As part of our Day in the Life series, Gary Dolan, Director of Environmental Services at The Village at Penn State, shares how he created a culture that defines excellence in service. Here is Gary’s story:
I’ve been very fortunate to have a position that is constantly evolving and presenting new opportunities to learn. The Village is always a beehive of activity, especially in the areas I get to work in. Within my job I oversee housekeeping, laundry, and the facilities side such as maintenance, security and all the work done on 60 acres of grounds. My department also works closely with Liberty’s IT staff to make sure all our tech is running smoothly.
In the past several years, with all the construction going on, I’ve also been working with Dave DeLuca, Liberty’s Director of Real Estate Development, which has been so rewarding given his knowledge. It’s been a great few years with the addition of the completed community room and connector hallway. Now, with the construction of a new main entrance lane, our Commons building expansion, Palmer Park and the new cottages that surround it, another round of development is underway. We also manage renovations to current apartments. I really appreciate what my team is able to do there and how creative they can be.
Managing the grounds is always interesting for us. For example, when the starlings roost at the University’s football stadium and their staff chases them away, they fly right to our campus. So we need to manage that when they try to take up residence on our buildings.
Being so close to Penn State, we have a lot of very intelligent, engaged and active people living here, some of whom are retired academics that desire to be sincerely involved in some of the day to day operations. Being that the University has its roots in agriculture, a lot of our residents are particularly knowledgeable about managing plants and grounds. Some of them are master gardeners. It’s always interesting to learn from them and to get their feedback on caring for things, such as different hand pruning techniques, and what specific fertilizers we should be using on certain plants and not on others. The residents aren’t shy about sharing that insight, so I’ve been very lucky to learn from them.
I am very proud of our amazing staff. There is no way I could oversee everything this position calls for without their help. They’re always going the extra mile. The key thing is that we’re not in a silo. We have oversight of an entire campus and when someone has a problem it’s our problem too, because we often have the ability to remedy the situation or at least lend a hand.
Everything that you can see, feel, touch, and smell at The Village has to do with our work. Whether it’s the lights or phones, or helping fix something in the gym or the kitchen, we deal with everything that has to do with the quality of life at The Village. So the day-to-day can be an adventure, and not to be cliché but in my entire time here, no day is ever the same. I love it. There is not one single day, when it comes to 3:00 or 4:00 in the afternoon that I don’t truly wish it was 10:00 in the morning because there is so much to do. The days just fly by.
We are here for our residents and it’s so important that they know that. We can’t just show up to work and do our job on the grounds, or the laundry, or maintenance. We are caregivers just as much as anyone else and it’s important to remember that when it comes to the service we provide, I’m fortunate to work with people who truly believe that. It’s not just about fixing a sink or a light; it’s about providing help in all areas to create a positive experience in all outcomes. I love that our team has pride in service.
I have the opportunity to learn from residents every day. I just really appreciate the amount of learning this job continues to provide from both them and the people I get to work with.
One other thing I’d like to note is that the Association for the Healthcare Environment, which is a peer group of the American Hospital Association, has been critical in my career within this industry. I was fortunate to serve as national president of the association in 2011 and again in 2016 throughout 2017. Liberty Lutheran has been so supportive of my involvement and I am very thankful for that. It’s wonderful being able to work for a group of people that recognize opportunities for professional and personal growth. They know it’s key to the entire organization, not just the individual.
To learn more about The Village at Penn State, Palmer Park, and the new cottages, please visit RetireatPennState.org.
For information about working at The Village at Penn State, or Liberty’s other communities, please visit LibertyLutheran.org/job-listings.