Atria Senior Living in Darien has changed its name several times over the past fifteen years but its role in the community is solid.
When the facility opened its doors at 50 Ledge Road, on October 27, 1997, it was called Stony Brook Court. Atria Senior Living, a national company, is the third and current owner of the senior residence.
“No matter who has owned us, one of our goals has been to be intertwined with the community,” said Wendy Winnick-Baskin, executive director at Atria. She has overseen the facility since the beginning and is currently featured on the national Atria Senior Living Facebook page.
Every branch is required to serve their community at least one day a year. Winnick-Baskin encourages staff and residents to do much more than that. Even before their opening in 1997, the company donated air conditioning units to Darien’s Senior Center.
Today, Atria sponsors the Darien Road Race, donates to Norwalk hospital and the Bennett Cancer Center at Stamford Hospital. Some seniors volunteer at Person to Person of Darien, a group that helps people in poverty, Winnick-Baskin said. Many walk in the Road Race. Atria gives out awards ever year for the youngest and oldest participants.
Residents have many ways of staying active and involved in the community. This month, they have planned an art show featuring an artists who lives at the facility. This month Atria features a program called “Sweet Readers,” which pairs a senior to read with a child with learning disabilities.
“When people move in here, if they’ve been involved, we encourage them to continue,” the director said.
The seniors staff the Welcome Center and greet new residents to the facility. The friendliness has been part of the “culture” since the beginning, Winnick-Baskin said. Residents can also participate in other committees that discuss event planning and activities.
The average resident age has shifted and it’s reflected in the events they plan. New residents are more likely to be baby boomers, born after 1945, rather than from the generation that lived through and fought in World War II.
According to the director, “people are more interested in fitness than they used to be. The music has changed, the kind of films.”
Where a previous generation might have dressed up for dinner, some new residents prefer to be casual. “It’s a little bit less formal,” she said.
This creates a comfortable atmosphere for the staff as well. Winnick-Baskin brings her dog to work and employees are allowed to do the same. This month they will host a public PAWS fundraiser with professional tennis star Billie Jean King, who is “a big dog lover” and has a family member living in Atria according to Winnick-Baskin. The contest will allow people to vote on which pets look most like their owners.
Atria of Darien was nominated as a top 10 workplace in Southern Connecticut in 2011 and 2012. The survey is performed by Workplace Dynamics and published by the Stamford Advocate. Employees submit anonymous answers about whether they believe that their company has strong values, is “going in the right direction,” and appreciates them, according to the Stamford Advocate.
Two-thirds of the staff has been around for five years. Many for ten to fifteen years. Working under Atria for over four years has “made us very aware of our purpose of working versus our job tasks,” Winnick-Baskin said.
The company recognizes that staff members need to be happy to keep residents happy. She holds brief, stand-up meetings in the morning and afternoon, to accommodate different shifts, to discuss the day’s events and highlight their mission. The driving question: what is it that makes you feel good about you do?
In a facility where seniors are involved around town and the staff is devoted to the residents, Atria continues to be a part of Darien. To celebrate its fifteenth year and honor longtime residents and staff, Atria will have a formal dinner on Friday, Oct. 26.
More info: atriaseniorliving.com