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The residents describe her as “effervescent” and “bubbly.” The vivacious young lady about whom they’re talking is Emma Dvorak, the life enrichment manager at The Springs Health and Rehabilitation Center at Monarch Landing. While new to the position, Emma is not new to the community. She worked as a server at Monarch Landing’s Millstone Restaurant starting in 2011 when she was a student at Metea Valley High School. “After I graduated from high school, they kept me on as a server during my college vacations. I loved it. It’s like a big family. The residents and staff are all so kind and accommodating.”

Emma’s part-time job ultimately led to her full-time career. She said that working at Monarch Landing as a teen made it evident to her, early on, that she wanted to pursue a career that would allow her to work with older adults.  She studied therapeutic recreation at Eastern Illinois University. “I focused on general wellness and well-being for seniors. I wanted to be able to provide them with a high quality of life. They’ve worked so hard all their lives and now should be having fun and enjoying a great life,” she said.

After graduating in 2017, Emma worked in fitness and wellness programs for senior communities. “I was commuting far and was ready to make a change, and I saw that Monarch Landing and The Springs were hiring in their life enrichment department. This is my home. It’s where I started and fell in love with working with seniors. I was hired as a life enrichment coordinator to run programs for residents in healthcare at The Springs. When the director position opened, I received that role and now oversee programming.”

Emma started in her leadership role about one month ago and is loving every minute of it. “I’m so happy and am still shocked that my dream came true. This is where my love for seniors began. It’s my home. I’m doing exactly what I want to do,” she said. “It’s always been the home I hoped to come back to. It’s been amazing and will keep getting better. Taking on these different roles and being a part of Monarch Landing and The Springs in so many different capacities is so exciting.”

Emma said she loves helping residents decide how they want to spend their day, and then making sure it happens. She said she is looking forward to implementing additional resident-centered programs. “I want to know more about the residents, and I want them to know more about each other. These are their neighbors. I also want to help make it easier for them to do more with their families and more with residents in independent living. We’re like a big modern family.”

Emma said that the residents’ willingness to do and try new things is inspiring to her. “When I was a server, I learned their menu preferences, but I didn’t really get to know a lot about what they liked to do for fun, what their occupations were, what their hobbies were, or other things like that. Now I have more time to talk with them, and it’s so interesting.”

Emma concluded, “I’ve known some of the residents since I was 16 and I served them dinner. Now I get to hang out with them and play games. It’s just perfect.”

Richard Nolden, the administrator of The Springs, is thrilled to have someone who has grown up at Monarch Landing, working her way up to management. “Our residents have inspired a generation of young people, and they’ve helped, to  create this desire to serve in the senior living industry.”