Jean Johnson, a long-term resident of Rand Aid’s Elphin Lodge retirement village, has retired from the village’s Residents’ Committee after dedicating ten years to serving her fellow residents.
In 2010, it became a legal requirement for retirement complexes to have resident representation on a committee.
The first Elphin Residents’ Committee, or Rescom, was duly formed, and a full residents’ quarterly meeting was held to elect office bearers.
“I was one of the nine residents elected onto the new committee and, as I entered the hall that morning, Helen Petrie, our complex manager, asked if I would be prepared to stand for the position of chairperson. I agreed, not for a moment believing that it would happen, and I was horrified when it did! I did not shut an eye that night,” says Jean.
“I subsequently served four two-year terms as chair, until 2018, and a further two years as an ‘ordinary’ committee member,” she adds.
Jean felt that there was a need to improve communication among village folk, and in July 2010, introduced a monthly newsletter – the Elphinews.
“My motivation was to put village folks in touch with one another. A ‘Star of the Month’ feature gave recognition to staff or residents who made a difference by ‘going the extra mile’, and hopefully made them feel appreciated,” says Jean.
The Elphinews evolved into a kind of ‘social news’ of Elphin Lodge, carrying information about special birthdays, anniversaries, the births of grandchildren and great grandchildren – information which might not otherwise have been known.
“Folk who were ill or who were dealing with difficult times, such as illness or bereavement, were mentioned. These various sections of the newsletter promoted communication among villagers, paving the way for compassion, kindness and celebrations too.
“My favourite part of doing the newsletter was the super feedback I had from residents,” says Jean.
Another big project that came to fruition when Jean was on the committee was negotiating with DStv to offer residents a more affordable selection of channel bouquets. “This was a mammoth administrative task, but the ongoing savings for the community have been worth it,” says Jean.
Her highlights of serving on the committee have been largely due to some pretty amazing folk, she says.
“The late Maurice Creswick was deputy chair on the first committee. A retired lawyer, with the gift of writing poetry coupled with a wicked sense of humour, he was a pillar of strength to me in those early days. His poems, always written on the back of Rand Aid maintenance slips, and often taking a dig an event that had raised his ire, were a delight to read.
“Len Segal, who joined the committee at its inception as well, and who has been treasurer since then, has been a fountain of wisdom and a valued friend.
“Do not be fooled by the diminutive size of Helen Petrie, our lovely complex manager. It has been a pleasure and a privilege to have worked with her. Whatever the problem, Helen always has a logical, unflustered solution,” says Jean.
Her tenure as chairperson for eight years and committee member for a further two years has been a privilege and a pleasure, says Jean. “Thanks to the amazing folk with whom I served on the committee.”
“It is with great regret that the village committee says thank you and happy retirement to Jean. The monthly newsletter has become an institution. As you hand over the responsibility to me, I hope that you will advise and assist as I try to fill your big shoes,” says Joan Marshall, chairman of the residents’ committee.
“On behalf of Elphin Lodge and our residents, I would like to thank you for all of your hard work and for volunteering your time over so many years to assist our residents. We couldn’t have done it without you,” says Helen.