By Golden West CEO John McCarthy
What is it they say again about the best laid plans? Looking back at 2020, it’s been a bit of a mixed bag for the residents and staff of Golden West. But with so many massive, overlapping changes coming into play, our community has adapted quite quickly, and, I think, successfully.
In March, as planned, Golden West CEO John Torres retired after 26 years, and I, at the time Golden West’s CFO, took his place. What would have normally been a reflective, yet celebratory, period filled with proper goodbyes and ambitious hopes for the future quickly transformed into a very uncertain path forward.
In the same month, unexpectedly, Stay at Home orders went into effect across the country as cases of COVID-19 shot up in the United States; in response, our staff immediately went into high gear to protect residents, implementing a range of infection control measures that have since ensured very few cases of COVID affected our community. While absolutely necessary, these measures also upset our daily routines, preventing us from enjoying connections, programs and activities we depend on.
Then, in April, happy news: we finally closed on our Low-Income Housing Tax Credit and Renovation Project, and construction was authorized to begin in earnest. With so much time and energy having gone into this project, it was gratifying to see tangible renovation work begin. But this also came with disruptions to familiar spaces where we connect with others as a community. Progress often includes noise, dust and sights that don’t look pretty. Certainly, Golden West seems to have had more than its fair share of progress these days.
In truth, these events have made our community feel a little different, but from my perspective, they have also driven home what a wonderful group of people live and work at Golden West. Through uncertainties about the virus, noise and disruption from construction, and new leadership, residents and staff keep a positive attitude, rising to the occasion while striving toward normalcy in a somewhat chaotic environment.
To me, the creative ways we’ve found to stay connected with each other speaks to the resiliency of Golden West’s people, from residents networking with friends and family over Zoom, to Director of Resident Programs Jill Moore transitioning in-person activities to our in-house TV station and developing the Reel People resident interview series. It’s been inspiring to see our community thrive, especially now.
While we spent 2020 adapting to COVID and construction, with residents and staff social distancing in their apartments and temporary offices, in 2021 we are anticipating the reopening of our public spaces, improvements to aging infrastructure and updates to resident apartments including energy-efficient windows for the South Tower and Mezzanine, kitchen cabinets for the Central Tower and enhanced cable options. Across campus, new roofs, renovated elevators, replacement of our aging fire alarm system and new heated sidewalks will improve resident safety.
Another positive development in 2021 will be the arrival of an effective vaccine for COVID-19. Recently, we learned the first doses will go to healthcare workers and residents of senior care communities like the Mezzanine, our assisted living. This development offers hope to bring back some of the cherished interactions we’ve been saddened to forego this year.
As I close out 2020 and approach my first full year as Golden West’s CEO, I’m excited to be carrying on the spirit of our wonderful community. With the completion of construction and the vaccine’s arrival, I’m looking forward to regaining the connections we have put on hold and exploring new opportunities to enhance the lives of residents and staff. So, here’s to 2021 and the good things to come.