You could say that for Marilyn Eckerle and Jennifer Malecha, longevity runs in the family. Although, it might not be the same longevity that you’re thinking; the mother daughter duo just celebrated 25 years of service at Presbyterian Homes & Services (PHS) and have no plans of stopping anytime soon! But how did they get to 25 years of service, together? It all started with Marilyn’s parents, then Marilyn, then Jennifer all finding their way to Presbyterian Homes; three generations under one roof!
When Marilyn was helping her parents find their next home, she simultaneously saw an ad for a job at Presbyterian Homes of Bloomington and decided that working there would be a great way to get the inside scoop.
Marilyn was hired as a nurse in the care center and front desk receptionist on the weekends. After experiencing the compassionate staff and seeing the inner workings of the Bloomington campus, Marilyn felt confident that it would be the right fit for her parents.
To grandmother’s house we go!
Marilyn’s parents moved in and lived at Presbyterian Homes of Bloomington for five years. Marilyn appreciated the opportunity to visit them before and after work, and even managed her mother’s insulin. She remembers, “I felt good because I knew where they were; I could check on them and I knew all of their caregivers.” She is grateful for the memories afforded by this unique situation, “After they passed, it was a comfort to be there. I still walk by their apartments 20 years later and think of them!”
Marilyn enjoyed her work and encouraged her college-aged daughter Jennifer Malecha to apply for a part-time receptionist position. Jennifer joined the team, working every holiday and during the summer. She recalls many happy memories of visiting with them on her breaks or sharing meals together; they were never far away. As her grandparent’s health declined, Jennifer remembers the community coming together to support her family. Jennifer reflected, “I want to make sure that older adults are able to live all of their days to the fullest and I want to do my part in making that happen, as so many others did for my grandparents.”
50 years of experience
While working as a receptionist might not sound like the most exciting work for a college student, Jennifer enjoyed the benefits of being able to regularly visit her grandparents and ultimately discovered a job that was quite interesting. She shared, “You never know what a shift will bring. You just do your best to resolve situations and help people have a good day whether you’re helping people get cable set up, fixing their air conditioning or stopping their toilet from overflowing. I’ve worked for 25 years but every shift, I get a question I’ve never been asked before!”
There are two receptionist desks at Presbyterian Homes of Bloomington, so on the chance that Marilyn and Jennifer are working the same shift, they joke, “PHS is getting 50 years’ worth of receptionist experience right now!”
No matter the day, Jennifer and Marilyn are grateful for the relationships with the residents and their families. Marilyn says, “One of my favorite things is doing sing-a-longs with the residents. Through the years, the people change and the music changes, but they are always so appreciative.” Jennifer shared a similar sentiment, “The residents are what make this work so special. I see them move through the continuum and I am a part of their journey. I get to know their families and I hope to make each person’s day better with whatever they might need!”
Inspired by Maxine
As Marilyn and Jennifer celebrate the milestone of 25 years of service at PHS, they commented on how they have been inspired by Harmony River’s receptionist Maxine Engwall who holds the record for the eldest PHS employee at 99 years old. Marilyn felt compelled to call Maxine one day and was moved by her energy, “She was so full of life and even blew a kiss to the mailman while I was talking to her” Marilyn recalls. In order to catch up to Maxine’s record though, Marilyn will need to work for 25 more years and Jennifer, another 50! “I wonder what the 75-year appreciation party will look like?” jokes Jennifer.
We’re grateful to Marilyn and Jennifer for entrusting PHS with the care of their loved ones and for 25 years of dedicated service at Presbyterian Homes of Bloomington.
Join the PHS Family
Marilyn set out to find a home for her parents and stumbled on a 25 year-long career! Explore current career opportunities with Pres Homes online and consider joining the PHS Family!