Beacon Hill at Eastgate Expert Series
The month of March marks Women’s History Month, and we are delighted to celebrate another talented woman on our staff: Sarah Johnson. If you’re planning a celebration, reception, birthday party or Valentine’s Day fun activity, you want her on your team. How lucky that Beacon Hill has this extremely talented and committed woman working on the myriad events here. While there’s no denying that the scope of Sarah’s responsibilities changed and morphed a bit during the almost year we’ve lived with COVID, she has more than adjusted and continues to master plan and execute lively and creative activities and events that engage and delight our residents.
Sarah amassed an impressive resume before coming to Beacon Hill nearly four years ago, having worked with the Hope Network Foundation as well as Director of Events and Conferencing at Aquinas College and as the Food & Beverage Manager for Frederik Meijer Gardens for 12 years. Let’s just say she was well qualified for her current position!
Sarah remembers her introduction to Beacon Hill at Eastgate. It was in May of 2017 and plans were well underway for the Grand Opening of the Community House and Garden Café. At the time (and still) Sarah served on the Advisory Board for the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education and recalls what a “lovely surprise” it was to meet at Beacon Hill. “I was so impressed – such a beautiful building and campus and the thoughtful planning and choices that went into everything from the décor to the gardens to the dishes even the flatware.”
She also recalls how amazed she was at all Beacon Hill had accomplished since building its new campus on the land vacated by Metropolitan Hospital and how “it all took root and became established within the Eastgate Neighborhood.”
Her interest was also piqued by the level of activity at Beacon Hill and she was struck that this vibrant group of residents, and the talented staff who worked there, were all part of a retirement community. Sarah just knew that “cool and interesting things” were happening at Beacon Hill. It wasn’t but a short time later that Sarah saw the job posting and although she was not “looking” the job appealed to her. And how happy we are that it did.
Sarah doesn’t hesitate a second to respond that what she enjoys most about working at Beacon Hill are, “of course, the residents,” and such a great community and diverse group of people at different stages of their lives. She says she learns something new about the residents every day. “They each have such unique and amazing stories; it’s like living with your grandparents – I just love it.”
A lot goes into planning successful special events says Sarah. She enjoys working with a group of individuals who are “idea” people and then finding the best way to translate those ideas into a great happening. “I always have a Plan B, or C or D and I like troubleshooting and making sure that I am as prepared as possible for any unforeseen circumstances.”
According to Sarah, what’s different about planning events at Beacon Hill is that she can personalize and brand events. “We’re smaller and can hand-craft our offerings and be a little more creative. I just love that we can provide so much more for our residents and our Eastgate neighbors.”
Like everyone at Beacon Hill Sarah jumped in with both feet to work as a team to make sure that life for our residents remained as joyful and interesting as possible during this virus siege. She started working more with the assisted living and skilled nursing residents at 1845. “It was very fun but also challenging as there were much tighter restrictions.” Some of the activities included a “flower power” day devoted to doing floral arrangements. They also hosted virtual activities with speakers from Calvin College via Zoom (of course). Sarah commented on how important these activities are especially since, until very recently, residents could not see their families and the comradery the events provided were vital.
Sarah looks forward to resuming a more traditional calendar of special events and programs that bring our residents together in unique and exciting ways while enhancing the everyday experiences of those she serves. “I am so pleased and proud to have the ability to provide creative programming and experiences to the Beacon Hill community.”