For Kim McGinnis, director of resident services at The Village at Penn State, each day is a new opportunity to make residents smile. Planning fun events within the community and outings throughout local State College, residents look forward to the new activities that Kim helps organize each month. While she takes pride in finding a variety of events to suit residents’ unique interests, planning monthly calendars is just one part of Kim’s role that makes working at The Village so exciting.
An alumnus of Penn State University, Kim earned her undergraduate degree with a major in Individual Family Studies. Later gaining professional experience in social work, Kim landed a job as a volunteer and bereavement coordinator in hospice for over 11 years. “In that position, I ran bereavement support groups for individuals and families. I also did a lot of training and worked in marketing and fundraising. It was great because I was at the very beginning of my career and had many responsibilities that added up to valuable experience,” she says.
Enjoying her work in hospice for many years, Kim became interested in working primarily with an older population. This is where her career in senior living began. Kim started working in mental health with older adults and did marketing for a behavioral health program. She then became a social worker in a local senior living community. While she enjoyed her time with residents and families, Kim knew the community just wasn’t the right fit.
A New Adventure: Kim’s Journey to a Promising Career at The Village…
Hoping to find work in a different senior living community, Kim came across a job opening at The Village. “I saw the job description and it was every job I’ve ever done all wrapped into one. It was absolutely perfect for me!” she exclaims. When Kim got the job as Director of Resident Services at The Village in 2014, she was thrilled, and her work in the community has been a wonderful adventure ever since. “Including my work in hospice, I’ve had over 26 years of experience in senior living,” Kim reflects.
From housekeeping to dining, all of the staff here at The Village develop close relationships with residents. We really care about making them happy and ensuring that they enjoy their life here. That’s the most important part of our job every day.Kim McGinnis, director of resident services at The Village at Penn State
In her role at The Village, Kim wears many hats. As she coordinates a long list of exciting events and programs, she also develops and maintains the community’s close relationship with Penn State University. “I establish connections with faculty and professors from a variety of colleges within the university. Our residents are very intellectual so they enjoy when we have professors here to lead lectures and engaging conversations.”
In addition to strengthening the community’s ties with the university, Kim also manages transportation for residents in coordination with The Village’s drivers. “Residents really enjoy the transportation here. With the university so close, there’s so much for them to do and see. Our transportation services eliminate the worries of driving, parking, and walking for residents and their families. It’s also convenient for when they need to go to doctor’s appointments.”
As residents enjoy outings to PSU sporting events, local community performances, and more, they also enjoy a wide variety of fitness classes and opportunities for physical activity. “I help organize The Village’s fitness program and work closely with our fitness coordinator. She provides a variety of group exercise classes and personal training,” Kim says.
Utilizing The Village’s fully equipped fitness center and pool, residents also get plenty of exercise with one of the community’s newest developments, Palmer Park. Featuring professionally contoured golf putting and practice areas, residents enjoy a beautiful putting green alongside a multi-purpose area where they partake in recreational activities like bocce ball, yoga, and tai chi. Completed by the Arnold Palmer Design Company, the park includes fully landscaped gardens with winding walkways and a beautiful space for al fresco dining.
Explore the beautiful Palmer Park and see what life is like at The Village! Visit their website by clicking here.
Hiking with Kim: Introducing Residents to New Outdoor Activities
As Kim strives to promote residents’ physical health and overall well-being each and every day, she also finds wonderful ways to include residents in one of her own cherished hobbies. “I have a real passion for hiking, and go on hikes every weekend” she explains. Three years ago, Kim participated in a program that invites individuals to hike different parks and areas throughout the region, including Mount Nittany, the Allegheny Trail, and Penns Woods. The program teaches individuals about local ecosystems and guides them through outdoor adventures.
“They’re really great events for people of all ages. Anyone can attend,” Kim explains. Years ago when Kim was getting to know a new resident at The Village, she realized she had seen this woman before. “I asked her if she attended one of those hiking events and she said yes. Then I thought to myself, why don’t I include the residents on these fun outings? They would love them!” And so Kim did.
I enjoy everything about my job. I just like helping people. Seeing residents smile and be happy gives me great pleasure.
Kim began including these hikes in her monthly activities calendar and residents were thrilled. Pleased with their exciting outdoor adventures, residents have expanded their horizons with numerous hikes including Tytoona Cave and Arch Springs, Bernel Road Park, and more. Inspired by hiking, Kim also began adding different walking tours to her long list of activities. “There are historic districts throughout State College and they offer walking tours with guided booklets. The residents really enjoy walking through downtown State College and learning about the history of all the different buildings,” Kim adds.
Through COVID-19, in-person walking tours and hiking adventures were temporarily put on hold to ensure the community’s safety, however, virtual tours became the next big thing. “There are so many virtual tours available online, it’s amazing what’s out there. I would send residents virtual tours of national parks, online music concerts, and online events being held through the university, which they really liked.”
Virtual tours weren’t the only way the Village’s staff used their creativity to keep the community safe through challenging times. When the pandemic began, The Village had to temporarily postpone one of their most popular events, their monthly ice cream socials. Putting their creativity to the test, staff at The Village were able to continue this event for residents through COVID-19 in new ways that protected the health and safety of their community.
“We always get ice cream from Penn State Berkey Creamery, which is really popular on campus. When we had to cancel the typical ice cream socials, we ordered individually packed ice cream cups from the creamery and delivered them to residents on an ice cream cart. We got dressed up as traditional ice cream parlor workers and the residents loved it,” Kim laughs.
Bringing light to residents through challenging times, rolling ice cream carts, traveling happy hours, virtual tours, and socially distanced exercise programs like tai chi in Palmer Park, have brought happiness to many through COVID-19 while ensuring the safety of residents and staff. Looking forward to the future, The Village’s residents have certainly been pleased with the community’s outstanding efforts as life at The Village continues to be one of the happiest places in Happy Valley.
“So many residents have told me how thankful they are to be living at The Village, especially now. They appreciate everything we do for them and all of the staff here just want to make sure they’re happy. That’s really what we care about, that our residents are happy.”