and we will miss her. As the president of the Residents’ Council, I have had the opportunity of collaborating with her closely and I value her openness and caring. We wish her joy in her new adventures.

Pat Rudolph
Residents’ Council President

June Comments from the Council President

This month we say good-bye to our long-time Executive Director, Clara Parker, and hello to our new Executive Director, Chandra Kumar. Over the last year, we have seen many changes in the administration of Charlestown. We have welcomed a new Finance director, Gladstone James, and a new General Services director, Jason Spivey. We have also seen old friends take on new roles including Karen Leighton as Resident Services director, and Don Grove as Associate Executive Director. With all of these changes we are fortunate that we have been able to tap into the deep well of talent within the Erickson Senior Living organization. Residents sometimes express annoyance at “corporate” and there are certainly times that we would prefer to do things the “Charlestown way” rather than the “Erickson Senior Living way.” Nevertheless, the ability to recruit experienced and proven leaders from other communities within the organization means that we can look forward to a smooth transition.

For many of us, Clara has been Executive Director since we moved in. She has guided the community through some very difficult times, and we will miss her. As the president of the Residents’ Council, I have had the opportunity of collaborating with her closely and I value her openness and caring. We wish her joy in her new adventures.

Pat Rudolph
Residents’ Council President