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updated: 1/17/2013 8:28 PM

Generations Forge Connections

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  • Residents and Servers at Sedgebrook retirement community in Lincolnshire make lasting connections.

    Residents and Servers at Sedgebrook retirement community in Lincolnshire make lasting connections.

Ivy Marketing Group

The median age at Sedgebrook drops significantly each night as the evening shift of dining room servers arrive. Since it opened its doors six years ago, Sedgebrook has used students from area high schools and colleges to staff Shoreline Dining Room and the adjoining café. It's a match made in heaven according to Margaret Rzenno, dining services operation manager for Sedgebrook.

The servers work after school through the end of the dinner hour clean-up. In addition to being paid, the students are provided a free meal, and Sedgebrook provides free after-school transportation from Mundelein and Stevenson High Schools.

Nicole Tagle has worked at Sedgebrook for the past two years as she is taking a break from attending beauty school. Nicole said that while the work hours are convenient and being provided with a free dinner is great, it's the connection with the residents that she really likes the most. "They are really nice and friendly and they care. They notice little things," she said. The residents are also interested and invested in the young people. "It's nice having a relationship with them," Nicole added.

Kati Michael, who attends Harper Community College, started working at Sedgebrook three years ago while she was a student at Stevenson High School. The residents and servers she said have become much like an extended family to her.

Margaret hires new servers with great care. "They need to have a respect for this generation," she said. "Serving skills they can learn, but this, they have to bring to the table." The servers genuinely care for the residents. "They keep track of what the residents like and don't like," she said.

While the relationships alone are meaningful, the residents have taken it upon themselves to show their gratitude to and support of the young people. They have established academic scholarships for continuing education to the servers who have worked for at least one year. These are awarded to the students each year that they attend college while working at Sedgebrook. Many of the students return to work there during the school vacations. Kati said that the money she receives in scholarship from the residents each year is generous, and helps with her college expenses.

Margaret said that the work arrangement works out well. "The residents love them and look forward to seeing them. It creates a very nice atmosphere."

Sedgebrook is a premier continuing care retirement community (CCRC) offering a diverse lifestyle, maintenance-free living and  outstanding amenities.  Radford Green Health Care and Rehabilitation is on the 92-acre Sedgebrook campus  in Lincolnshire, Illinois.  Sedgebrook is owned by Senior Care Development LLC and managed by Life Care Services LLC. For additional information visit or call 847-901-3319