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“We call ourselves ‘the voice of Friendship Village,’” said Betty Sanders, a resident of Friendship Village senior living community in Schaumburg. The retired radio personality is the production coordinator and director of Friendship Village’s TV crew. This group of approximately one dozen residents, with the help of staff, produces the retirement community’s in-house TV programming.
Friendship Village offers hundreds of events and programs each month. The TV crew’s broadcasts New Day, and Happenings, help to inform residents about the abundant activities on site, introduce residents to new neighbors, showcase exciting initiatives, and feature a morning prayer. “We’ve covered our men’s group who get together and talk about sports, shown off our new crafts room, featured the Friendship Village choir, interviewed residents who are producing a movie, visited assisted living, taped a butterfly release and more,” said Betty.
Friendship Village’s TV programming is not new but has been greatly enhanced over the past year since Betty stepped in. “We changed the format, moved the location around to showcase different parts of campus, gave the show a theme song,” said Betty. “The technology is always getting better.”
In order to make the sets attractive, Betty said she roams the halls of Friendship Village and borrows items from displays at residents’ apartment doors. “I tell people if they see something missing, it’s me and I’ll bring it back, I promise you. They begin to get a little bit of celebrity status when their displays appear on TV,” she said.
Betty has shared interviewing techniques with fellow residents, while she remains predominantly behind the scenes. The TV crew includes residents Paul Mierkiewicz, Tony Dini, Chuck Schlott, Walt Gonia, Craig Foster, Barbara Hershberger, Jim Scott, Marv Andrews, Sue Cummings, Arlene Burke, Kenn Piotrowski, Daryl Schultz, and Judy Brady.
“We are so proud of how the residents have used our in-house television to promote Friendship Village and all it has to offer. It’s a great tool, and they’re really making the most of it,” said Jill Steco, lifestyles director for Friendship Village. “The in-house programs keep getting better and more professional, and the project is really exceeding our expectations.”
Jill and the rest of the lifestyles team help the TV crew out. Andy Rueda is the production coordinator.
In addition to helping residents learn new skills through participation on the TV crew, Betty said she’s hoping that the broadcasts are also helping residents participate in more activities. “We’re making sure that they know about the great opportunities available to them,” she said.