Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Town Hall

Well, it’s almost here!

The first Town Hall meeting, I mean.

The first one I am in charge of, actually.

One of the”perks” of being President of the Resident Council is that you get to “chair” this monthly meeting.

When I was nominated for the job of Resident Council Member - by the two continuing members, actually - they told me that the biggest problem they had was a poor attendance at these meetings.

Kind of “my first assignment”, really.

Their intention in nominating me became apparent the first meeting after the election: they voted me in as the President.

When I’m writing this, it’s less than 24 hours ahead of the meeting, and, earlier this evening, while walking down to supper, I passed in the hallway, my EXPECTED Mystery Resident - that NO ONE here suspects is so - but me.

In passing her by (as I always do since I walk so fast), I casually said to her,

“Planning to come to the Town Hall Meeting tomorrow afternoon?”

(Just a little assurance is all that I needed.)

“You know”, she said, kinda pausing, “I can never hear what goes on in those meetings, so I suppose I won’t go.”

(An unexpected sweat breaks out on my brow - and it ISN’T the heat!)

“Uh… know, we bought a Public Address System for this meeting, just because many said they couldn’t hear.”

“I’ve always thought something like that was needed.”

Stalling now, I say,

“Sure would like to have you come and let me know how the new idea worked - as a special favor to me.”

(Any sign of “capitulation”?)

“Well, we’ll see”, she said. “I have to go to the bank, and I’ll see what time is left.”

Here I am, now, less than 24 hours before catastrophe, sitting helplessly at my computer, not knowing whether “the best laid plans of mice and men sometimes go awry”, fits this situation .

(Why did I have to think of THAT phrase?)

I hope I can sleep after this!

Maybe a light blow to my skull would help. (Would you believe a “heavy” one?)

And, why did I have to think up this crazy idea of telling my thoughts BEFORE something drastic would happen?

(Expecting NOTHING DRASTIC would happen, I guess.)

It’s too late now, unless I delete what I‘ve just written.

I think I’ll go to bed and cogitate - not to mention pray!

The only comforting thing I can think of is that ON THE POSSIBILITY that something like this COULD happen, I kept my options open by NOT telling anyone who the Mystery Resident was intended to be. Not even that person.

“I’ll just interview another, and act like it was the first choice”, I thought.

“Thought”, mind you, NOT expecting it to happen!

“Any how”, my justifying mind keeps saying, “there was nothing so spectacularly better about this one than another one. There are several who would qualify.”

“And, they’re MY criteria, anyway.”

Good night!

Monday morning at breakfast: Town Hall later today.

I have begun getting together all of the gear needed - one amplifier; two speakers; two microphones; iPod for “prelude” music; “iPod dock” to play it on; two speaker cables; two microphone cables; Aux connecting cable from dock to amplifier; AC extension cable; and a four wheel cart to haul it on.

At lunch, I see the “prospective” Mystery Resident” has arrived to eat.

Good sign!

Nodding to her, I smiled.

(She doesn’t have a clue.)

Same is true of others. I’ve had at least one Aide venture a guess as to the name, and several others who think the “blank” photo looks like their candidate - All wrong!

At lunch, Timi asked me if I wanted to make a final push announcement for the Town Hall meeting, and I said,

“Why don’t you do it.”

She did - in her own inimitable, convincing way. Many smiled at me.

A few minutes later, I remembered that I hadn’t made a public announcement about the PA system helping us old “hard-of-hearing” seniors understand what is going on, so I did so, smiling at my “Mystery Resident” again, and sat down.

I had picked out a “Playlist” of songs to use as a “prelude”, and last night before going to sleep, I timed it at just over one hour.

So, if I start the iPod just before leaving for the Dining Hall, it will time out at just before 2 PM.

I arrived at the Dining Hall just before 1 PM. The staff members were still eating lunch, so I got out all of my gear, and began “hooking it up” a little at a time.

Shortly, Timi came back, and doing what she always does at Dining Hall “get-to-gethers” - began moving the tables to the outer edge of the Hall, and then lining up the chairs in a modified semi-circle - row by row - from the front.

She always sets up two or three tables up front for the members of the Resident Council to sit, with a chair for me at one end. I think she had planned on my being behind the tables, in the middle, being the Chairman of the meeting.

But, since I had to be out front to do the Mystery Resident interview, I moved my chair to the outside end of the tables, along with a microphone at either side of the room.

Timi took down all the names of the attending residents to put in the “hat” for the later drawing. Quicker than having them all “sign-in” she figured.

They began arriving at about 1:30, but were encouraged to wait in the Outer Lobby until the chairs were all set up.

I tried to help some with the chairs, but since Timi knew of my lower back problems - that will hopefully be resolved tomorrow with the impending “caudal epidural” shot I am to receive - she headed me toword the nearest chair as much as she could.

The two Maintenance Men brought in the large “over-stuffed” chair I had requested for the Mystery Resident, and placed a “RESERVED” sign on it and spotted it right up front, stage right.

I glanced up from the “chair moving”, and noticed the arrival of my Mystery Person near the back.


Since we all knew that hearing for her might be a problem, I motioned for her to come down front, and sit in front of one of the speakers - stage left.

I’d like to see a picture of the smile on my face in doing so.

“By jove - she came!”

One of the things that I had said to myself last night was, that I should ask Timi to bring her camera.

Here - at 9:30PM - AFTER the Town Hall - I remember it!


At about 1:45, I looked up and saw the new Executive Director coming in the door. I was afraid she wasn’t going to make it.

At about two minutes before 2 PM, I turned off the iPod music, and waited for the hour to arrive.

When it did, I rose and said,

“The time for the meeting having arrived, I do now call the October 2009 Town Hall meeting to order. And before we even have the reading of the minutes, I want to ask your indulgence.

“The meetings I have had a part of the last 40+ years have been largely christian, religious meetings, so we have always started off our meetings with prayer, and ended with prayer.

“I have been reticent to do that here, since this is not a religious organization.

“However, unless anybody has an objection, I’d like to ask God’s Guidance as we look at the things we need to discuss.

“Is there ANYONE having an objection to my doing that? If so, raise your hand.”

After waiting, and no hands were raised, and no objection noted,
I prayed for God’s Guidance.

The meeting progressed naturally from there, with the reading of the minutes, and a word from me as to how the meeting will be conducted.

From this note in the Agenda, I read:

D. Explanation of how the meeting will be conducted by Chairman.

1. Robert’s Rules of Order
2. All may have the opportunity to speak, but only after being recognized by the Chairman.
3. To “get the floor”, one must raise a hand if someone else is presently speaking; or, if the room is quiet, one should say “Mr. Chairman”. After being recognized, a microphone will be provided so everyone can hear. Then, a motion or comment may be made,

4. Only one person may speak at any one time, and after recognition by the Chairman.

I then mentioned how our Resident Council sees itself - mainly that of representing the residents to management. We recommend actions that the residents would like to see done, and management takes these under advisement.

I then mentioned 5 items that the Resident Council had requested from Management, and all had been addressed positively.

The introduction of the new Executive Director was next, and she did not give a speech as I assumed, but told us a little about herself, her family, and her work with The Grand Court.

We then proceeded with reports, information, and suggestions from Residents to the departments of:

1. Activities
2. Assisted Living/ Nursing
3. Dining Services
4. Housekeeping
5. Maintenance, and,
6. Marketing.

There were several comments, questions and suggestions from the residents.

A major amount of time was spent on a growing problem of a mis-understanding about the Assigned Seating at the Noon and Evening meals. The mis-understanding of not only the residents, but also by some staff members.

The time spent on this problem was well spent, with seating charts posted and assurances that both the staff and residents now understand.

Halfway during the Department presentations, I went over to the empty chair - that was OBVIOUSLY for the Mystery Resident, wondering, aloud, where - and WHO - that person was.

I asked several male and female residents if they knew who this person was, and all had to say they did not. I asked some staff also. All said "No".

I then related how that yesterday just before supper I had asked the Mystery Person (who did not know she was that person), if she were going to attend the Town Hall meeting, and how I agonized about this until she showed up here, now.

After asking her if SHE knew who was the Mystery Resident - getting a negative response - I said,

“What is your name, please?”

She gave her name, and I said,

“That’s the right answer, Mrs. (her name), YOU are the Mystery Resident of The Grand Court for October 2009.”

Applause, yells and “yessss” rang out through the room.

“You really ARE telling me the truth?”, she asked.

After getting her and her walker safely situated in the special chair, I began interviewing her about her life, family, and her experiences here at The Grand Court, and what she says to anyone asking about her experiences here.

I asked her,

“If you have the opportunity to tell people about The Grand Court, what do you say.”

“The friendliness, the friendliness. Especially the staff. You can depend on them - oh, I have to wear a hearing aid, and if I need help, they give it. I just think the service is wonderful.”

The residents applauded.

I told the Mystery Person about the $10 gift certificate to any store/restaurant in Springfield - along with an IOU from me for same, until she told me her choice.

Lest I forget about the drawing (and I probably did), Timi brought up the “sign-in” sheet hat, and I asked the Mystery Resident to pick out a name. That person will be taken out to eat by the Executive Director.

I closed in prayer, thanking the Lord for the Guidance He had provided.

Part of what Timi does at these meetings, is to record the names of all of the attendees. The list held 32 names.

I was later told my 3 couples that they would have attended, but previous appointments/commitments prohibited it. That’s 38 people, total, who would have come.

One of the continuing Resident Council members (who had said that the first problem was in getting residents to attend this meeting) said that she thought the attendance was double the number who normally attended.

Praise the Lord.


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