Photo courtesy Bayview: Belaynesh, an employee at Bayview, left her family in Ethiopia to move to Seattle in 2003. She is a 16-year veteran at the independent nonprofit life plan community in Queen Anne.
Photo courtesy Bayview: Belaynesh, an employee at Bayview, left her family in Ethiopia to move to Seattle in 2003. She is a 16-year veteran at the independent nonprofit life plan community in Queen Anne.

In 2003, Belaynesh left her family and her homeland of Ethiopia. She moved in with relatives here in Seattle, where she soon joined our staff.

Belaynesh — known as Bela to one and all — has become a beloved fixture at Bayview, our proudly independent nonprofit life plan community in lower Queen Anne.

She and I recently chatted, and I was struck by how inspired Bela made me feel — and I realized that she is a perfect example of a person with a “servant heart,” the kind of worker our industry attracts and depends on.

From nursing to hospitality, workforce pressures have hit senior living hard. Hiring and retaining quality employees has become even more challenging with the pandemic.

But at Bayview these challenges are mitigated by our core of devoted and dedicated staff. Our staff tenure ranges from new hires to 43 years. Bela, at nearly 16 years, is one of the veteran staff.

Our hardworking and diverse crew reflects the world we live in, representing all the continents save Antarctica. (Although the dearly departed resident Clayton Danner, for whom our assisted living program is named, visited back in the day.)

Bela, for example, comes in early and leaves late. She’d work ‘round the clock, if needed. She preps food, cooks food and delivers food, often during the same shift. And all the while, an enthusiastic Bela is quick to laugh.

Sure, all the work can wear her out. But as she told me, “Nancy, sometimes things are hard. But that’s OK. The residents are my family, and I love them.”

I squinted a bit and thought I could make out her angel wings.

And our industry — and Bayview itself — is full of heroes like Bela. Heroes who come to work every day, no matter the risk. COVID hasn’t stopped them. The heat wave didn’t stop them. Heck, not even the traffic stops them.

When I feel disheartened or discouraged, I look no further than our own staff and draw inspiration from Bela and all of our workplace heroes. The pandemic may rise and fall, but the dedication and heart of our staff is constant.

Thank you, Bela. You make me a better leader and a better person.

With gratitude and love,

Nancy

 

Nancy Weinbeck is the CEO of Bayview