By Steve Moran
I know you are going to think I am insane when you hear this idea, but I bet . . . NO, I am 100% convinced this would be a fast and inexpensive path to full occupancy, though totally counter-intuitive.
The White House is an upscale Italian restaurant in Anaheim, California. Bruno Serato, the founder of the restaurant, and his mother visited “The Boys and Girls Club” just down the street from his restaurant. Mama Caterina saw a 6-year-old kid eating potato chips for dinner because his family could not afford a real dinner.
Mama insisted that Bruno make some pasta for the boy. They realized there were many more kids just like him, and they began making pasta for 6 dozen kids 5 nights a week. Today, through Caterina’s Club, they are serving more than 25,000 kids every week.
Imagine a senior living community or a whole senior living organization taking on a project like this. I want to start by saying that if it were done with a pure profit motivation it would not be successful. But here is what would happen . . . You would start small, maybe the kids of your team members, and they would get the word out. Kids and families would start to show up. Residents and family members would begin to volunteer. It would not take long for reporters to show up.
It would be a remarkable story to tell about your senior living community or organization doing this wonderful thing. It would spawn more intergenerational opportunities for your residents.
A Full Community
Your community would be the only community people would think about when they thought about senior living. Can you imagine what it would do for Brookdale, Five Star, Sunrise, Capital Senior Living, Atria, Aegis, LCS, Human Good, or Front Porch.
I can already hear it . . . “cool idea but it would never work”. The arguments would fall in two categories: it would cost too much and we don’t want those sketchy families anywhere near our communities (it would be said more politely, but that would be the essence). But if you had to spend little or no marketing dollars because of this, what kind of resource would you have? Even more importantly, with Caterina’s Club, they get millions of dollars in donations each year to make it work. Even early on, there was enough support to make it all work.
This would be the right kind of publicity that senior living needs.