Behind the Scenes launches at Friendship Village

Friendship Village in Schaumburg takes up 949,000+ square feet of space, boasting more than 900 residents, 550 staff members in 16 different departments, and five different levels of care. It's logical and accurate to assume that there's a lot going on to make the senior living community run like the well-oiled machine it is.

With this in mind, coupled with curiosity, and the wonders of modern technology, Behind the Scenes at Friendship Village, has been launched. Jeannette Magdaleno, manager of lifelong learning and volunteer services, said that the resident-run lifelong learning committee members suggested the project. Burke MacDonald, a resident of Friendship Village and Jack Hattendorf, media and technology coordinator, were the perfect team to bring it to fruition. Behind the Scenes is a series of narrated videos of Friendship Village, available for staff and residents to view.

Burke is the second generation of his family to live at Friendship Village.

"My mother lived here for 18 years, and my in-laws lived here for nine years as well," said the longtime Schaumburg resident. He and his wife moved to Friendship Village in April of 2021.

In his retirement, Burke became a volunteer reporter for the Schaumburg Park District, producing TV stories about interesting village residents and programs. He recalled that Jeannette would often connect him with interesting Friendship Village residents and programs to feature for the Schaumburg Park District Schaumburg Heartbeat television program. Burke enjoyed this for 20 years until COVID started, subsequently ending his gig.

"I had really enjoyed doing that, and when Jeannette told me about the idea for Behind the Scenes, I was interested. I like finding out about people and things, and I knew that residents have an interest in how things work here," he said.

Jack, who is talented in videography, agreed to work with him.

The first production went behind the scenes of Friendship Village's amazing dining program. Burke interviewed the dining services manager, Steven Mansmith, as well as hands-on staff members, including chefs, cooks, dishwashers, platers and more. He learned how things were prepared, seasoned, stirred, chopped, fried and served up. Kitchen staff hours begin daily at 5 a.m. and run until after 8 p.m.

Burke also interviewed the staff responsible for accepting and stocking deliveries for dining. The department receives at least three deliveries daily. They inventory, at all times, three full days of supplies for the entire campus in case of a weather event or emergency. Every item has a specific way and place in which to store it.

Burke said that one of his objectives in taping Behind the Scenes in the dining department was to show the residents all the daily hard work the staff does.

On the flip side, he said, "I think the staff we interviewed feel proud that people are focusing on what they're doing day in and day out. They know that the residents appreciate the food, but this helps build the staff's morale."

The second Behind the Scenes episode is about what transpires when a resident pushes their medical alert button.

"We decided to educate residents about what happens. It's a big mystery," Burke said.

Friendship Village's security team will respond immediately to assess the situation, and if there's any possible kind of injury, they will call the paramedics to evaluate. The staff at the hospital emergency room is apprised of the situation as well.

Burke and Jack went to the Schaumburg Fire Department to shoot some of their footage.

"We had no idea there are so many systems, radios and computers. We found out that the fire department responds to more than 10,000 calls per year from Schaumburg. It's amazing to see the random things they deal with," said Jack.

The Behind the Scenes team enjoyed putting together their first two productions and hopes to do more.

"We've gotten positive feedback," said Jack, "and there's so much going on in the community. It's fun to learn what transpires behind the scenes and share that with the residents."

Friendship Village is a leading Life Plan retirement community offering independent living garden homes and apartment homes, as well as assisted living, memory support, skilled nursing care, and short-term rehabilitation services. For 45 years, Friendship Village has been providing Chicago area seniors with exceptional retirement living options.

For information, call (847) 884-5110 or visit

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