Getting the Story at All Cost

As a journalist, I learned early that sometimes you need to get creative to get the story. That’s a mentality that still comes in handy in my work with clients.

A few weeks ago, for instance, I attended a progressive lunch at Glenmeadow, a life plan community in Longmeadow that has been a client for three years now. I help plan and promote its free educational programs in a series called Glenmeadow Learning.

I’d helped raise awareness about the luncheon, which offered prospective residents an elegant four-course meal with a side of information. At the end of each course, a pair of experts from Glenmeadow who were on hand to answer diners’ questions changed tables. By the end of the meal, participants had heard from all eight experts in four topic areas.

My job was to write a blog on the luncheon. Trouble was, my clients at Glenmeadow didn’t want me or my laptop hanging out at the tables, set with fine linens and tableware. My presence, curiosity and eager notetaking were not fitting with the ambience, you could say.

So, I hung back and watched, but it’s hard to get the story when you can’t hear anything or ask questions. After the second course, when I saw the dining staff clearing tables, the lightbulb went on.

“Linda,” I said to my client, Linda Edwards of Glenmeadow’s marketing team. “If you can get me an apron, I’ll bus tables and help serve, and I’ll be able to hear everything.”

I was promptly rewarded with a maroon apron and a few pieces of paper, which I left on an empty table in the corner for unobtrusive notetaking. I removed dishes, handed out clean utensils, served seared salmon, bistro fillet of beef and strawberry rhubarb tarts. I poured coffee, and prepared tea in little silver pots. And I listened and took notes and heard enough to write this blog.

As always, I was impressed with the Glenmeadow event. The leaders there know so well how to raise awareness while providing an impeccable, gracious service to residents and the community at large.

Glenmeadow Learning is one of the many free programs Glenmeadow offers to residents of Greater Springfield. And these programs represent only one facet of the life plan community’s mission to serve seniors across the region and to operate as a socially accountable organization.

The educational programming is always received with gratitude—as it was at the luncheon. The conversation was lively, personal and organic, and with roses and petunias blooming outside in the Glenmeadow garden in the background, the setting was lovely.

Over 20 area residents attended; they learned about everything from the square footage of Glenmeadow’s apartments, to its Lifestyle Pass for those who live in their own homes and want to access programs, to Glenmeadow at Home, which offers everything from health care to handyman services to people living in their own homes.

Chef Ryan Vaughn prepared the four-course menu, and at each ring of the bell, these experts changed tables to offer information: resident Bill Burrows and Glenmeadow controller David Leslie, who answered financial questions; resident Cissie Kitchener and Laura Lavoie, director of life enrichment programs, who talked about conveniences and lifestyle; resident Naomi Schoenberg and Anne Thomas, president and CEO, who discussed Glenmeadow’s helpful, supplementary programs; and Emily Perkins, director of Glenmeadow at Home, and David Hastings, a client of that program, spoke on services available to people living in their own homes.

“This was a great way to do this. I enjoyed it. There was so much information,” said one guest.

I could hear him because I was clearing his table.

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