Charlestown Retirement Community employees say they take care of their own. And by their own, they mean the 1,250 people who work there and the 2,000 seniors who call the community home.
The flagship campus of Erickson Living provides free daily shuttle transportation for employees living in Baltimore City, tuition reimbursement, an on-site medical center where employees can get everything from flu shots to antibiotics for strep throat, talent development programs to train existing employees to become emergency medical responders and a Charlestown Speaks! program, which teaches employees public speaking skills.
Employees also provide everything from home maintenance and dining services to social activities and medical care for residents on the 110-acre Catonsville campus.
“You’re helping people through sometimes difficult times in their lives, sometimes absolutely joyful times in their lives, but because of the way we run our communities and the culture that we create, you get to know people,” says Clara Parker, Charlestown’s executive director. “You build relationships, and it becomes an extended family.”
The bond is especially strong between residents and the teenage dining staff, she says.
“It’s almost in some cases like they’ve created a surrogate grandparent/grandchild relationship,” Parker says.
Each year, residents raise money for a student scholarship program. Since it launched in 1988, the program has granted nearly $4 million to over 1,200 college-bound employees.
Many of the students come back to work at Charlestown once they receive their degrees, says Paulette Tansill, the director of human resources.
“Sometimes people think, ‘It’s a retirement community — how can I build a career there?’ ” she says. “But this is a great place to build a career. There’s lot of opportunities here, and I think that’s the one hidden secret that a lot of people don’t know.”
Casey Jaekle knew. That’s why he has worked for Erickson Living for the last 14 years. After jobs across the company in human resources, dining services and sales, he received his master’s degree in health care administration — paid for by Erickson — and became Charlestown’s administrator of health care.
“I’ve served in a number of different capacities within Erickson, but the thing that brings me to work every day and what I enjoy has never changed,” Jaekle says. “That’s making a difference in our residents’ and staff’s lives.”
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