When she realized what a positive difference she could make in peoples’ lives, she decided the corporate world was not for her. For 30 years, Geralene Greco, the new move-in coordinator at Monarch Landing senior living in Naperville, worked in IT for major corporations. She was very successful but not fulfilled. Several years ago, Geralene left her job to care for her mother, and when she reentered the workforce, she workednwith her husband in his real estate company in Batavia. When Geralene started volunteering for Meals on Wheels and Little Brothers of the Elderly, she discovered her unleashed passion for helping seniors.
“When I was delivering meals for Meals on Wheels, the supervisor would have to keep calling me to tell me I was taking too long visiting. I loved connecting with the clients so much,” she said. “I hadn’t known that services like these existed, and I was so inspired by how important they were to the seniors. Working with them made me feel like I had a purpose.”
Last year her husband got a call at the office, inquiring if he knew anyone who “’liked real estate and seniors’. He handed the phone to me,” she said. Monarch Landing was hiring a move-in coordinator, and Geralene was the perfect person for the job.
In her role which she’s now had since June, Geralene is responsible for helping new residents during the moving process, from start to finish. “As soon as the Monarch Landing sales process is complete, I step in and help with anything and everything,” she said. Often times, this involves the sale of an existing home. With her experience in real estate, familiarity with the area, and objective perspective she said, “I can give objective advice that maybe their realtor doesn’t want to say to them.”
Geralene helps make connections with valuable resources including downsizing experts. “Downsizing is the biggest hurdle for most people. The thought of it alone is often the reason people wait so long to make the decision to move. This is especially true for people who raised their children in their homes that they’ve lived in for 30 years or more. There’s a huge emotional component and I make sure that I’m sensitive to that,” she said. Geralene added, “The people who use a downsizing expert are the happiest people moving in. It makes the process so much better, and the journey to them being settled in and comfortable, much shorter.”
Geralene also helps the new residents connect with moving companies, and navigate the community including contracts, meal plans storage, and more.
The most fun part of her job, Geralene said, is “going through the process of designing their new apartment.” Sometimes the new residents just want a fresh coat of paint, but others want more extensive redecorating and remodeling including new flooring, cabinets, and appliances. Some want walls removed and molding put in.
By integrating tiered pricing options for designing the apartments, Geralene said that Monarch Landing has ensured there’s something for everyone. “We now have everything from simple to very high-end finishes. We’ve really upped the game and the things that residents can choose from are absolutely stunning,” she said. “I’m so happy that we’re able to give the residents a lot of choices. I make sure to keep up on the newest trends.”
“I make sure that I stay current on trends so I can help advise them. I work with the residents, and I work with the contractors and general services to make sure that we’re doing the best job possible, cost-effectively and with the highest quality,” Geralene said. “People have saved all their lives for their retirement home, and it’s important to me that I make sure that the finished product is absolutely perfect. I make sure that the residents know that we care about their new home just as much as they do.”
Geralene said that she loves seeing residents who she’s helped, after they’ve settled in. “They’ll be in the hallways socializing or will stop in and visit me. They always tell me how happy they are. What I hear time after time is that the biggest mistake they’ve made is not having moved in sooner. I’ve never moved anyone in here that hasn’t been happy. It’s 100% satisfaction. You don’t find that everywhere!”
Geralene concluded, “For more than 30 years I traveled the globe and worked in a high-pressure corporate job, and there was never a time that I loved it. Now I am so fortunate. I just love coming to work. It is such a joy. I can’t wait to be here every single day.”