At Royal Atrium Inn’s recent 25th anniversary celebration, Sue Kalinowski was one of six staff members recognized for serving over 20 years. And while she’s been at Royal Atrium Inn for almost 23 years, she has been in the Providence family even longer, having served at another Providence community for several years before having children. Her grandpa lived at that community, and they once sat at a table with Rich Schutt and heard about his passion for serving seniors.
Longevity of service and attention to the mission seem to be the rule, more than the exception, in Sue’s experience. “We have a CEO who believes in our mission, and who has worked here for so many years,” Sue says. “I work with people here who have also been here for decades and love what they do.”
Her grandma lived at the Royal Park community, so she’d observed the compassionate care that the community has always been known for. “Everyone always says we cater to our residents more than other places do, and it’s true,” Sue says. “I love hospitality and making people feel welcome.”
Sometimes that means taking time to listen. “When a new resident is nervous or scared, sometimes I just talk with them and pray with them,” Sue says. “They know they are loved, and sometimes that’s all it takes to help. I want the residents to know they’re not a bother when they ask for things.”
The faith-based part of her community is important. “We have the freedom to pray with people,” she says. “When a resident is crying, we can pray with them, and sometimes I have tears in my eyes, too, and they see that I care. It’s not about hurrying back to work.”
Sue says she’s always had a heart for seniors, mainly because she was so close with her grandparents. And it’s a family tradition—her mom worked as a resident aide at the Atrium during her own retirement years and her daughter worked there as an aide during her time in college. Sue’s son also came to help his mom when he was younger, wiping down wheelchairs and walkers with her in the nursing office.
“My parents were my role models,” she says. “They always taught me to put others above myself, and they led by their example.”
Sue was reminded of this when she was reading her devotions recently. “I read Romans 12:10, which says, ‘Be devoted to one another in love, honor one another above yourself,’” she says. “When a resident comes by and needs something, I can let them know they’re loved and important. I can put them above myself.”
Sue’s desk is in the lobby, and visitors are greeted by her caring smile. “I can’t wait to meet each person and let them know I’m happy they’re here. It’s one of the best parts of the job.”