Senior Director of Assisted Living Services at Chelsea Jewish Lifecare
After talking with Megin Hemmerling for only a few minutes, it becomes obvious she made the right career choice when she decided to work in the assisted living arena. Megin truly enjoys interacting with the residents and they, in turn, adore spending time with her. As Megin herself explains, “I look forward to hearing stories from our residents. Everyone has a story to tell and I love to listen. It is a great partnership.”
Megin has been part of the Chelsea Jewish Lifecare organization for 18 years and has worked tirelessly to ensure the growth and expansion of all the assisted living residences. Take a look at our conversation with Megin about her career path, her life and working in the Chelsea Jewish Lifecare organization.
Q. How did you come to reside in the Boston area?
A. I grew up in a small town in New Hampshire called Enfield with my mother, father, and sister. In college I was introduced to Boston by way of internships and moved to this area thereafter. Currently, I live in Melrose with my two beloved kitties — Jackson (15) and Tuxedo (12). My mom and dad have since moved to Florida and my sister and her family live in San Diego, but we manage to get together often.
Q. Why did you decide to work with seniors and specifically in assisted livings?
A. Believe it or not, my intention was to specialize in pediatrics. In high school, I was the caregiver of a child with cerebral palsy. Through my time with her, I learned about occupational therapy and decided on that as my major. I obtained my undergraduate degree in occupational therapy and, after working in the field for six years, I segued into working at a senior living organization. I also obtained my master’s degree in Management of Aging Services/Gerontology.
My end of the age spectrum changed directions as a result of an internship/volunteer program that included weekly visits to a nursing facility. For my project, I focused on helping an elderly man build a doll house for his granddaughter. The stories he told me each week were fascinating and from then on, I was hooked!
I always knew I wanted to help people of all abilities lead full lives, but until my internship, I wasn’t sure what path to follow. I love working in assisted living residences because every day is different. It’s a tremendous gift to help residents and their families navigate this stage of life. When the opportunity to be the Executive Director of Kaplan Estates presented itself, it felt right. Looking back, I believe being an occupational therapist made me a better administrator. Knowing how to maximize the success of the elderly in their environment helped me to shape the community.
Q. What was the most difficult aspect of the pandemic for you?
A. Watching the decline of our residents due to isolation. The very reasons for coming to a congregate living situation were taken from them. Things such as visits from family, communal dining, group activities were limited or suspended. Clearly, it’s getting better, but truthfully, I cannot wait to see a return to normal.
Q. You have cared for so many residents. Is there one that stands out in your mind?
A. We had a resident move into one of our assisted livings because she was slowly losing her eyesight and needed more care. She was a lifetime baker but could not do so anymore due to her eyesight. It was a huge loss for her. Over time, she would tell me about her recipes and I would take notes so I could recreate the recipes. During the weekends ay my home, I would make one of her recipes and bring it to her on Mondays. The food brought her such joy! Not only because she got to enjoy a homemade treat but because she became the “teacher.” I think it made her feel valuable. She is no longer with us but I still make her brownie recipe. And think of her every time!
Q. What do like to do in your spare time? (If you ever get free time!)
A. I am passionate about traveling, playing golf, reading, running, and cooking. These activities are totally relaxing for me and very enjoyable.
Q. How do you describe your work ethic?
A. I have a plaque hanging in my office from JFK’s inaugural address that I read daily. The words inspire me: “All this will not be finished in the first one hundred days. Nor will it be finished in the first one thousand days, nor in the life of this Administration, nor perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin.”
Q. What do you people would be surprised to learn about you?
A. I am a HUGE introvert. I work hard at being expressive and outgoing professionally. However it does not come naturally.
It’s apparent from Megin’s many admirers – staff and residents alike—that her hard work has paid off. Megin’s skillful leadership, steadfast dedication and strong sense of compassion are a terrific asset to Chelsea Jewish Lifecare.
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