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One Team

Willow Brook is an organization that has grown by leaps and bounds since its founding. In 1972, there were 25 residents, now there are 670. A staff of 25 members has grown to nearly 500, and 6,500 square feet of real estate under roof has expanded to 684,000. This growth has happened in phases over the course of 50 years, but even so, sometimes progress can strain tight-knit, senior living communities and give them a more corporate feel. Not so with Willow Brook. 

Our culinary team at Willow Brook Christian Village beautifully decorated the tables for the Joint Leader Luncheon this month.

Keeping track of the goings-on at the three individual locations within our footprint, and keeping leaders in relationship with one another, can be difficult. Recognizing this, even when Willow Brook was comprised of two campuses in the early 1990s, CEO Larry Harris created Joint Leader Luncheons. The luncheons were implemented in an effort to bring campus leaders together once a month to gather as one team, catch up on each campus’s latest news, and to address pressing issues as a united Willow Brook. With the exception of the two years that made meeting in–person impossible, these leader luncheons have stood the test of time, enduring as special opportunities for staff to share a meal together and be in community.

Our chefs showcase their cooking skills and creative new dishes
at the Joint Leader Luncheons -in good-natured competitions.

Anywhere from 30-40 leaders gather at the luncheon, with each Willow Brook campus alternately taking a turn as host. Leaders are encouraged to sit with and talk to peers from other campuses, taking a global view of what it means to be a Willow Brook employee. Everyone in attendance benefits from the good-natured competition between the campus chefs, who love to showcase their cooking skills and creative new dishes. 

Larry presents on Willow Brook's founding fathers at this month's Joint Leader Luncheon.

In addition to the Joint Leader Luncheons, Harris himself produces a monthly newsletter titled The Grapevine, which is dedicated to staff happenings on all three campuses. Each issue highlights a question that takes him into the communities to get answers from both new and seasoned staff. He meticulously seeks out and compiles staff information from campus leaders to give individual team members a “shout-out” or to announce if a staff member seeks prayers due to illness, has recently taken a vacation, gotten married, had a baby, 

graduated, lost a loved one, or welcomed a new animal companion into their lives. Nothing is too small to mention. Especially when movement between campuses is difficult, or as new staff come on board, The Grapevine serves an important role in keeping staff connected and recognized.

The napkins were beautifully crafted in the shape of roses for all to admire.

Finally, the Willow Brook Christmas Party, a mainstay for decades, has always been a key event for Willow Brook staff to gather and celebrate the holiday and the work accomplished in the past year. For the past two years, the party has been virtual, but staff are hopeful for an in-person return to a much-loved event.

Staying connected as One Team has never been more important as we strive to serve our residents with excellence amidst constant change. Our CEO has made it a priority for our staff to connect, communicate, and continue to care, come what may. 

Our leaders convene for a meeting after the meal portion of the lunch.

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